Language requirement comes too late to make a real difference
for students

To the Daily:

I am in full agreement with Dan Adams’s proposal to
abolish the language requirement (Estoy enojado, 02/11/04)
but I believe he fails to address some of the most important
reasons to do so.

First, college is simply too late to force the language burden
on people. If someone hasn’t learned a language by the time
he is a first-year student, the odds he will learn it in subsequent
years are not worth the effort the University invests in attempting
to teach him. While proponents of the requirement point out that
other countries always teach their students English, they do so
starting in elementary school or earlier. If Americans are going to
learn another language, it needs to happen long before college
— the current program simply doesn’t work well.

Related to this first problem is the issue of fairness. Every
other requirement the University imposes on students is universal.
No matter how much attention I paid to natural sciences in high
school, I still have to take at least seven credits when I arrive
at the University. The same is true for every student in every
requirement, except in language. Consequently, students who have
learned a language early in life or had access to a high quality
language program in primary or secondary school have a diminished
requirement load compared to students without these advantages.

Finally, there is the illogical nature of the claim by language
requirement proponents that language is too important a skill to
neglect in modern society. While this claim is certainly true
— if exaggerated in extent — it is also true that more
important skills have no requirements at all, let alone the four
semesters of language students are forced to take. All students
should know how to use a computer, compute interest payments and
speak effectively in public, but these issues receive only indirect
attention at best. Like Adams, I have no problem with the language
departments, but I do take issue with an unfair, illogical and
ineffective language requirement.

Dylan Keenan

LSA freshman

 

Intellectual property laws essential to fostering
‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’

To the Daily:

In his recent column (One fallen tower I’m not crying
about
, 02/11/04), Ari Paul states that intellectual property
laws are the “ultimate contradiction of capitalism.” He
goes on to say that the “rich industrialists” use
intellectual property laws to protect their economic power from
upstart entrepreneurs, and he advocates the elimination of these
laws.

Suppose you are an upstart entrepreneur with a revolutionary new
idea. Without any intellectual property laws to protect your idea,
someone with established economic power could just copy it and
bring it to market without giving you a single dime. So instead of
being rewarded for your idea, you are forced to either starve or
work for one of the “rich industrialists” that Paul
mentions. Then the next time you come up with an idea, perhaps
you’ll keep it to yourself because there’s no point in
making the rich even richer. Or you won’t have time to come
up with a new idea because you’re working in a factory.

The problem with Paul’s proposed solution of eliminating
intellectual property laws is that it removes the economic
incentive for innovation, invention and creativity. And contrary to
his belief that the only purpose of the laws is to protect the
economic elite, they also protect the rights of people with new
ideas against that same economic elite. I agree with Paul that the
recording industry is not deserving of pity. However, the best way
to avoid handing your hard earned money to the recording industry
is to buy songs directly from the musicians. The technology to
allow this kind of purchase already exists, and hopefully musicians
will begin to cut the recording industry out of the loop.
Eliminating the only protection that musicians have against the
theft of their music, as Paul advocates, will only make the things
worse.

Vikas Reddy

Engineering sophomore

 

Groups’ acts show they don’t understand V-Day
meaning

To the Daily:

Last Friday, campus activists gathered on the Diag as part of a
week-long celebration of V-day. V-day is an international campaign
whose purpose is to raise awareness about violence against women.
The American Movement for Israel and the Jewish Women’s Forum
apparently missed that point. While condoms bearing the slogan
“Israel, it’s still safe to come” distributed by
these groups are certainly clever, they have no relevance to V-day,
or to ending violence against women. Furthermore, the information
sheets distributed with the condoms boasting impressive statistics
about women’s rights and LGBT rights in Israel were
completely inappropriate. It is true that high literacy and
employment rates are enjoyed by Israeli women. The same, however,
could be said about women in the United States. Yet the purpose of
V-day is to demonstrate that while women may have
“rights” in the U.S., they are still the victims of
sexual violence at alarming rates. This is also the case for both
Israeli and Palestinian women in Israel. Perhaps a more appropriate
handout would have included information about abuse of women within
Israel and Palestine. For example, Palestinian women under
occupation are often subject to abuse from the Israeli Army,
including sexual harassment and rape. Within Israel, the increased
militarization of Israeli society has contributed to a rise in
domestic violence and rape rates in the past few years. In the
United States, approximately one in five women will be raped in her
lifetime, and in Israel, one in three women will be sexually
assaulted. Whitewashing the situation for women in Israel is
incredibly naive and undermines the purpose of V-Day in its efforts
to end violence against women worldwide.

Abby Hauslohner

LSA junior

Shosh Ruskin

LSA senior

Ruskin and Hauslohner are co-chairs of the Progressive Arab
Jewish Alliance

 

Article headline creates misconception of protest

To the Daily:

The title of the article “Gratz speaks at Union amidst
massive protest” is misleading. I was studying at the
Michigan Union at the time of the protest and went to the lobby to
see what was going on. There were far fewer than 50 people there,
even at the peak. There were less than 10 people actually yelling
outside the door of the Pond Room. The rest of the people in the
lobby were curious onlookers waiting to see something interesting
happen. This was not at all a “massive” protest. If I
am able to study in a room just a few feet from where this was
taking place it could not possibly be “massive.” The
title is disrespectful to all truly “massive” and
important protests that have taken place on this campus and in this
country.

Michael Rohde

LSA junior

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