LSA-SG reform restricts power to seven members

To the Daily:

While noble in intent, the Daily’s editorial dealing with
the LSA Student Government election reform (Reforming
government
, 03/15/04) fails to recognize that the main issue
lies not with its intent, “to ensure that executives are
elected based on competence,” but rather with the inherent
problems and voting system following implementation of this
system.

I will give the system the benefit of the doubt and assume that
the president and vice president will represent the students
effectively while in office. Still, without receiving the input of
a single constituent, the indirectly elected president appoints the
executive board, five voting members, granting him/her full control
over the fundamental parts of the government: the rules at a
meeting, communication, academic affairs and part of budget
allocations. Amidst these five president-appointed votes and two
more indirect votes, an effective voting bloc will form, holding
more than 25 percent of all votes in the assembly with 50 percent
needed to pass most motions.

While indirect democracy doesn’t violate the principles of
democracy, this seven member voting block not only votes during
government business, but also receives a vote in the election.
Thus, my issue lies not with moving away from democracy but with
the fact that this proposed system effectively eliminates democracy
providing the leadership with the largest say. In other words, the
proposed system exacerbates elitism and fails to eliminate the
conniving politics that will occur on the way to the top of
LSA.

I am not against reforming the current system, but I strongly
feel that this new system fails to address the main issues in
elections. When looking at the proposed resolution, I hope students
consider the danger of allowing the powerful few at the top to hold
a significant part of the vote.

Stuart Wagner

LSA freshman

LSA Student Government representative

 

People must step outside racial boundaries

To the Daily:

I could feel nothing but sympathy for Sravya Chirumamilla after
reading her column (Awash with like colors, 03/10/04)
— sympathy not inspired by the segregation that she alluded
to, but instead, inspired by her social skills (in this case, the
lack thereof). Initially, she mentioned that despite the diversity
of her roommates, Chirumamilla only hung out with the Indians who
she knew prior to her arrival at the University (people through
which she consequently met other Indians), but later mentions that
the diversity of the Daily, to which she was forced to assimilate,
was what brought about meaningful relationships. How could she not
parallel these two? Is it that difficult to see an immersion into
the dorm system as forced assimilation? I guess she had to
deliberately try to overcome the dorm life. I understand that she
had friends outside the dorm and hung out with them, but she did
not see these friends constantly, as she would her roommates. From
this, one can infer that she simply chose not to develop a
relationship with them.

As an Indian, I face none of the segregated examples, which she
unfolded; I do not sit with all Indians, nor do I associate myself
solely with them. But in no way do I want Chirumamilla to think I
am some Indian whose culture has vanished. I visit India
biannually, know Hindi fluently and can recollect countless
traditions specific to my heritage, yet this did not stop me from
making friends with people outside of Indian origin. Originally, I
had made reference to Chirumamilla’s social skills because
they hinder her from presenting an adequate representation of a
minority’s life on campus. In no way am I bashing her for
keeping close ties with her Indian friends from home. Instead, I
think it’s pertinent to point out that when we, as
minorities, only hang out with each other, it perpetuates the idea
that we are uncomfortable and ashamed when associating ourselves
with society. Thus, by hanging out with people who are racially
similar, we may feel at par. But this insecurity only leads to
social segregation. Because of this very idea, I am opposed to many
people of my own race, as they lack a social sphere that
encompasses others. Despite the ideas she tries to invoke,
Chirumamilla just exemplifies that if you hang out with the same
people, you just won’t meet new ones. A shocking
revelation.

Anant Dixit

LSA freshman

 

Advertisement promotes racism on campus

To the Daily:

We, the undersigned students and student organizations of
conscience, respectfully request that the Daily reverse its
policies regarding a recent ad written by David Horowitz, published
on March 10.

Even though we support freedom of speech and discourage the
practice of censorship, based on precedent, the Daily has different
norms of acceptability. More specifically, in the past, the Daily
has refused to print ads it has deemed to be, from the
understanding of its readership, racist. By publishing the David
Horowitz ad, which paints the collective Palestinians as well as
all Arabs as anti-American and terrorist-idolizing, the Daily sends
a message to its readership that this ad does not transcend the
boundaries of racism. However, aside from being historically
inaccurate, the content of this advertisement is clearly racist. He
refers to Palestinians as “the terrorists” and
“the murderers.” Arabs are generalized to be
“xenophobic” and “filled with hate,” in
addition to being placed on a lower moral ground than Nazi Germany.
These are only a few excerpts from an ad that is filled with this
kind of rhetoric.

This ad is blatantly racist, as it seeks to divide the extreme
complexity of the situation into simplistic right-versus-wrong,
good-people-versus bad people terminology. Unfortunately, the bad
people as presented in the ad are the entire Arab population.
Basically, the sponsors of the ad take the actions of an extreme
minority and essentialize their entire ethnicity based on this;
this is racism. To further this point, given most any other ethnic
group, this ad would unambiguously be seen for what it is and not
be published.

Furthermore, the publishing of this ad only serves to increase
the atmosphere of intimidation that already exists on this campus.
Given the rift that already exists between the pro-Israeli and the
pro-Palestinian students on campus, along with the tensions created
by the current occupation of Iraq, such ads as this serve the sole
purpose of perpetuating stereotypes, demonizing an entire people
and endangering the safety of Arab and Muslim students on campus.
It should also be noted that during the Persian Gulf War, the war
on Afghanistan and after Sept. 11, and hate crimes against these
communities increased significantly.

Also, in this society, racism against these communities has
become acceptable — as evidenced by the Daily’s own
lack of acknowledging what is clearly racist, as otherwise.

We request that the Daily, in line with its precedent, cease
publishing this sort of advertisement, for the aforementioned
reasons.

Furthermore, damage has already been caused by the publication
of this ad.It has intensified an already ever-present atmosphere of
hate and racism against Arabs and Muslims on campus, and due to the
precedent, it has sent the message that this racism is acceptable.
Clearly, no form of racism is acceptable in any shape or form.
Therefore, we respectfully request the Daily’s assistance in
reversing this damage by publishing a campus-wide apology for its
mistake.

This letter was written by members of Students Allied for
Freedom and Equality, the Progressive Arab Jewish Alliance, the
Muslim Student Association, the South Asian Progressive Alliance,
the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, Matthew
Hollerbach, co-chair of MSA Peace and Justice Committee, and Harlyn
Pacheco, Chair of La Voz Latina

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