Letters to the Editor

Cite reaction, not tragedy

I was completely appalled when I read University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s quote in the article discussing his stepping down from keynote speaker today (“SJT steps down as keynote,” Apr. 19, p. 1). It is ridiculous and offensive to use the tragedy at Virginia Tech as an excuse for his removal from the role as Commencement keynote speaker.

The two issues are not remotely connected. Trachtenberg should have cited the community response as his reasoning, considering it was likely the true force behind the decision. Instead, he belittled the pain of the incident at Virginia Tech by tying it to the completely inconsequential argument over the keynote speaker. It’s disgusting, disrespectful and a cowardly way to keep from admitting the disapproval against him.

I may not have wholly agreed with his appointment as keynote speaker in the first place, but now I don’t want to hear from him period.

-Lauren Knight, Senior

Listen to SJT, appreciate GW today

There is a possibility that the current GW students could be somewhat spoiled in many ways, and now especially so in the Commencement speaker flap. In my day, our graduation was addressed by GW President Dr. Cloyd H. Marvin on the University Yard. As a resident of Foggy Bottom, current President Trachtenberg and I have disagreed, but he is an electrifying speaker with a great sense of humor.

I hope it doesn’t rain, and I suggest you listen to his words.

-John Graves, Alumnus

Speaking from experience

University President Trachtenberg’s decision to withdraw as the Commencement keynote speaker is regrettable. He would have delivered a poignant, insightful, humorous and memorable address.

I recall that when Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons was selected to deliver the keynote address at the 2002 GW Commencement, student opinion was split. Many students criticized administrators for selecting Ruth Simmons, but in the end, the 2002 Commencement ceremony was a great success.

In 2006, when I graduated with my medical degree, President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush delivered the keynote address. For me, the 2002 and 2006 commencement days were equally enjoyable.

The real joy of Commencement day will come from sharing the moment with one’s friends and family. There is a spectacular sense of achievement along with feelings of euphoria and profound humility. I urge the graduating students to reconsider their protest and submit that President Trachtenberg should be requested to retract his decision.

-Mohammad Ali Raza, M.D., Alumnus

Address mental health issues at universities

In the wake of the news that the Virginia Tech shooter was a “troubled” soul who had undergone mental health counseling multiple times, I believe it’s time for those members of the University community who reacted with outrage against GW’s policy of removing such individuals from the campus community to rethink their stance.

Because the shooter had not yet committed a criminal act, Virginia Tech officials were hamstrung in their efforts to guide him into any type of therapy or facility after discovering his disturbing writings. More importantly, they were unable to remove him and the danger he posed to university.

As long as people with mental health illnesses suffer from denial and their parents and guardians turn a blind eye or put the worry out of their minds because their child is away at school, there is no way to get these people the help they may need.

The exception, of course, is GW’s policy, which allows for the removal of the individual. Such a policy forces both the sufferer and his or her parents or guardians to face the problem.

Universities are in limbo with this issue, but the Virginia Tech shooting shows that colleges should not be the ones forced to deal with erratic behavior and “warning signs.” This is especially true since they have no power or mechanism available to ensure that a student’s mental health needs are truly met and that the rest of the student body is protected.

-Erin Lamb, Alumna

Shameful affiliations

Have you ever taken the time to look into some our University’s political commitments? Well I have, and I am distressed to report that the hands of our administration are filthy.

My awareness to such matters began with my realization of GW’s membership in the American Turkish Council – a powerful lobby that is working to block a Congressional resolution that would acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.

The Armenian Genocide refers to the purging of the Armenian population from its homeland (1915-1917) at the hands of the Young Turk government. The death marches and massacres cost 1.5 million their lives, but to this day, the United States has been incapable of acknowledging the atrocities as genocide.

It was revolting to discover that my University is party to genocide denial. President Trachtenberg may be commended for his individual recognition of the genocide, but the University’s ATC membership derogates his candor, nonetheless. By attaching GW’s name to this lobby, our administration is implicitly supporting the council’s viewpoints.

While the European Parliament and the Council of Europe officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, recognition in the U.S. is a political dilemma: Turkey is a crucial ally, with its NATO membership and vital military bases. It is therefore critical that lobbying groups such as the ATC are not bolstered by institutions of higher learning.

A number of student groups have called on GW to revoke its membership in the ATC. To support these actions, contact GWinsight@gmail.com.

-Alison Tahmizian Meuse, Sophomore

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.