Letters to the Editor: November 18

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Dear Editor,

Every day I eat at least one meal in the campus center. If I purchase a meal, drink, maybe a piece of fruit or bag of chips, there is no way to do this without a tray. So, I put things down because I can’t hold all of it. I’m also not about to wait in those long lunch-time lines twice.

Many of my fellow students feel the same way.

You may think Dining Services is saving money, but you are losing a significant amount of revenue in lost sales. It’s not helping the profit margin.

To say it is to prevent waste or to save money is ridiculous. The cost to students for food in campus center is equal to or in some cases greater than off campus. So, where is the savings from this trickling down other than to the university and third party contractors?

Keith Dahlke

School of Public Health



Dear Editor,

The editorial page on Wednesday November 18, 2009 was a delight for this student of civil rights and liberties. It contained a rich mix of commentary on the meaning of free expression on this campus. I feel fortunate to be a part of that dialogue. However, I would like to comment on the difference, for me, between the abstract notion of free expression and opinion on specific expression.

Free expression is valuable. It is enshrined in the Constitution and it is part of the enlightenment tradition that produced American institutions like open government, periodic elections and jury trials. And, in addition, the University is a place where speech has special protection because we do our best work when we are not afraid to speak.

On the other hand, we should engage the content of speech and not simply retreat to an abstract assertion that everyone has a right to say whatever they want. Free expression is really only valuable if we engage with what is said. Alana Goodman is right, the case of Andrew Card has parallels with that of Luc Levasseur. But it is not exactly the same.

In fact, one of the sillier parts of the discussion last week was the suggestion that, by letting Levasseur speak, the University would be endorsing terrorism. The University was not endorsing the views of Levasseur. As the Daily Collegian editorial points out, the Levasseur speech should have been protected in the interest of inquiry rather than advocacy. I think the police who protested had some sense of this with their silent vigil, although their signs and back room pressure said otherwise. I wish our administration had been clearer that we need to protect inquiry in the face of political pressure.

The case of Andrew Card was different because the University was indeed endorsing Card’s work, which included planning and advocating the American invasion of Iraq. Like many members of the University community, I opposed that award. But I was also aware that the expression of opposition to Card was a matter of considerable debate. It was a debate that had as one of its core values, freedom of expression.

John Brigham

UMass professor of political science