Discourse / Letters / April 24, 2008

Letters to the Editor: Apr. 17 – Apr. 24, 2008

Alpha Phi Omega aid

On behalf of my Brothers and Sisters of Alpha Phi Omega I would like to publicly congratulate the brothers of Beta Theta Pi, Phi Gamma Delta and Sigma Nu for the acts of civility this past Friday.

The brothers of each Fraternity were quick to offer us aid when APO was suddenly displaced from our fundraising dance location this past Thursday afternoon for the event that was scheduled to occur less than 48 hours later on Saturday. Each chapter showed us the highest level of civility to which we are truly grateful.

Although complications arouse with Beta and FIJI they could not have been more cordial in the process and on such short notice. I must, however, specially recognize and thank the brothers of Sigma Nu who graciously opened their house to us the night after their own party. These brothers were nothing but happy and eager to be of assistance wherever needed!

I hope that all members of the Knox community will take a lesson in civility from each of these fraternities. None of them had to offer us help but they all did and all within a few hours of being contacted.

From this I challenge our community to continue this manner of unselfish civility and to set aside any ill feelings to help out one another.

– Heather Kopec, ‘10

On recycling

During the spring, Knox explodes with life. The grass is green and people are outside, enjoying the day, instead of just rushing to class. Last week, on the first nice day during classes, the Gizmo patio had a person in every chair, and every table was completely covered in a white and brown layer of Styrofoam from the cafeteria, the Oak room and the Gizmo. Helmut Meyer’s addition of Styrofoam take out containers not only in the Oak room, but in the cafeteria as well has dramatically increased the Styrofoam consumed on the campus. By granting students permission to carry out their meals, he gave the students the consumer responsibility of deciding whether or not to create a large amount of waste per meal.

It has been repeatedly said by many that Styrofoam cannot be decomposed by bacteria, meaning that given the knowledge and technology we have, we will always live with every piece of Styrofoam that we produce. With being ‘green’ coming into fashion in the mainstream markets, it is important to remember that an ever increasing amount of consumption can never be sustainable, and if one would like to reduce their environmental impact, it starts with consuming less (in terms of material items, not eating) and producing less waste. It is convenient and many people have very good reasons to justify their massive amount of Styrofoam consumption, yet it is important to understand that packaging and one-time-use containers are have become a major problem to which Americans are a large contributor.

One can say that someone else has the responsibility of creating a decomposable one-time-use packaging, which exists, or making excessive waste illegal, as many cities globally have slowly begun to do, but as an educated consumer and a user of the planet’s services, it is also the individual’s responsibility to decide what their actions will support. If you still use Styrofoam, please put it in the trash as it is not recyclable.

– Sarah Burger, ‘08

John Ashcroft speech, response

There were some good things in John Ashcroft’s speech, but a whole lot more bad. The principle negative aspects about the speech was the way he refused to answer some questions directly, brushed off the questions, or used a red herring in the form of jokes to avoid giving a straight answer. Case in point, whenever the subject of torture was bought up, he wandered away from the issue by asking what is torture by definition, and that a high school dance qualifies as a form of torture. He twice used the dance torture thing as an answer. OK, true. I did not go to my prom. But not only are high school teen rituals completely irrelevant to this matter, the analogy was in bad taste. How does some dance compare to the horror, abuse of human rights, and degradation that is Abu Ghraib?

Some of the students were rude, distracting, and were clearly aiming to goad Ashcroft, and they seemed to succeed in that respect. If he was aiming to improve his image or gain respect, he should have risen above the baiting, but he did not. One, among many examples, would be Deana Rutherford’s question regarding torture and waterboarding. She asked an intelligent question in a civil manner, but did not receive an answer. When she politely asked Ashcroft to answer her question, she was very rudely brushed off.

Another disappointment was that close to a dozen students did not get a chance to ask their questions. I got the impression that he did not want to engage in a discussion forum or continue talking to the students. He seemed in a hurry to get away from the Q & A, and this gave off a strongly disrespectful and bad impression. All in all, he was a letdown, but somehow that does not surprise me. I agree with my mother’s words that John Ashcroft is an Asshole.

-Polina Blintsovskaya, ‘09

When Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan passed away on October 16, 2000, he was challenging then-Senator John Ashcroft in a close, bitterly contested election. For the last three weeks of the election, the remains of Mr. Carnahan’s campaign fought bitterly for the election — while Mr. Ashcroft suspended his campaign for a month between Mr. Ashcroft’s subsequent narrow defeat at the polls and his later nomination to be Attorney General. Ashcroft’s chief claim to fame was as the sole Senatorial candidate to lose to a deceased opponent.

Yesterday evening Mr. Ashcroft acknowledged his defeat in that election smiling. He acknowledged a number of defeats and a number of challenges, but he refused to back down from claiming the things he still thinks of as victories.

I disagree with most of Mr. Ashcroft’s political positions — including the treatment of prisoners suspected of plotting terrorist activity. But I have enormous respect for Mr. Ashcroft nonetheless. Not once during his career has there been any serious attack on his integrity. Whatever his positions, he comes by them honestly.

He neither lied, nor played politics, nor told us what we wanted to hear. If sometimes Mr. Ashcroft became angry, and snapped back answers, we can hardly blame him. I commend him for remaining as coolheaded as he did, in the face of the insulting reception he received.

John Ashcroft came to this college and explained precisely why he undertook his controversial actions, and he was treated in a way that shames this college far more than it does Mr. Ashcroft, who yesterday had the courage to say what he thought in front of an audience he knew would be hostile.

We have free speech in this country. You may paint your hands red as blood and hold them up for all to see. You may lie down in the aisles and pretend to be dead. You may put a bag over your head and stand up in the middle of an auditorium. That is all legal — but it is not productive. The right of free speech exists for the sake of preserving a civil exchange of ideas. Yesterday Mr. Ashcroft participated in that exchange — and a great deal of Knox College did not.

-Sam Glaser, ‘10

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