Female scholars of color are already high achievers

To the Daily:

It’s good to see students taking an interest in the tenure process. It directly affects the quality of education students receive and the diversity of the courses offered by the University. However, Adriana Aldana’s viewpoint (Deterring women of color, 12/05/2007) may give readers the false impression that female scholars of color often lack “prestigious publications.”

The two American culture faculty members mentioned in the article wrote books that are in the process of being published by highly regarded university presses. They have also had multiple articles within peer-reviewed academic journals. Contrary to Aldana’s viewpoint, it is in fact quite common for University faculty to be granted tenure with publications in these or similar venues.

Scott Kurashige

This letter writer is an associate professor in the Department of American Culture

Attorneys have morals, too

To the Daily:

Eric Sauck’s letter last week about the role engineers should play in war strategy (We need a new type of person planning wars, 12/05/2007) claims that, unlike engineers who abide by “strict rules of ethics,” attorneys are nothing more than snake oil salesmen, unscrupulously manipulating facts and laws to reach their “predetermined conclusion.” It’s true that most engineers are probably better at scientific problem solving than attorneys. But the job of most attorneys is to resolve disputes, negotiate and give counsel to clients. While scientists may be able to foresee problems, the attorney must negotiate to implement the solution. Attorneys are not perfect, but when it comes time to sit down with the opposition to reach a deal, who would you rather have – an attorney or an engineer?

Sauck’s statements amount to nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to restate the tired contention that attorneys lack ethical values. The state of Michigan governs its attorneys by the Rules of Professional Conduct. Prospective attorneys must pass a Professional Responsibility Examination and go through a thorough character and fitness check before being admitted to practice. These standards of conduct are not taken lightly. A look at the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board’s website gives public notice of the transgressions of those disciplined.

Contrary to popular belief, an attorney cannot introduce whatever evidence he wants to make his point. Lawyers have rules to follow, and those who don’t comply are punished.

As Sauck says, a diverse group of experts should be sought to achieve a stable solution in the Middle East. But his point would have been better made if he concentrated on the underrepresentation of the scientific community and overrepresentation of the legal community without unfounded statements about the immorality of attorneys. Apparently lawyers are not the only ones trying “to find evidence to fit a predetermined conclusion” in order to convince people of their viewpoint.

David Kowalski

Alum

This letter writer is a member of the State Bar of Michigan

Objectivism’s stance on smoking misrepresented

To the Daily:

In a recent Statement story, Andrew Sargus Klein referenced a discussion he had with Students of Objectivism about government smoking bans (The University’s most rational egoists, 12/05/2007). Klein wrote, “Objectivism would side with the smokers,” but this is not the case. Objectivism does not side with any individual or group, but holds reality and reason as absolutes. Objectivism adheres to the non-contradictory results in morality, rational egoism and politics, particularly a system of complete laissez-faire capitalism, which is the only social system based on the recognition of individual rights.

Government smoking bans are not a violation of smokers’ individual rights, but rather a violation of restaurant and bar owners’ property rights. Just as I don’t allow anyone to smoke inside my apartment, restaurant and bar owners should decide whether or not to allow smoking in their own facilities. Klein misrepresented this point by closing his article by suggesting that you should “tell your boss you’re exercising your individual right to rational egoism next time he tells you to stop smoking in the workplace.”

True capitalism prevents the government from using coercive force, like industry regulation, taxation and smoking bans, to interfere in citizens’ lives. The only exception to this rule is when disciplining the criminals who violate the rights of others.

Everyone is familiar with the economic efficiency of capitalism, but many try to dilute it with appeasements to socialism, fascism or some other forms of collectivism because of capitalism’s supposedly suspect moral foundation. Objectivism provides such a foundation by rejecting altruism in all its forms and embracing rational egoism.

Andrew Sardone

LSA senior

The letter writer is president of the University’s chapter of Students of Objectivism.

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