Letters to the Editor: Berkeley Should Not Accommodate Polluting Cars

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I was quite disturbed after reading the last editorial (" Conjestion Not a Disease Spread by Motorists," Feb. 21). Spelling the word "congestion" wrong was only the beginning. The editorial ignores the consequences that Berkeley and American cities as a whole have faced through intense automobile use. Cars are a huge source of air pollution that looks bad, induces asthma, damages plants, and contributes to global warming.

Cars kill and injure a lot of people. Studies have shown that heavy traffic on residential streets reduces property values and deters pedestrian activity. In this context, it makes perfect sense that the City of Berkeley has taken so many measures to deter auto use. Berkeley and its neighboring cities have densities that make alternatives to driving-walking, cycling, or riding public transportation-very practical.

We need to stop being such lazy-asses and consider the damage people cause to society when they make often needless auto trips. Taking away one-way streets and making driving slower and more frustrating is a good measure toward keeping people out of their cars.

Max Henkle

UC Berkeley student

Berkeley needs to accommodate drivers ... not! It is just plain dumb for thousands of students and staff to drive to UC Berkeley and then attempt to park in the limited spaces wasted on tarmac ("Conjestion Not a Disease Spread by Motorists," Feb. 21). The recent calls for transit passes for all staff and faculty as a job perk are the correct solution to the problem. On-campus parking for staff, students and faculty should disappear. AC Transit and UC itself provide various bus routes around and through the campus linking dorms and classroom buildings to each other, Rockridge and Downtown Berkeley BART. Use the service, walk, ride a bike. If you must drive, move to Los Angeles where your behavior will not be out of sync with your surroundings.

David Vartanoff

Oakland resident

DE-Cal Investigation

Let me see if I understand this. The professor nominally responsible for the classes' content is the person in charge of investigating the class ("Students Defend Suspended Male Sexuality Class' Core Message," Feb. 21). Leaving aside this frank admission that she has no clue what she approved, does this not strike anyone else as a conflict of interest? Do professors know the word recusal?

C.A. Hoffman

UC Berkeley student

Sex can be a lot of fun, one-on-one or in groups. Sex is also a valid field of study because it is something that affects many people's personal and social lives. It seems some administrators at UC Berkeley feel sex is invalid for study considering they suspended a course after finding out some of the students in that course actually elected to enjoy sex together and some students chose to study stripping ("Students Defend Suspended Male Sexuality Class' Core Message," Feb. 21).

Last year, I spent an entire semester studying sexuality, gender, and identity in a specialized program set in Amsterdam. As part of that program, I went to a peep show, saw a sex show, and visited a sex museum. I learned about migrant prostitutes, Dutch culture, transsexual issues, and much, much more. While some parts of the coursework were more fun than others, all of it was valid, serious study of sexuality and gender.

Since sex and sexuality affect so many of our lives in such deep ways, we have to be open to studying them. If some of us elect to participate in fun sexual activities in conjunction with or separate from our coursework, nobody should have the right to stop us or to say it makes the study of sex and sexuality invalid.

Nicholas Sakurai

University of Illinois student

Budget Priorities

Although UC claims it is feeling the pinch of the state's financial crunch, the reality is much different ("UC May Be Greatly Affected By Proposed State Budget," Feb. 22). UC is not, as it leads people to believe, a mostly state-funded institution. In fact, it receives only a small percentage of it funds, about 22 percent, from the state of California. An independent economist, who has recently completed an extensive study of UC's finances, Dr. Peter Donohue, has pointed out that UC's alleged "hard times" simply reflect the fact that UC dollars are being diverted away from salaries and programs and into UC's unrestricted funds. This is a category that allows UC to spend money any way it wants.

Over the last decade, UC has been building staggering reserves. These unrestricted funds surpluses have tripled in the last 10 years, and have grown to over $2 billion. Just as we've seen the whistle blown on Enron's corporate dishonesty, it is imperative to shed the light of truth on the finances of the corporation that is the University of California.

While prudence dictates that UC keep a reserve for emergencies and other important necessities, letting staff, students, and junior faculty suffer through program cuts and below-market-rate salaries while UC amasses a colossal reservoir of discretionary cash is a distortion of priorities. The least well-compensated staff members at the university bear the greatest burden in this ongoing scam, as real wages for clerical and service staff continue to sink, year in and year out. Student fees rise and campus programs suffer.

UC ensures that even if it claims to be in "hard times," there is no shortage of good times for top UC administrators, many of whom have been approved by the UC Board of Regents to have up to 25 percent wage increases doled out to them.

Is UC here to serve the educational needs of the young people of California or to build its reserves of capital? This great educational institution screams out for a change in priorities. A portion of UC's unrestricted reserves should be used at this time to pay staff, junior faculty, and lecturers a decent wage, reduce student fees to an affordable level, and retain full program funding.

Hilary FitzGerald-Nicholson

UC Berkeley staff

Ranked, but Robbed

Is the Cal basketball team entirely comprised of Canadian players? I have to say all the fanfare about the Olympic judging scandal seems small compared to the injustice that has been wrought on Cal in the top 25 rankings this year. Are the coaches French and being bribed? I suggest that The Daily Californian sports writers start an independant investigation into why our team is getting screwed in the rankings. Ask the coaches and pundits who haven't voted for us to withdraw themselves from the polls and go back to their home country.

For God's sake, how can USC be ranked above us when we just beat them? There is a scandal out there waiting to erupt.

Gray Chynoweth

UC Berkeley student


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