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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Letters to the Editor:

Published: December 7, 2007
Section: Opinions

(In respose to “Student Events”)

Dear Editor,

It seems, in the last week or so, that our campus has been divided by the recent decision of the administration to set aside a portion of the Student Activities Fee for Student Events. Everywhere I turn, I am assaulted by propaganda and rhetoric – vague references to ‘The Adminstration’s Decision to Steal My Money.” I have been invited to multiple events on campus to protest, and read multiple articles about Student Events’ deal with the devil.

Here’s the thing – I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Not only do I not think it’s a bad idea, I think it’s a good one, and I think the Union is being entirely hypocritical in their protest. Let me explain:

As far as I can tell, Student Events isn’t asking for more money than they’ve received in the past; they are simply asking for a new, simpler way to access it. And let’s face it – how many of us disagree with that? How many times have you needed to spend money for a club and had to wait days for Treasurer Choon Woo Ha to help you out? How many of us have, instead, spent our own money and then waited weeks for a reimbursement check? What Student Events is asking for is a more direct way to access their funding, and that’s not really something I can argue with.

Jason Gray, Director of Union Affairs, was quoted in The Hoot stating, “representation would be lacking, because Student Events leaders are not elected.” What about the Assistant Treasurers appointed by Ha? According to the Treasurer’s website, Assistant Treasures are to “be involved in all aspects of policy making procedures.” These certainly aren’t people I elected. Where’s the representation there?

As for the Union’s hypocrisy, let’s examine this. According to Shreeya Sinha, “for two months this was undercover; in two weeks it was proposed; in one weekend it was decided; and there were two days for a counterproposal.” How long was F-Board discussing its Free Admissions Finance Reform before the student body was made aware of it? And where was our chance, as club leaders, to give input or to create a counterproposal? The Union has no right to object to a lack of transparency in any situation.

People claim that Student Events will no longer be a student group. While it’s true that they will no longer be eligible for F-Board funding, the structure of their group will remain unchanged – the process for selecting Student Events officers won’t change, and neither will their operation as a club. Do we think, then, that they have suddenly become less capable, simply because their spending is supervised by the administration rather than F-Board?

Maybe this wasn’t handled as well as it could have been – I will be the last person to stand up and say the administration is perfect in the way that it functions. But I have no patience for the Union’s hypocrisy in its protests, and I ask that you take a moment to think about it before you stand in their support.

– Naomi Adland ’08

Editor’s Note: Naomi Adland

is an Office Assistant in the

Dept. of Student Activities.


(In response to “Give the Police a Chance”)

Dear Editor,

In her original piece (“Give the Police a Chance,” Nov. 9), Ms. Callahan claims to be defending her father (Chief Ed Callahan) and his department from unfounded attacks launched by an increasing number of people who choose to be uniformed and ignorant. Strong charges,to be sure, but almost certainly invented by the author.

Ms. Callahan, who feels personally compelled to educate the Brandeis community and believes that the community deserves to know the real story about Public Safety, not just what people believe is true, devotes her entire piece to presenting her own beliefs about the family-oriented, hard-working Americans in Public Safety, never pausing to observe the seemingly lurid irony that her beliefs are truer than ours.

Yet in her self-assumed status as arbiter of truth, Ms. Callahan fails to mention that campus does not hold the beliefs she says it does. I do not know how Ms. Callahan was able to intuit that the majority of the Brandeis community has been suddenly overcome with vitriolic hatred for its Public Safety officers, since there is precisely no evidence supporting that conclusion, and claims that deviants (like myself) have created a Salem witch-hunt environment, in which distrust of the officers and Chief Callahan’s competence is rampant, need to be demonstrated, not declared.

I therefore agree with Ms. Callahan: the debate about whether Public Safety officers are incompetent, scary, randomly violent individuals, a debate which she inaugurated on Nov. 9, should end, since she seems to be the only one party to it; the debate about weapons on campus should continue, as I discuss below.

In her second piece (“Clearing up confusion,” Nov. 30), Ms. Callahan discusses the Virginia Tech and Columbine shootings. Worried about the problem of violence penetrating the walls of idealism here at Brandeis, Ms. Callahan suggests that the best way to reduce violence is to preventatively arm the Brandeis police with guns, the very weapons that Seung-Hui Cho (the VT shooter) and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (the Columbine shooters) used themselves; a dubious proposal, to be sure. Perhaps this is why Ms. Callahan feels the need to assure us that she does in fact love this campus as much as anyone else, even though guns are admittedly not the magical cure all and despite the fact that she herself strongly disagrees with the idea that guns solve all.

It is well known that Cho, Harris and Klebold suffered severe mental illness for sometime preceding their atrocities. Ms. Callahan’s position is that armed Public Safety officers will prevent another Columbine. Maybe, but is she certain? After all, the Campus Police at VT had guns the day of the shooting. It seems to me that a more comprehensive approach would be to improve and expand psychological services, helping to treat and identify vulnerable students before they become overtly violent.

In case of an emergency, proposals that address the needs of the nebulous entity known as the Brandeis community, reduce the likelihood that a shooting will be disastrous.

Alternatively, proposals that address the needs of individuals reduce the likelihood that there will be a shooting, and therein lies the crucial difference. To suggest that arming Public Safety officers will make Brandeis safer is rather like suggesting that the best way to empty a rapidly-filling sink is bucket-by-bucket, and not by turning off the faucet. Simply put, a sensible policy addresses the cause of a problem and a progressive policy improves the quality of life for citizens, pious and villainous alike. Picking off the miscreants one-by-one is neither sensible nor progressive. Rather, it promises to be a protracted battle, and almost certainly a losing one, which will ultimately serve only to increase the amount of violence on campuses.

Finally, I find repellent Ms. Callahan’s repeated claims that concerned students need to relax and realize that the decision to arm has been made; we must simply accept it, regardless of whether or not the decision to arm was a good one. I believe that the death knell of injustice sounds when the capacity of organized, committed individuals to effect change is dismissed as trivial, and it would seem that on this issue, Ms. Callahan agrees with me. In a previous piece (“Wake up and smell the violence,” Oct. 12), she wrote the following: “We have chosen to simply accept violence as an inevitable reality, a part of life from which we will never escape. But we need not simply accept violence as out of our realm of power.” This earlier remark contradicts her more recent statements of powerlessness, and it is on this point of solidarity that I will conclude.

– Kevin Conway ’09


(In response to “Why I didn’t fall for Ron Paul”)

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the Article entitled “Why I didn’t fall for Ron Paul” (Nov. 30). Normally, I try to avoid the Ron Paul baiting by some writers who are looking for a few extra minutes of attention. However, Mr. Matthews article was so wrong headed I could not let it go without comment.

First, Mr. Matthews points out inflation is not some new phenomena and has been with humanity as long as currency. He then asserts that the “trick is to keep low inflation in check, and that is exactly what the Federal Reserve does.” However, Mr. Matthews statement ignores the fact that since at least the 1990s the Federal Reserve (the “Fed”) has taken on the additional duty of managing economic growth through interest rates as well as managing inflation. With this new mission, the Federal Reserve has been less capable of managing inflation especially with the current wartime budget.

Second, Mr. Matthews has a completely sophomoric view on how the Fed manages inflation. Yes, the Economics 101 text books explain that the Fed manages inflation by either buying or selling government debt (bonds); but, this is not how the current system works at all. Rather, the money supply is generally determined by the prime interest rate, the rate at which member banks can borrow money from the Fed.

When the rate is low, member banks will borrow more from the Fed and when it is higher they will borrow less. Regardless of how much is borrowed, the Fed then creates more money to make loans to the banks. The simple fact is that the Fed’s role is to be the supplier of money, its ability to supply money is not tied to anything, no commodity, no numerical limit, nothing.

But even if Mr. Matthews is correct and the purchase and sale of bonds is how the Fed regulates inflation, he still should ask where are the bonds coming from and where is the money coming from to buy the bonds? The plain answer is thin air.

Third, I find Mr. Matthews comment that “No one person can control the economy, and it would be foolish to let the masses try” To be very disturbing because it shows a great deal of contempt for humans. Nevertheless, his tone and world view only leads me to wonder if he is so suspicious of individuals privately interacting with the economy, why does he have so much confidence that people in government can?

Lastly, I would like to express my general disappointment with Mr. Matthews article. I found his contention on the utility of the Federal Department of Education (DoE) to make America’s children competitive to be one dimensional and petty rhetoric since the one size fits education program promulgated by the DoE has done more to hurt American education than help. I also sound his contention that the United Nations is “the one body that we can use to achieve global cooperation” laughable; the UN which could not stop the US Iraq invasion, which cannot stop the rebellion in Darfur, which constantly denounces Israel is somehow the vehicle for global cooperation. I do not know where he gets his information, but Mr. Matthews needs to find new sources.

– Brutus Cato



(In response to “Why I didn’t fall for Ron Paul”)

Dear Editor,

In response to Bret Matthew’s column “Why I didn’t fall for Ron Paul” (Nov. 30):

First of all, our government does not control our money. A partnership of private banks called The Federal Reserve Corporation prints our money. They are not accountable to the government and have never been audited.

What Ron Paul is proposing is an end to debt money, our current monetary form. Debt money goes beyond fiat currency, which is partially backed by real money, to a system where the money supply is not tied to any real value at all.

Currently, the issuance of new currency devalues the existing currency. If you save money in a bank, it is just like the Federal Reserve takes a percentage of your money every month.

This system works great for those that are first issued the currency, the banks and corporations, but the effect is negative on private citizens, who are being robbed by this process.

All modern central banks experience inflation. All inflationary currencies collapse eventually. It is a certainty, not a speculation. That is how the mechanics of it works.

Ron Paul is a free market economist of the Austrian school of economics. This system of economics not only offers a way to build a sound, competitive currencies, but it is also a system that is compatible with individual liberty.

Read F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” for an understanding of Ron Paul’s position on money. Better yet, read Ron Paul’s book, “Mises and Austrian economics: A personal view”

His position is very well thought out and very workable. Ron Paul is on the following committees:

Member, House Committee on Financial Services; Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology; Member, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations; Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Member, Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight; Member, Subcommittee on The Western Hemisphere; and Member, Joint Economic Committee

To understand his views on the economy, be prepared to crack a few books, because to intelligently debate his points, you need to have a decent background in economics and history.

– Scriven Taylor


(In response to “Why I didn’t fall for Ron Paul”)

Dear Editor,

Bret Matthew demonstrates his lack of understanding of economics and the second commandment when he equivocates for the fed and the current economic policy (“Why I didn’t fall for Ron Paul, Nov. 30). Long after the federal reserve note dollars collapse, commodity backed currencies will still retain value.

You would be wise to understand this next paragraph, since it is the soul of the Revolution I am getting to:

A federal reserve note is worth its weight in paper and our faith in the images printed upon it. This is de facto idolatry and we will be punished to the 3rd and 4th generation by debt. Our modern Revolution has a lot of the same goals as the Maccabee Rebellion we celebrate next week: ending idolatry and globalization.

The government cannot fix something like Global Warming without a massive revolution behind it ready to take up the lifestyle changes required to live in better harmony with our environment.

– Amir Hirsch



(In response to “Why I didn’t fall for Ron Paul”)

Dear Editor,

Bret [Matthews] must actually believe the government when it prints its CPI, PPI and other inflation numbers (“Why I didn’t fall for Ron Paul,” Nov. 30). If one were to simply use the method for calculating CPI that was used early in the Clinton administration one would see that our current measure of inflation is closer to 7-10%. If one were able to monitor the growth of the money supply, M3, one would likely see that inflation is running at about 10% if not more. Of course, we don’t know what M3 growth is today because the current administration decided to stop collecting the data and publishing that number.

All empires end badly and their fiat currencies collapse because they own the printing press.

So, if you want to protect yourself from the government debasement of the currency you will hold physical gold.

– Robert Moore


(In response to “Clearing Up Confusion”)

Dear Editor,

Chrissy Callahan’s recent opinion piece, (“Clearing Up Confusion,” Nov. 30) is a worthwhile article to read because it showcases two important facts: 1) Many people are misinformed as to the nature of both the anti-gun debate and key facts in the debate, and 2) that simply because a decision was already made does not mean supporters should relax, accept that, and then succumb to blind faith in the Brandeis administration.

One of Ms. Callahan’s primary points was that gun control laws could have partially prevented Columbine, and so too can preventative arming of the Brandeis police ease the fallout of a potential shooter, God forbid someone the likes of the Virginia Tech shooter invades the Brandeis campus. However, this comment completely ignored the fact that the campus police at Virginia Tech were already armed. Callahan concedes that arming is not a cure-all, but completely ignores that arming could actually be damaging to the Brandeis community.

The debate is not simply about arming or not arming Brandeis public safety. There are other key issues: that students, faculty, and employees were originally ignored in the making of a decision that affects the entire community and that there are other preventative measures that must be taken as well before arming occurs. For example, better mental health services at Brandeis or better training for Community Advisors to locate discontent students who are having trouble fitting in or getting along with members of the community.

At the end of her piece Ms. Callahan asks SODA to relax and realize that the decision has been made, and to have faith in the administration, since they’re doing the best that they can. It is now more important than ever for activists to have their voices heard on the issue. It’s true that the administration is doing the best they can, but blind faith is not helpful. The administration has made mistakes before and like any other administration will make mistakes in the future, intentional or not.

The role of activists is to make that the implementation of the arming goes not only smoothly but also creates an environment where people feel safe. I have no doubt that public safety will receive training, but is that training enough? Does a campus require more intensive diversity training? Or possibly, does carrying arms on a campus require a different type of training that focuses more specifically on the issues that could potentially affect a college campus? These are important questions that need answers, and instead of relaxing I hope that the activist community at Brandeis does whatever it takes to make sure these questions are answered.

– Eric Pekar ’08