Letters to the Editor: Personal Attacks Aside

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It is rather unfortunate that yesterday's column "In the Name of Nothing," highlighted the ignorance and sheer bitterness of at least one writer at The Daily Californian.

The personal attacks against me aside, I want to address a much broader issue. I have known Teddy Liaw for seven years and every mutual experience we have had he has impressed me with his ability to listen, to learn and to lead. He has a warm personality and he lacks personal ambition. (He did not step onto this campus wanting to be the ASUC or U.S. president.)

Aside from his strong business background, he is also an ethnic studies minor and has even disagreed with me on some of my previous decisions. I am not writing to change anyone's mind about our future president or even justify why I spent two weeks of my life campaigning for him. I want his presidency to judged on its merits, accomplishments and mistakes, not some ignorant accusations and bitter words from Daily Cal writers.

Give him a chance and when he excels I will tell the Daily Cal, "I told you so!"

Patrick Campbell

ASUC president

Portrayal Unfair

I was appalled by the comments of Douglas Rappaport, the lawyer representing the man accused of raping My Nahn Nguyen ("Student Accused of Sexual Assault," April 26). Flirting, getting drunk, wearing a short skirt and kissing a woman are not signs that a woman is "mentally unstable" nor that she is automatically sexually available.

Rappaport's assertion that Nguyen "cherishes her role as victim" is outrageous. According to the article, Nguyen's life has been torn apart by the incident. She feels unsafe in her home and has been ostracized by her floormates. Furthermore, Nguyen did not incite a riot by speaking at the Take Back the Night rally. Take Back the Night is about giving women a voice to speak about violating experiences about which our culture encourages silence. The rally is supposed to be a safe and affirming place, and therefore it was totally inappropriate for the accused man to show up at the rally, especially with a video camera. His presence, not hers, caused the disruption.

Sasha Talcott's article only perpetuates the revolting cycle of blaming the victim and dismissing her story. That happens so often in cases of sexual assault. By the first sentence of the article, Talcott has written off the incident has "drunken dorm room antics." The article gives an excessive amount of space to Rappaport. We only hear Nguyen's voice toward the end, after she has already been vilified as overly sexual and thus, as the article implies, without credibility. Talcott quotes people who do support the accused man, but does not quote any supporters of Nguyen.

The Take Back the Night organizers or advocates for survivors of sexual assault could have given Talcott an understanding of the idea of consent, and the laws that say a drunk person cannot give meaningful consent. That the article left out this information and these voices while giving ample space to Rappaport's ridiculous accusations is abominable.

Louise Brodie

UC Berkeley student

Election Malaise

I am not affiliated with any ASUC political party. I am not even involved with the ASUC. However, I took a strong interest in the recent elections. For the ASUC provides many meaningful services to students, although it could provide more. Also, the ASUC has the potential to be an effective spearhead of student activism, rather than a body that just professes support for progressive causes while leaving much of the real work to under-publicized student groups.

Now I am beginning to regret this strong interest. The rampant campaigning violations sickened my stomach. Students often gripe about adult politicians who care only about getting elected and who make a mockery of the campaign finance system. But are we really any better than these older sellouts?

The requirement to disclose candidates' self-imposed spending limits might have helped to prevent too much abuse, but these spending limits somehow were not printed in the voter guide. I disagree strongly with the ASUC Judicial Council's claim that this omission "didn't substantially affect the outcome of the election." How could the council possibly know that? It seems to me that with one of the executive races decided by as few as 130 votes, according to The Daily Californian, published spending limits might very well have made a difference. There would probably have been even more of a difference in the incredibly fluid battle for ASUC Senate seats. So I am disappointed that there will not be a new election. This laxity with the rules would not and should not be tolerated in "the real world."

Also, I am troubled that for the second year in a row, no African-Americans or Hispanics, apparently, were elected to any of the five executive offices. UC Berkeley students may proclaim a devotion to diversity, but do we really practice what we preach?

Jim Fung

UC Berkeley student

University Decision Impacted Teacher

The Daily Californian quoted me accurately on the death of the late professor Sherwood Washburn, but I would like the opportunity to clarify my meaning. I certainly did not intend for my words to be taken literally.

Dr. Carol Christ's decision to ignore the requests of students, faculty and two review committees vis-a-vis biological anthropology, and to condemn the anthropology department to have its flagship course taught by journeymen, was not simply a gesture of contempt toward anthropology students and faculty here - it was also a rejection of what professor Washburn had built over his brilliant career, and one that grieved him profoundly in his last years. While the administration did not literally kill him, of course, its decisions obviously did not extend or enrich his life, either. That is what I meant.

Jonathan Marks

UC Berkeley visiting professor

'Rich Hill Folks' We Ain't

I write in regards to The Daily Californian's article about the Citizens for Responsible Development, in which Patrick Kennedy states that our group is against renters ("Height Limits Cause Conflict," April 21). The statement indicates Kennedy knows nothing at all about us and is attacking us in order to curry favor with students. Most of us are Berkeley homeowners now but we were renters and all of our children are currently renters. Trying to portray us as "rich hill folks" just has no basis in reality. We are a diverse group, some with a few dollars and others as poor as church mice. Almost all live in the flatlands. We are all long- term residents of Berkeley. One since birth and the others, for 25, 30, 40 or 50 some years.

Our children attended Berkeley public schools through Berkeley High School, then on through the UC system. Kennedy bailed from Panoramic Way in Berkeley to Piedmont in order to have his children attend the lily-white schools there. What is Kennedy's commitment to Berkeley? Short-term, high profits. Meanwhile, we are here for the long haul. That is why we fight so aggressively to keep this city livable. We are definitely not against renters. Approximately 35 percent of housing in Berkeley is for low-income residents. What is Piedmont, less than one percent? A gated community more accurately describes Piedmont. Kennedy states we want only new residents who can afford the $300,000 for a purchased house. There are 18,000 rental units alone under the jurisdiction of Berkeley's rent board. Our initiative just seeks to just hold all new developments to the current zoning-defined height limits.

Kennedy can make a healthy profit by adhering to these guidelines in his developments. He just desires excessive profits. The current zoning ordinance was culled from the hundreds of thousands of citizen hours that went into defining the separate neighborhood, Downtown and West Berkeley plans. Students must decide individually who represents their interests more, the long-term residents and parents of some of your fellow students or a Piedmont interloper?

Norine Smith

Citizens for Responsible Development

Students Deserve Praise

The good news for Berkeley is that we will FINALLY be offering curb-side pick-up of plastics. I proposed that we recycle plastics over five years ago and finally got a council vote in favor in late February. It would not have happened without the support of UC Berkeley students. Because they have not received any credit in The Daily Californian, I am writing to let people know of their role.

Christine Johnson, a doctoral candidate and one of my appointees, is the chair of the city's Solid Waste Commission. She led her commission to a unanimous endorsement of plastic recycling. Rachel Balsley, an undergraduate active in a campus environmental group called SOURCE, is also on the commission and was invaluable. They held an educational forum on campus to help educate other students and many of those students attended a council meeting to help convince the council to support recycling. Lisa Bauer, the campus recycling coordinator, was also very helpful.

For the last five years, Berkeley has refused to recycle plastics in a good-hearted but impractical effort to reduce plastic use. Plastic use has risen here as in the rest of the country and we have been trucking our plastics across the valley to bury them in a hole in the ground during that time. No one likes plastic. But it is a fact of life and I have been horrified at our unwillingness to recycle or reuse our plastic trash.

Now, thanks largely to the work of involved UC Berkeley students, the city will be doing the right thing. Every contact I have with UC Berkeley students convinces me that our future is in good hands. This was a particularly rewarding association.

Polly Armstrong

Berkeley City Council member


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