Letters to the Editor: UC Regents Need to Reverse Ban on Affirmative Action

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We have entered a critical stage in the struggle to defend affirmative action in California. In response to the successful mobilizations of students in defense of affirmative action and integration particularly at UC Berkeley over the past several years we now have the opportunity to reverse the ban on affirmative action in the UC system. UC regents William Bagley and Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Daily Californian have all recently called for the reversal of the regents' ban on affirmative action. Our victory is within reach.

The determination and power of the growing movement to fight against racist inequality in this society and to defend affirmative action was evidenced by the successful UC-wide mass walkouts that were organized in defense of affirmative action and integration. The success and strength of this walkout forced Bagley to draft a proposal calling for the reversal of the ban on affirmative action. Bagley's proposal now has the support of several of the regents and he is confident it could pass. In order to ensure that this happens we must take full advantage of the historical opportunity that has been presented to us. Continuing to build this student movement in defense of affirmative action and integration, and mobilizing mass demonstrations at meetings of the UC Board of Regents this semester can ensure that Bagley's proposal is raised and the UC regents make the right decision this time.

The national political impact of this decision would inspire all defenders of equality in education by letting them know that the hard-fought struggles have been able to achieve real victories. Taking back this decision can strike a severe blow to the right-wing forces that have been lining up to attack all of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement in this country since the regents began the fight against affirmative action. It would stop in its tracks all of the plans to roll back every inch of progress we've gained over the past 30 years.

The UC regents have rightfully gained a reputation as the progenitors of the nation-wide racist attack on affirmative action. They have slammed the doors on black and Latino youth and left our futures hanging in the balance. The UC regents and Gov. Gray Davis are now in a position to reverse the ban on racial preferences in the UC system. This is the only way we can repair the damage done to the gains in integration and quality education.

There will be a statewide day of action Feb.24 to reverse the ban on affirmative action in the UC system. On this day we will be holding a rally and march at noon on Sproul Plaza. It is especially important that all defenders of affirmative action and integration unite and act on the momentum that we've built on these campuses to secure a victory for our movement now. A successful action on this day can and will undoubtedly keep the pressure on the regents so that they are able to correct this dreadful mistake.

Vincent Kukua

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary

Pro-Microsoft Arguments Are Deplorable

The most disturbing thing revealed in The Daily Californian's article on the Haas-sponsored debate about the Microsoft case ("Debate Ensues Over Microsoft Case," Feb.9) is not that a few isolated business professionals defended Microsoft with opinionated, irrelevant, and highly speculative arguments, but that Microsoft itself has been able to go so far in the Justice Department's case with such elementary rhetoric.

When asked whether Microsoft has engaged in monopolistic business tactics, Bill Gates himself provides the ultimate example of non-sequitorial positivism, philosophizing that what is important is that "people are making good software." While such platitudinous retorts would appear either feigned and evasively idiotic, or tragically revealing of Gates' own personal naivete, they are in any case surprisingly typical of most pro-Microsoft argumentation.

Indeed, Microsoft's rich and presumptive arrogance is often its only answer to the real-world claims and historically-based testimony of an entire industry all-too-aware of Microsoft's true business style. Speaking of the Department of Justice's case against Microsoft this week, Attorney James Kleinberg, who has represented Microsoft in the past, evaded the facts of the case by providing his own personal, dramatically meaningless interpretation of American society. "There's a perennial love we have in this country for seeing the rich and famous get in trouble ... This case is grounded in the belief that Microsoft is so damn big and so damn rich that there had to be something wrong with it," Kleinberg said.

In addition to misreading the expansive, Machiavellian American legacy of celebrating business greed, of which Microsoft is consistently an example, Kleinberg went on to belittle immaturely both Netscape and the Department of Justice. "While the government was arguing poor, poor Netscape's case, Microsoft benefited consumers and fostered genuine competition," he said.

Of course most knowledgeable computer users would substitute the words, "hurt" for "benefited," and, "genuine anti-competitive monopolies," for "genuine competition," but it seems that to those who have represented Microsoft, such differences are as unimportant as the truth.

Instead of focusing on the facts of the case, people such as Kleinberg often rely on tasteless attacks against Microsoft's competition, the government and Americans themselves, in order to defend Microsoft's credibility. Irregardless of whether Microsoft has technically and legally engaged in monopolistic business practices, such behaviour is disgraceful for Microsoft and an insult to all parties involved.

Brandon Marsh

UC Berkeley student

Enough About the Dumb Song

In response to Anthony Kenyon's letter ("Dismantle the Song," Feb.8), I found it amusing beyond belief. I bleed blue and gold, and I could give a rat's ass about this lame song. I've never heard it played at a football or basketball game and have heard it maybe once. Furthermore, who even knew the lyrics before the Association of People Occasionally Oppressed Harshly Through Outrageous School Songs brought it to our attention?

It's funny as hell to see people get worked up about a ridiculous song enough to insult and degrade other human beings and likely their future alma mater. Aren't you doing exactly what this song is supposedly doing to you?

Every race, every nation on the planet has been enslaved, killed in masses and treated wrongly by another race or nation. This is history in a damned world. Can't we just live life in the present and make sure it never happens again? Look forward to the future and make life worth living.

Here's an idea for you Anthony, take a little trip to Tibet, Ireland or Lebanon. Make sure you report back to us on whether they are bitching about any songs lyrics that are oppressing them!

If you don't think this is a "great institution," then don't be a part of it. Judging from your letter, the name Anthony Kenyon isn't going to make our alum list more prestigious. Hey Anthony go out and enjoy life, pick a daisy, take up juggling, take the red shirt off, eat some tofu and sing a song. Hail to California!

Jerem Stothers

UC Berkeley Student

Closed Doors

Since I have been at UC Berkeley, I've been kicked out of or denied entrance to quite a few on-campus events. It is strange to me that at a public university there are some doors that always remain locked to students. Every time I'm asked to leave a building I come away with the feeling of being mugged. It's an instant reminder that the university is run by a gang of elite thugs as if it were a business rather than a place of higher education. While the stench of hypocrisy usually fades after a day or so, this Thursday it made me vomit.

I doubt anything can match the ironic sting of being ejected from the opening ceremonies of the Free Speech Movement Cafe ("Free Speech Movement Cafe Opens," Feb.4). While the bouncer conveyed his understanding of the irony of the situation, I don't really think that he fully understands just what that is.

The walls of the cafe are covered with pictures of the Free Speech Movement; images of Mario Savio drape the walls; a television flashes pictures of demonstrations from the 1960s; posters of the original twLF and the World Trade Organization demonstrations hang from the back.

As I was asked to leave, Chancellor Berdahl was on the microphone, the authoritative symbol of the university's power. It's bizarre the way that our symbols of resistance, the history of our struggle, can be appropriated by those who hold the purse strings. The meaning gets distorted and the history is rewritten until it becomes so disfigured that it no longer resembles reality. On Thursday it became a mockery of those it claimed to honor.

The university does not do a service to the memory of the Free Speech Movement by holding a closed door party for the rich and powerful members of the Berkeley community. Rather it degrades the traditions of struggle that many of us follow. Mario Savio wasn't honored by the opening of that cafe.

It was this university's administration who kicked him out of UC Berkeley for his participation in the movement. The university didn't do him justice by opening the cafe. Rather it spat on his grave by doing so. It is one more reminder that despite all that students have fought for and won over the years, the institution remains not in the hands not of the students but in the hands of the administration.

The choir may have changed but the song remains the same. If we really want to do justice the memory of those who struggled before us, we should retake the Free Speech Movement Cafe and open every other closed door on this campus.

John Patel

UC Berkeley

Song Is Irresponsible

The recent controversy over the UC Berkeley fight song ("Traditional Fight Song Under Attack," Jan.31) should be resolved quickly and decisively by the UC Berkeley administration. After all, the university is a public institution of higher education which espouses the ideals of a country based on the precept of "all men (people) are created equal." Even though the histories of this country and state record many instances and episodes of racism, slavery, injustice, murder, genocide and forced migration (herding), driving Native Americans from their lands and onto "reservations," the time has more than passed when Native Americans should be viewed by all people as human beings and not treated as "savages" in word or deed.

To have any dignity as a university, UC Berkeley must give up its petty racist fight song which cannot in even the slightest manner be justified as part of any kind of "tradition" worth keeping. If the entire campus, student body, staff, faculty and administration cannot see that instantly and automatically, then some widespread sensitivity training should be scheduled and implemented immediately. The time of "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" is over. Scalps on the belt no longer are the least bit funny.

Any delay or excuse to stop the immediate disposal of the song will just add to the mountains of hypocrisy regarding dealings with Native Americans. If Nazi hate slogans against Jews or the "N" word were in the song rather than references to scalping and Indians would the university be debating or delaying the handling of the issue?

In California, the history of the "Spanish" missions built by Native Americans used more or less as slaves should give pause to anyone who visits the architecturally beautiful straw-adobe wonders. Building, farming, fishing, hunting and gathering - all were integral parts of Native American history and culture in what is now called the United States of America. Native Americans did and still do live here. They are human beings with their own unique history and deserve to be recognized as human beings and treated with appreciation, dignity and respect. Indians are not laboratory specimens nor should they be subjected to ridicule and further torture and humiliation by college students.

I am shocked that such a song exists and is used anywhere in this country in the year 2000. It is unfortunate that I had to write this letter but I hope it will suggest that alternative fight songs can be readily written without rallying the students at the expense of a certain group of human beings already suppressed and mistreated for centuries.

Ronald Hartwell

Union City resident

Consumers Abound in Berkeley

I am writing in response to yesterday's column written by Daniel Hernandez ("Free Speech: Packaged and Sponsored," Feb.9). Sorry, but I have to disagree with you.

Berkeley and commercialism do belong in the same sentence. There is a small, vocal minority of people that came to UC Berkeley to reject capitalism. Most of us, however, came to this university to get a good education.

I am happy to patronize any business that sells the products I want, even if they are part of a chain that makes a huge amount of money. I believe most people here feel the same way.

David Wasserman

UC Berkeley student

Corporate Sponsors Pose Problems

I just wanted to let Daniel Hernandez know that his piece in the paper yesterday was right on ("Free Speech: Packaged and Sponsored," Feb.9). Corporations have too much control and power over everything that happens.

I graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey where we have a Coke contract and no outside beverages can be sold or distributed on campus. We also had Nabisco funding our Food Science major and all the research went to help Nabisco become a better company.

One of the campaigns that PIRG is helping to fund is the Dirty Jobs Boycott which is a new way to boycott corporations that have too much power and are negatively impacting the environment. We are asking seniors and other students to pledge not to work for companies with a poor environmental record. We are targeting corporations like Ford, General Motors, BP, and Coke. UC gets lots of money from Ford and may be seeking a beverage contract with either Coke or Pepsi.

We should apply pressure to these companies to push back their greenwashing and omnipresence.

Emily Francis

CalPIRG campus organizer

Profit Territory

As soon as I realized what Brook Schaaf's column on Friday was about ("Bear Territory," Feb.4), my eyes excitedly skimmed the lines in search of a mention of rent control, or should I say the lack of rent control in Berkeley. I was let down to see that he had avoided the topic, seemingly with a 10 foot pole, with no mention whatsoever of the problem when it is by far the most serious way the city is currently screwing the students.

Just over a year ago, a one bedroom apartment on Southside could be had for approximately $400 per month, and a two bedroom apartment went for about $800. Now I have friends paying twice that much for the same exact rooms. I have a friend who pays $2,000 for his two bed, two bath apartment - you can rent a HOUSE in a well-off area of San Francisco for that much. Does anyone else see something wrong with this? What is there to be done?

This is something that affects every student who lives in Berkeley regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political or social stance. Everyone needs a place to live, and everyone can't afford the ridiculous price of housing.

If students had been more educated about the legislation that did away with rent control, we probably would have been, dare I say, less apathetic when it came time to do something about it. If students had known what was going to happen, maybe we would have been more involved, and we might have saved rent control. But we didn't know. Now, I ask, is there any way to change this? Now the students see that we are going to have to be the ones who give a damn.

The truth of the matter is that Berkeley wouldn't be Berkeley without the university; as Brook Schaaf points out, UC Berkeley was here before the city of Berkeley was even a distant dream. With "Tidal Wave II" coming and the return of rent control nowhere in sight, this situation is seemingly only going to get worse.

We need to realize that, even though we may call Palos Verdes or Los Gatos home, Berkeley is where we live right now, and we do have the ability and the right to live comfortably here. But we are going to have to be the ones who make it a comfortable place.

Samin Nosrat

UC Berkeley student

Picture of Rivalry Omits Mutual Benefits

Brook Schaaf's article on the rivalry between the city of Berkeley and the university left many important aspects of living in Berkeley unmentioned ("Bear Territory," Feb. 4.)

As a lifetime resident of Berkeley and an undergraduate at UC Berkeley I feel I can give a more rounded summary of city politics. While telling the citizens of Berkeley to "show some respect," he forgets that what makes Berkeley special is those same citizens (who are often Berkeley alumni).

Initially, the appeal of living next to a major learning institution was indeed a major factor in the growth of the city. As time went by, many students decided to live in Berkeley after graduation. Their activist minds remained keen and the city population today is full of politicized people who make up one of the strongest civil societies in America. This is a true sign of democracy in action.

Instead of attacking the residents for doing something as thoroughly American as participation in local politics, he should focus more on how students can get involved and get their views represented. The city of Berkeley and the university have grown up together and have a symbiotic relationship. What makes our city and university special are each other.

By reminding Berkeley residents that the town would not exist without the university, Schaaf fails to consider how unappealing UC Berkeley would be if flanked by Oakland and El Cerrito. The reason that my parents chose to bring me up in Berkeley and why many students choose to attend this institution is that Berkeley is a tolerant community that accepts a multiplicity of views.

If the rule of the rich and powerful university began taking precedence over the participatory democracy of the Berkeley City Council, then we as students and residents would lose the essence of what makes this town a wonderful place.

Teddy Miller

UC Berkeley student

Who Is Behind the Badge?

Recently there have been many articles published in The Daily Californian discussing the behavior and role of police in our society. How can we talk about the role of the police in our society without addressing the idea of class? I think it is important to remember in considering this that the police are the trained and armed lethal weapons of the government. They "protect and serve" a select portion of the population.

We have in this country the resources and labor to feed, clothe, house and educate every member of society. This doesn't fit into the agenda of the ruling class. It is this ruling class of a few very rich bosses that decides what happens with the food, houses, clothes and all other products, and it is this same ruling class that keeps an armed presence throughout America, which we know as "The Boys in Blue."

The cops have a role in this class society that is not neutral. The cops are duty bound to make sure that people evicted from their homes leave on time, and that the hungry do not steal from the market. What happens when people, workers, try to defend their jobs, try to demand health care for all or housing for all or (god forbid) jobs for all? They have to organize, and make their voices heard. Ross Clippinger,in his recent articles in the Daily Cal defending the cops, says that the only reason for attending a protest is the natural desire everyone has to see mayhem, or as he puts it: "bare-knuckle fights." I beg to differ.

Is there a need to protest and fight back? Well, in the last five years according to the New York City Management Reports, half a million people have been cut off welfare; 70 percent of these people are children. On the other coast, the state of California has a higher incarceration rate than any country in the world. According to a report detailed in the San Francisco Chronicle, one in four children under the age of 18 in California live in poverty. While people are imprisoned at higher rates than ever, especially blacks and Latinos, more and more prison and "workfare" labor (working for welfare checks) are being used to replace the jobs that formerly earned significantly higher union wages.

Whether we are talking about students fighting against wars from Vietnam to Iraq, workers fighting for the right to keep their jobs and not have their wages cut, or people fighting against racist treatment and killings by the police, protests exist because the working class needs to defend itself.

When workers decide to go on strike to save their jobs, the workers know that their ability to feed their families is at stake. The bosses, on the other hand, know their profits are at stake. The interests of the working class and ruling class are directly opposed. So - where do the police stand? I challenge you, Ross Clippinger, to give me an example of cops defending workers‚ or rights of workers in this situation. Cops have broken strikes for the last two centuries and continue to do so today.

They break up protests and strikes while defending racism, separatism and discrimination. So to our friend George Matchen, who wrote an opinion piece last week, ("Focus on Differences Obsures Individuality," Feb. 3) I say it is sad that those kids in Oakland threw that bottle at you after they targeted you. It was a misdirected attack and shows once again that racism ultimately hurts regular people like us- black, white, Asian, or Latino. But when you suggest that Zamani was abused by police because he was an "uppity ivy-league student," you overlook the fact that for every white arrest there are three black arrests; for every white prisoner there are seven black prisoners, according to the National Criminal Justice Commission.

You were treated in a racist manner, but that doesn't give you the right to deny that racism against minorities exists to a great degree on an institutional level such as this. The police and justice system are tax-funded institutes of the state.

I ask you, in a class society like ours, just who do the police "protect and serve"?

Nick Parker and Boris Pineda

UC Berkeley students


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