Letters to the Editor: Common Sense Can Preserve Tradition



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I am a fourth year member of the Cal Band and would like to express my opinion on "The California Indian Song." I hope to provide a unique perspective on the situation. Not only am I a band member, but I am band member of African American and Native American ancestry. I have sung, played and even marched to the song more times than I can count.

If you asked me if it offended when I first sang it or when I sang it at the last Women's Basketball game, I would say no on both counts. I don't find the lyrics offensive because don't pertain to my ancestry. We don't use Tomahawks and we don't scalp people. The song doesn't degrade Native Americans, in fact the song brings to light stigmas that have been place on Native Americans for more than 150 years. As long as sports teams use names like the Washington "Redskins" and the Utah "Utes" as mascots, the stigmatization problem will persist. By not being of European or Asian decent, I feel more stigmatized walking into my Computer Science 61A lecture than hearing the words to the song.

What I find funny is how everyone is getting offended now. Oh wait, I get it. It's once again time for the ASUC Senate to tell us our traditions are out-dated. This song has been around for nearly 100 years and only now that it is politically incorrect to sing it do we say something. If everyone would take the time to learn about the school's rich history, learn the fight songs and sing along with the band, then this new found "problem" with California Indian Song would have been addressed a long time ago. We could be like Stanford and at the first sign of trouble turn tail and change our traditions. But aren't we bigger than that?

We celebrate diversity, yet we mock it on a constant basis. I challenge all of you to be loyal Californians and take part in the traditions of our university.

Jerry Miller


UC Berkeley student

Keep the Song,

Scrap the Lyrics

As a former Cal Band member, and current instructor of Native American Studies, I am writing to suggest that the offensive lyrics to "The California Indian Song" be removed, and new lyrics be substituted ("Traditional Fight Song Under Attack," Jan.31).

My sister, another former band member and stalwart supporter of UC Berkeley traditions, Barbara Hollimon Goodson, has suggested that the band (or another organization such as Rally Committee) hold a contest to write new lyrics to the song. A similar contest was held in the 1980s to write lyrics for the Cal Band March.

In this way, the traditional melodycan be preserved, but the clearly offensive and outdated lyrics can be replaced by words that truly reflect UC Berkeley's spirited rivalry with the ones from "down on the farm." After all, the sage minds in Palo Alto, Calif. decided to get rid of their politically and culturally insensitive mascot years ago. Shouldn't we do the same?

California Indians, who are the main focus of my research, never practiced scalping, or any of the other stereotypical behaviors attributed to Native Americans. It is time to have UC Berkeley traditions reflect this reality. This is particularly true because the dean of California Indian studies was Alfred Kroeber, whose name graces the anthropology building on campus. Let's embrace a new university tradition by changing the lyrics of this song.

Sandra Hollimon

UC Berkeley alumna

Greek Community Is Eligible for Registration Program

In recent days, there has been confusion regarding the Greek eligibility for the ASUC voter registration program ("New ASUC Bounty Program Leaves Out Greek Community," Feb.2). Initially, it was thought that the Greek community would not be eligible to take part because of ASUC bylaws. However, after further review of the bylaws, it has been determined that the Greek community is eligible to participate in the program.

The program allows student groups and Greek chapters to earn money by registering students to vote for the March election. Groups interested in participating may begin by registering their fellow UC Berkeley students to vote. Voter registration cards may be picked up outside Room 218 Eshelman Hall. On each completed voter registration card, the student group or Greek chapter should note their club or chapter name. Once the cards are received by the External Affairs Office and verified by the Registrar of Voters, chapters and student groups will receive 50 cents for each student vote they register. It is recommended that groups turn in cards early as the program has a limited budget and the cash awards will be given out on a first come, first serve basis.

The deadline to register is Feb.7, 2000. We encourage all members of the UC Berkeley community to register and vote in the March 7 election. Together, we can ensure that students are heard on election day.

Nick Papas


chief of staff,


ASUC External Affairs Office

University, City Overlook Southside Safety Problem

"Student Robbed At Gunpoint Near Residence Hall" is one of the headlines in your Jan. 28 edition. The article describes an armed assault on a student walking alone on College Avenue near Unit 2 at about 9:45 p.m. on Jan. 26.

This is by no means the first such incident. The area south of campus has a reputation for being unsafe. Little wonder people avoid it, particularly at night. Business on Telegraph Avenue drops off. Street parking is sparse and inconvenient. The gloomy city-owned Sather Gate Garage with its filth, stench and often malfunctioning elevator is dangerous and unappealing.

On the night of the robbery, the Berkeley Planning Commission held a public meeting on the Southside Plan in the university's Unit 1 dorm complex two blocks away from the assault. The audience consisted of students and older people from all parts of town, including senior citizens. Some left the meeting early and walked alone several blocks in the dark and dangerous Southside environment to get back to their cars, unaware of the nearby assault.

It is simply unconscionable on the part of the sponsoring agencies, the city and the university, to expect anyone in the community to come out for nighttime meetings in an area that so demonstrably poses a substantial risk to personal safety.

In order to ensure future public participation, the university should make the Underhill Parking Lot available to members of the city and university community free of charge on meeting nights. It is empty at night anyway.

Doris Willingham


Berkeley resident

Book-Finding Services Benefit Students

What an ominous coincidence to read of the university's antagonistic response to Calbook, a student-run textbook finding service, in Monday's edition of The Daily Californian ("University Officials Look Into Textbook Price Site"). On Monday I began to promote my own UC Berkeley-related online book-finding service and, for a moment, I was concerned that I might soon share in the grief that the University's Office of Marketing and Management of Trademarks want to bring down on Calbook.

I can't blame university officials for being upset about inaccurate textbook price listings for the Cal Student Store, and I agree that Calbook's sending of unsolicited mail was a questionable move, but the university's other complaints are simply obnoxious. Tom Cordi, ASUC Auxiliary Director, made a few especially shameful statements.

"Whoever Calbook is they should have gotten permission from the university to use the title ‘Calbook,'" Cordi said. "It's extremely deceptive because it almost sounds like they are an official (University of) California service."

"They have to pay..." he added.

Does Cordi care who Calbook is? Does he recognize that Calbook is a valuable service provided by Cal students, for Cal students, for free? If almost sounding like an official UC service, by using the term "Cal," is "extremely deceptive," then how does paying royalty fees make it OK?

Far from being deceptive, Calbook is as simple and frank as any Web site I've ever seen, and it provides a valuable service to the UC Berkeley community. The site has it's deficiencies, but these require correction, not legal action.

The university should applaud the efforts of Kentex Ho and the other generous students behind Calbook.com. If there are concerns about copyright infringement, the university should officially endorse Calbook and initiate a supportive relationship. Calbook works in favor of students. As long as that is the case, for Calbook and for my own service, the university should offer its blessing.

Mike Sheldrake

Berkeley resident

Beans, Not Dean's

I am writing in response to your article "Cafe FSM" (Jan. 28). I must say that you made quite an attempt to eloquently and humorously point out our lack of campus eating resources here at UC Berkeley. You then went on to articulately describe the FSM movement that started here at Berkeley in 1964.

However, when trying to act smart, you should first make sure that you "are" smart. For a journalist (or somebody like yourself) that means to double check names, places and dates.

While misspelling the Haas School of Business's Cafe as "Jimmy Dean's" when it is in fact "Jimmy Beans", you are the one who proves to be the real Big Weenie.

Pravir Sawhney

UC Berkeley student?

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