Tag Archives: response

Is USF Really Too Politicized?

Headshot for Charlotte online(Response to Professor Fels)

Charlotte Perry-Houts is a Senior History Major.

In last week’s issue of the Foghorn, Professor Anthony Fels wrote an opinion piece criticizing classes and departments at USF for being “left-wing” and “politicized.” Fels argues that this university in general has too many faculty who “politicize” their course material, this problem perpetuates itself when such faculty and administrators are entrusted with hiring, and that “politicized” material should be saved for extracurricular opportunities offered here at USF, rather than the classroom.

Continue reading Is USF Really Too Politicized?

Response To “My Students Need To Know They Are Valued For Who They Are”

Verdah Kazi is a sophomore psychology major.
Verdah Kazi is a sophomore psychology major.

As a student, I have experienced most, if not all, of the stressors thrusted upon me to be the best candidate possible to succeed. It starts young. We’re beginning to scare the little ones with, “high school is going to be much harder, so you better start now,” and, “if you don’t do well now, you won’t get into a good college,” and, “when you’re in college, you’re completely on your own.” We’ve been convinced that the best student is the one who gets straight A’s in the hardest of classes, impressive internships with prestigious institutions, and impeccable work experience. But you also can’t forget to get involved in school events, clubs, and organizations. No pressure, right? Continue reading Response To “My Students Need To Know They Are Valued For Who They Are”

Letter to Nick White: Why I Voted

USF student Nick White has a very nuanced set of opinions that he has shared with the Foghorn.  He is able to articulate himself in a breadth of important topics and should be commended for his ability to do so.  However, his latest article on why he would not vote in the 2012 election proved to be deeply disappointing, not just because it showed a cavalier attitude toward a tradition that many would and have killed for, but also because it lacked the consistency and effort in thought that I have grown to admire in White’s columns.

To unilaterally abstain from voting because the only viable candidates in a presidential race are for whatever reason objectionable undermines the importance of causes we profess to care so much about. Candidates may be of little interest to White, but clearly the issues are not. This year, every ballot in the state of California is equipped with several localized elections and ten propositions. One proposition in particular, Proposition 34, repeals the death penalty, which White has been an outspoken critic of. It is difficult to not question the importance of certain issues to White if he is unwilling to engage in this most basic of form of civic engagement.  In fairness to White, he may not be a registered voter in California.  However, his home state of Georgia does propose two amendments to the state constitution, one of which deals with the functionality of the public school system which he may have benefitted from.

Perhaps White is unfamiliar with the concept of compulsory voting, whereupon citizens in a democracy such as Brazil or Australia are compelled to vote in order to avoid paying a fine.  In these types of environments, it is still possible to abstain from voting for a viable candidate through ballot spoiling. Ballot spoiling is also prevalent in the U.S. The 2008 Minnesota Senate race infamously had a ballot voting for “Lizardmen” in the write-in category of some races while simultaneously casting a viable vote for Al Franken for U.S. Senate.

What does it mean for a vote to matter? This is not defined clearly. It does however appeal to a populist viewpoint that voting does not matter. The Minnesota Senate race along with the 2010 congressional race of my home district showed a difference of less than 1% of voters between the two candidates. Surely such votes matter enormously in close elections like these.  I would argue that they also matter in races with wider differences.

The benefit of such circumstances is avoiding ballot-by-ballot legal challenges and creating smoother transitions of power.  An unabashed willingness to abstain from voting on these grounds undermines the necessity of candidates to hear the opinions of the college-aged demographic as a potential constituency. It also perpetuates an absurd and self-involved notion that the only worthwhile races to vote in are the presidential ones. It is certainly acceptable, albeit begrudgingly, for a person to abstain from voting. However, these ill-conceived rationalizations are insulting to the reader.

Letter: Hull-Nye's "Marriage" is Off The Mark

I would like to address an article written by one of my friends and classmates, Dylan Hull-Nye. While Dylan and I have our disagreements, Dylan is and has been a very kind-hearted individual. However, I’m not entirely convinced his article on marriage reflects a genuine understanding of what marriage is.

Marriage has always been variously applied to individuals of different faiths, cultures and economic backgrounds and its origins are up for debate even amongst Christians. Dylan cites a passage from Genesis to further his point that God institutes marriage (Genesis 2:23-24). He does not mention the discrepancies within Genesis that suggest that man and woman may have been created simultaneously (Genesis 1:27). Instead, Dylan asserts that marriage is only possible between couples who are capable of creating children, and that this would exclude same-sex couples. Finally, he concludes that it was God’s intention to create the union of marriage exclusively for Man and Woman.

The debate over what constitutes marriage, especially at a Jesuit university, comes down to what approach a person uses when reading scripture. I lean more towards a historical-critical approach. My impression is that Dylan chooses to read these passages at his own discretion. This type of approach is can be detrimental when applying it to real world situations. For example, by Dylan’s interpretation, an infertile couple could arguably meet God’s disapproval, and Christians can refuse to recognize such a couple as married. I think Dylan and I would both agree this is not the case.

If my sacred scripture class has taught me anything, it is that moral disapproval of certain types of marriages through the use of biblical passages can incite prejudice and discrimination. For example, in 1975 Bob Jones University implemented a policy prohibiting its students from interracial dating, marriage or being a part of a group that advocates for such causes. The justification behind this was based on a biblical interpretation of Genesis, specifically God’s intention to separate man into three races based on Noah’s descendants, Ham, Shem and Japheth (where, for example, the sons of Ham included “Orientals and Negroes”). The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, found enough reason to disapprove of BJU’s policies and uphold the IRS’s removal of its tax-exempt status.

What is marriage? It would certainly depend on any given society. For ours we put an emphasis on love, but for others a dowry system or arranged marriages are perfectly acceptable. These historical and cultural differences are proof that marriage has different meaning to different people. To my friend Dylan, I would just remind him that gay students are no different than us heterosexual students, and perhaps that is why some Christians “unquestioningly accept” those within the LGBTQ community. I am proud to attend a university that accepts people of all faiths, orientations, ethnic backgrounds, and political ideologies because I know acceptance is something difficult to come by in a judgmental world.

Letter: What Exactly is Amanda Rhoades' "Ideal" for Students for Life?

Many members of the Students for Life club at USF are unsure whose notion of ideal Ms. Rhoades cited in her February 2nd opinion “USF Students For Life Club Less Than Ideal.” The organization is based upon an ideal. In an ideal world, parents do not terminate the lives of their children, doctors do not administer death to patients, and keepers of justice do not stoop to repaying wrongs with murder. In an ideal world, the dignity of human life is upheld. There is everything commendable about trying to bring these ideals into the world, and everything reprehensible about having ideals and doing nothing.

There is agreement when Ms. Rhoades says “being exposed to viewpoints that differ from [our] own is a good way to promote civil discussion,” but one cannot help but disagree with her next statement: that “when dealing with…issues like abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and capital punishment, it seems like having a campus club is not the wisest choice for promoting discussion of varying opinions.” When one decides to express an opinion, it does not do to merely think it. Expression requires action or word; so we are doing both. Furthermore, while open discussion is beneficial to learning about others’ thoughts and promotes deep reflection about values and ideals, discussion is not enough to bring about ideals.

I am unsure how to approach Ms. Rhoades’s self-contradiction. That “USF has an illustrious history of hosting pro-choice speakers, specifically at their Global Women’s Rights Forum in March of 2010,” is clearly at odds with her statement about University backing of the group: “It appears as though the University only supports a single viewpoint, putting the institution truly at odds with those in disagreement.” It seems as though she would only have pro-choice sentiments communicated, while excluding the expression of the opinions of Students for Life, and still “implore the University to encourage discussion as opposed to giving the appearance of supporting a single viewpoint.”
Ms. Rhoades also cites the University’s reputation as a reason to oppose the club’s existence: “USF’s support for this organization doesn’t seem like a good way to solidify its reputation as a progressive educational institution in which people can discuss their viewpoints.” It seems that some think that the reputation of the University is in jeopardy if certain members of the University make our ideals known. However, many would agree that the reputation of this institution has already been solidified in its 150 plus years of existence, and that its good reputation is unthreatened by a human rights student organization seeking to uphold the rights to life of unborn children, death-row inmates, and the esteemed elderly. If anything, the presence of Students for Life testifies to USF’s reputation of being a place to discuss viewpoints and further the cause of social justice.

Please note this is a personal response to “USF Students For Life Club Less Than Ideal” (February 2, 2010). Though this response was reviewed by the organization’s student head, it may not reflect the opinions of all members of the club.