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ISSUE 117 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/5/2004

Letters to the Editor

By Melanie Meinzer
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 5, 2004

Dear Mess Editors,

Last weeks article about the shadow forum reported that the St. Olaf Committee for Intellectual Diversity was protesting the Peace Prize Forum as an event, not peace itself. The Commitee argues that the Forum did not encompass a wide enough range of opinions and therefore should not have occurred. As noble as the goals of the Committee may have been, their tactics grossly undermined any credibility their cause may originally have had.

The common axiom Do as I say, not as I do comes to mind. The Committee attempted to promote diverse views on campus, yet protested those that ran counter to their own. They purport to be a non-partisan organization, but only expressed and fought for politically conservative viewpoints; this fact leads me to identify them as conservative, not diverse.

Furthermore, when you protest an event as innocuous and well-meaning as a forum about peace, you come across as protesting the subject of the forum, or peace itself. That, in my mind, is a problem.

If ever an ideal existed upon which all political parties should agree, it is peace. Though the Committee claims they arent against peace, their actions speak to the contrary. They handed out literature blasting President Carter, staged a self-aggrandizing shadow forum to promote their diverse message, and commissioned an article in the Star Tribune designed to accuse and slander the St. Olaf community, in effect promoting division and conflict instead of peace.

Instead of heightening the growing rift between political parties, we should take advantage of seemingly inclusive topics like peace, and unifying events like a forum, to quell this division. Doing so will allow us to move forward productively as a more unified people and country.

 Jeremy Glen '04

Dear Mess Editors,

I was deeply troubled upon reading Carl Schroeders article. I can assure Schroeder that there is a lack of intellectual diversity at St. Olaf, as I have personally had to deal with the issue.

Schroeder claims that no accounts of students discriminated against exist. To these baseless accusations, all I can say is that bias is present on campus, even if Schroeder has not experienced it firsthand. The administration and faculty of St. Olaf have had ample opportunities to quell student concerns over intellectual diversity in the classroom.

A now infamous event occurred at St. Olaf first semester. A sociology professor sent out anti-Bush propaganda over the classroom alias. The students were too afraid to confront the professor for fear of lowered grades. The professor sent an apology to the class, claiming he would not distribute such information again, but soon rescinded and sent out more anti-Bush propaganda.

Students frustrated with the lack of the administrations response to this event, as well as faculty cooperation concerning the lack of intellectual diversity in St. Olaf classrooms, have raised their concerns, and finally, someone listened, albeit the press. Perhaps, Mr. Schroeder, instead of bashing conservatives, you should instead be watching for obvious classroom bias. Perhaps then, you would see that were not having a hissy fit, but are instead trying to gain equality for political diversity at St. Olaf.

 Katie Rusch '05

Dear Mess Editors,

Creating a comfortable and tolerant classroom environment for all students and executing a war against terrorism are hardly comparable. Obviously, someone needs to enlighten the confused and emotional Left on the issue of bias in the classroom and its effects on conservative students.

Many of my professors at St. Olaf seem compelled, usually within the first two weeks of class, to share the fact that they don't like Bush or that they think Bush is wrong on some point completely irrelevant to classroom conversation. Considering the visceral hatred Bush appears to evoke in liberals, I know that if I want to be in said professors' good graces, or have a friendly relationship with them, I had better keep my mouth shut. If they don't like Bush then they probably don't like me either.

The fact that the staff of this college is not sympathetic to the comfort of their conservative patrons shows that there is indeed a problem here.

I have written several emails complaining of grievous breaches of judgment by various faculty members and have been met by indifferent responses every time. Tell me, Mr. Schroeder, is there a problem here? If you think for a second that you wouldn't complain if you felt alienated and discriminated against in a large amount of your classes, you are living in a partisan lie. If you can't respect the beliefs of half of the country's population, the least you could do is respect their right to a well-run service. Perhaps Counterpoint should contact the Better Business Bureau and quit trying to pull the heartstrings of an impassive administration.

 Derek Zumbach 06

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