Letters to the Editor: April 29, 2010

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Dear Editor,

UMass Amherst encourages students to ride bikes, as a way to help the environment. I don’t see any problem in this, but from my experiences as a student traveling on foot, bicyclists don’t have any safety concerns. When you put safety and bike in the same sentence, you think of a helmet.

There aren’t many bikers that wear a helmet when riding. From my observations on campus, one of every 15 bicyclists wears a helmet. There isn’t a law that you have to wear a helmet when riding a bike, but it can save your life if you ever get into an accident.

Most bicycle deaths are from head and face injuries. Each year, about 800 bicyclists are killed, and more than half a million are treated in hospital emergency rooms. In recent years, almost two-thirds of the deaths and one-third of the injuries involved head and face injuries. Shouldn’t this encourage people to wear a helmet?

Bicyclists and pedestrians share the same paths. There is a law which states that bicyclists must give pedestrians an audible signal before overtaking or passing them. Nobody has done this yet.

They could easily knock someone down when coming from behind at such a fast speed. Pedestrians shouldn’t have to worry about getting hurt by a biker.

Bicyclists should read the bike laws before they ride their bikes. This way there will be safety to both bikers and pedestrians – and can also prevent accidents from happening.

Jenny Yuen

Dear Editor,   

I am in dismay after reading the article today titled “Education over Taste of UMass” written by one of your columnists. He is misinformed and wrote without checking the facts.

Please let me tell the other side of the story.

UMass Dining, a division of Auxiliary Services, is a revenue-based operation, which means we are self-supporting and do not impact the general University operating budget.

The Taste of UMass event is largely sponsored by our fifty-some generous vendors which helps us to offset the rentals and other costs. What’s more, it’s free for the students on the meal plan, and does not cost a swipe!

Contrary to what the columnist said that the Taste of UMass is a waste of time; this is one of our most popular events and something that is anticipated by many. This year, students will enjoy the opportunity to sample home comfort foods from 15 countries, while being entertained by various student performances ranging from UMass Idol to the making of the longest sushi in New England to the student Iron Chef Competition. The event is a great way to gather with fellow students, build community and enrich the campus life experience.

To promote Earth Day – an educational presentation will be given by students from the Environmental Performance Action Committee during the Taste.

Our students look forward to the opportunity of having a change from the Dining Commons for a brief period to do something different, be entertained and enjoy some great food.

With 14,000 students on the meal plan who eat with us several times a day, seven days a week, special events such as the Taste of UMass, Guest Chef Series, Weekly Theme Specials, etc., help to break monotony and provide opportunities to experience regional and international cuisine – often with an educational component, such as Wild Alaska Seafood Week, Farmers’ Market, etc.

UMass has one of the most innovative dining programs in the country, and we are proud of it. We are fortunate to be able to host an event such as the Taste of UMass – to celebrate the end of another school year, with friends, fun and good food.


Ken Toong

Executive Director, UMass Dining Services

Dear Editor,

Concerning the article “Student wins $800,000 in bullying case,” it would have been reasonable to file a lawsuit against the perpetrator of a severe act of bullying. However, the fact that a Michigan school was required to pay a student $800,000 defies the use of our judicial system. This case was similar in stature to a plea against a New York McDonald’s. 

In 2003, plaintiffs claimed that the fast food chain was responsible for their obesity. This case was thrown out of court by a federal judge. The Michigan bullying lawsuit should have met the same demise. Both of these cases were instances where the plaintiffs were looking for monetary compensation to help ease their own problems.

The school was found responsible for not doing everything in its power to prevent and stop the bullying. I feel the victim’s parents are equally responsible for not properly consoling and treating their child.

It is more the duty of the parents than the school to ensure that the child was not being tormented. The effects of bullying have come under close scrutiny in recent years, especially considering some of the more drastic occurrences. In this case, I feel the evidence presented provided no justification for the final ruling.

Cory Kulacz

UMass Student

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Dear Editor,

There seem to be many controversial topics floating through campus conversations. The most prominent one I’ve heard concerns the legalization of marijuana. Massachusetts has already decriminalized the drug, but what about the rest of the nation?            

The broad question is always, ‘should we or shouldn’t we?’ It seems to me that college students have the most interest in the matter and usually lean towards the full legalization of the drug. 

If the government were to legalize it for medicinal, use there would be an overwhelming relief for those in need of it, but it could lead to an increase in the abuse of the drug. Legalizing the drug as a whole could allow the government to create tax revenue. However, this could also allow drug dealers to stay on the streets selling harder drugs other than marijuana and could consequently cause the government to spend more money on the drug war.

The issue that seems to be the deciding factor is whether or not marijuana is a ‘gateway drug.’ I believe this issue is not as prominent as people think, and it should not hold us back from legalizing it in order to see benefits for the sick and for our government.

Michaela Streitfield

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