Letters to the Editor: Diverse Opinions About Novartis Deal

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As a graduate student in the College of Natural Resources with only one year of the Berkeley experience behind me, I find it strange that someone here for four years like Sherin Larijani ("Novartis Partnership Flawed, Hurts Students," May 23) would have such difficulty finding a diversity of opinions on the Novartis alliance with the College of Natural Resources.

Since my arrival last August, I have been exposed to a variety of opinions on the deal, both pro and con. This is all one can ask from a healthy intellectual environment -- the difficult part is sorting out one's own views from the traffic of ideas.

I am sympathetic and disturbed if, in fact, Larijani has been mistreated by professors and classmates simply for asking important questions.

However, in my experience, there is almost always a way to phrase questions that is diplomatic enough to earn a thoughtful answer, without putting the person questioned on the defensive, or earning dismissal of the question as coming from a "lefty," right-winger, or any such stereotyped view. The opinions are on record -- one just has to read and know who, and how, to ask about them.

Joseph Spagna

UC Berkeley student

Underhill Protest Stories Biased

There seems to be a bias toward Rick Young in the stories that Anne Benjaminson is writing. In the first story, she refers to his protest as "a true test of resolve for a student facing finals and a summer job." (Boalt Student Continues Vigil in Campus Lot," May 8). In another story Benjaminson writes "(Young) prevailed over his most significant challenge to date." ("demonstrator Endures Arrest," May 23).

As journalists, you must realize that your choice of words affects reader perception, and it would seem that The Daily Californian is endorsing this protest. "Demonstrator Arrested" would have been a more suitable and neutral headline on May 23. And Benjaminson's wording ("prevailed," "resolve") makes it seem as if Young is on some sort of moral quest to uphold good.

If The Daily Californian wants to publish an editorial in favor of Young, that would be appropriate. But the subtle favorable wording is not appropriate for this story.

Sherman Boyson

UC Berkeley student

Car-Heavy L.A. Should Adopt Public Transportation

Mary Kate Norton's column is interesting, but it would have been nice to have heard about underlying causes as well as aggravating symptoms ("Driving Miss Crazy," May 30).

In most cities of this world, a healthy fit person could get to a destination five miles distant in 50 minutes without having to drive -- by walking (very briskly). In nearly every major city in Europe or Japan, one could cover such a distance in much less than 50 minutes, via convenient public transportation.

I agree that sane people trapped in an insane asylum should still be polite to each other (and their less intelligent co-inhabitants), but certainly a critical look at the larger "cuckoo's nest" would also be highly appropriate.

Maybe automobile tyranny persists in L.A. because those who can't take it anymore get in their cars and drive somewhere else, toward the north perhaps?

Drew Keeling

UC Berkeley student

Column Should Run Daily

Hiring Mary Kate Norton at The Daily Californian was the best move that newspaper ever made. Before her, the columns were dry, they were not funny, and they were pointless.

She is truly a genius and a fucking funny one! AXO is so lucky to have a member like herself. I send copies of her column to all of my friends at every school from here to the East coast, and they all comment upon how they only wish they could have the privilege of meeting someone as witty as she.

Prior to her column, the only thing I did with our school newspaper was read the sports page. Now, after reading the sports page, I have other uses for the paper rather than using it to line my garbage can. Is there a possibility that her column could go daily once the school year starts?

Par Javandel

UC Berkeley student


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