Letters to the Editor

Don’t settle

Our University has sold us on the concept of a culminating event after the completion of our GW educational experience to be held in a venue that is nearly unmatchable by other universities. You will graduate on the Ellipse with a picturesque view of the White House and Washington Monument, they said.

Not this year.

We could be angry and cry foul, but the University isn’t to blame. They didn’t decide that irrigation should be dug or that the Ellipse needed repair. They are just the unlucky recipients of an unfortunate pronouncement by the National Park Service.

So what should a broken-hearted student do? We should encourage our University not to settle for a second-rate graduation venue. We may miss out on the Ellipse, but we shouldn’t be put in a backup spot. I think we should try to find a location better than the MCI Center or RFK Stadium – I’ve been to Wizards and Nats games.

This is D.C. we are talking about here, not Podunk, USA. We’ve got open spaces outside of the Washington Monument sure to be able to hold a large graduation event. We’ve got the National Mall that has held hundreds of thousands of people for various gatherings. We are the largest employer in D.C. (outside of the federal government), so surely we’ve got some pull. I’d be more than happy to switch to the Mall or the Washington Monument.

As a soon-to-be-graduate of this University that looked forward to sitting on the Ellipse for my final day as a GW student, I’m sad to hear this is the year for irrigation. But this isn’t the time for sadness. This is the time when we need to stand together and work to find some place that will rival the Ellipse. Our city is full of beautiful outside spaces perfect for our graduation. Now we need to let our voice be heard that we want our graduation not to be a backup or an afterthought.

Make sure to let the administration know that we want our graduation to be an amazing event at a special venue, not a backup. Tell them. Write opinion pieces, send e-mails, call administrators, even have your parents call (they write the checks). So make sure we aren’t a backup graduation and make sure we pick a spot that will make future classes jealous. Graduates: don’t let our class be the one that missed out.

-Eric Koester, law student

Race still a factor

“George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” That’s what Kanye West said two weeks ago at a Hurricane Katrina telethon, and he was grammatically correct. Why then did Tyler Hahn call West “grammatically challenged” in his column “Katrina’s Concocted Race Card?” (Sept. 15, page 4). What was Hahn’s characterization based on? It couldn’t have been West’s words because they were grammatically correct. Was race a factor in Hahn’s misquote? Was it the sole reason? I don’t want to play the “race card” here; he might have just gotten it wrong.

The idea of the “race card” was constructed to reflect the sentiments of some who believe that race is used as the sole reason for improper treatment. History clearly demonstrates that the idea of the “race card” wasn’t just an idea, but a reality for many. The country was founded under a racist edict, where people weren’t just treated unequally because of their color, but were enslaved because of it. It has not even been 40 years since legal racism was completely determined unlawful. Laws in the United States are still being challenged as racist.

The shameful history of racism does not just disappear amid new efforts to curb racist tendencies in our country. Sadly, race is still a factor affecting people’s lives daily. The question many want an answer to is whether or not race influenced the response to Katrina and whether or not it has played a role in situations of disparate treatment in our country. The answer clearly is yes.

America and its leaders are charged with presenting valid, tangible solutions to race and class disparities in our country. The GW chapter of the NAACP will be holding a forum to discuss the matters of race and class in the Katrina response and the responsibilities of our government to repair inequality in New Orleans and elsewhere in the United States. Please contact the NAACP for the date and time as well as the full response to “Katrina’s Concocted Race Card.”

-Hilary Golston, senior

A lot to learn

In Tyler Hahn’s recent column (“Katrina’s concocted race card,” Sept. 15, page 4) callousness and ignorance meet at their respective apex. The Congressional Black Caucus is “corrupt?” Tell that to Rep. John Lewis, who was nearly killed in the South for his Civil Rights activism. The NAACP is “corrupt?” Tell that to GW’s chapter, a group of dedicated activists working on issues from equal education to a more just criminal justice system. Tell that to the NAACP staff that has raised thousands of dollars for Hurricane relief.

So, while these base charges cannot stand, it is his fundamental premise that is most disturbing. He mocks the idea of “black pain,” dismissing the idea that Katrina did, in fact, display our society’s poverty and segmentation. How many white faces did you see clinging to life outside the Convention Center? We had to watch African Americans literally dying in the street, begging for relief that should have already come. Would that agonizingly slow response have happened if the Hurricane had hit a wealthy, white community? Doubtful. That is why people are left to wonder what kind of value this administration really places on the lives of poor African Americans.

If Mr. Hahn cannot see that “relief” means more than just the physical reconstruction, but a reform of how we separate and ignore members of our society, he has a lot to learn about America. Perhaps attending an NAACP meeting would be a start.

-Paul Kendrick, graduate student

Missed opportunity

Last Saturday night my wife and I went to the Shakespeare Theater to see “Othello” – you know, the play to which you assigned a reviewer who isn’t “a Shakespeare enthusiast,” and who has difficulty sitting through any performance of his plays.

Interesting choice of reviewers; you could have sent Jaclyn Levy or one of your others who wouldn’t have approached the performance with an attitude.

The current production is one of the best I’ve seen in several decades of going to theaters in Chicago, New York, London, Boston and Washington. Not just the best production of Shakespeare, the best production of any play.

Students who miss “Othello” at the Shakespeare Theater because of your review will miss the theater experience of a lifetime.

-Gerry Kauvar, Ph.D., Special assistant to the president, Professorial lecturer in English

Baltimore flattery

It’s unfortunate to read sports columnist Jake Sherman’s job application with his column, “History, glory only miles away (Sept. 19, page 16). The Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Tourism Association surely have called him by now.

Despite Sherman’s sparkling review of Camden Yards compared with RFK Stadium, he forgets some basic facts that undermine his whole premise. Camden Yards was built 30 years after RFK Stadium, so of course, it’s going to be more luxurious. Check back for a more accurate comparison in 2008 when a new stadium opens in D.C. Second, I hope other readers noticed that the “history” alluded to in the headline goes back to 1995, with no mention of anything memorable since then. Why? It’s probably because Peter Angelos is the worst owner in baseball and has sucked the life out of an admittedly once great franchise.

-Greg Licamele, alumnus

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