Letters to the Editor

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Study abroad clarifications

To the Editor:

Both professional ethics and federal law (FERPA) prevent my discussing an individual student’s educational record or study abroad proposal. Nonetheless I’d like to comment on a few campus rumors and questions about recent events, with apologies in advance if it sounds unsympathetic to anyone.

None of this year’s applicants were turned down simply because s/he picked a program not on our recommended list.

The IC staff does not, after the deadline, notify students of missing application forms because we elect not to give an unfair advantage to one student over others who turned in a completed application on time. We do, however, ensure via contacting advisors or the registrar that no such forms were lost in the mail.

All students were copiously informed of the effect of an incomplete application and were given aids to ensure they didn’t forget anything. These included a checklist of necessary components and a large reminder poster in the IC front hall during the final 24 hours.

Some students who applied for a non-listed program were advised by me that “it would probably be difficult” to get approval for the program they were suggesting. Some made other choices, some proved their case anyway, some didn’t.

All students who were turned down were reminded that they could choose to study abroad this coming summer or next fall. Few have chosen to meet with me about this yet.

In all recent appeals, EPAG has confirmed that the standards applied by the Study Away Review Committee in making the original decision were fair and applied appropriately.

Katherine N. Yngve

Study Abroad Coordinator

Bringing back midnight breakfast

To the Editor:

A group of students and staff are bringing back Midnight Breakfast (That’s Not Really at Midnight). Though only the current seniors will remember this beloved finals tradition, we hope to share it with all students this December 19th from 10 p.m. until midnight. Faculty and staff are asked to volunteer to serve food and coffee to the stressed-out student body. Off-campus or on, all students are invited to come, eat and relax with friends and professors in Caf? Mac. Each of us is responsible for building community and tradition at Mac, so please be considerate of fellow students and the faculty volunteers who put so much effort into this event. If you’re a faculty or staff member and would like to help out please sign up by emailing Spencer Edelman ([email protected]) or Tara Stormoen Martinez ([email protected]). If you’re a student who’d like to get involved, ask a prof to volunteer, tell your friends to attend, and come to a meeting on Thursday, December 8th at 10:30 p.m. in the Campus Center. Hope to see you there!

Spencer Edelman ’06

Rachel Tenney ’06

ID and “March of the Penguins”

To the Editor:

I am writing in regard to Professor Sim’s article “Penguins: the backdoor strategy.” I would simply like to clarify her point about March of the Penguins acting “as the pop culture icon that intelligent design use to market itself to the masses.”

While it is certainly the case that the religious right has latched onto this film as supposed evidence of intelligent design, the director of the film, Luc Jacquet, disagrees. “It does annoy me to a certain degree [that his film has been hijacked],” he said in an Oct. 22 interview with The Times. “For me there is no doubt about evolution. I am a scientist. The intelligent design theory is a step back to the thinking of 300 years ago. My film is not supposed to be interpreted in this way.”

As Professor Sim writes, conservatives have also argued that the film exemplifies conservative values, in particular marital fidelity. Again, Jacquet objects: “If you want an example of monogamy, penguins are not a good choice. The divorce rate in emperor penguins is 80 to 90 per cent each year. After they see the chick is OK, most of them divorce. They change every year.” This is substantially worse than the American divorce rate, which hovers around 50 percent each year.

I think it is unfortunate and ironic that March of the Penguins has become a banner of right-wing ideology. It is this sort of ill-informed mentality that the right-wing has used again and again, resulting in the current quagmire that our country is in.

Tim Lehman ’09

Elitism in academia is alienating

To the Editor:

Professor Kim’s attempts to save the masses from themselves reveals, yet again, why conservatives are offended at the growing liberalism that not only thrives in academia, but is institutionalized (to borrow the liberal staple of unaccountability) among faculty from coast to coast.

As a graduate of Macalester (2000), it remains laughable that a member of the faculty would address the horrors of conservative doctrines entering the academic setting of our poor, helpless children, who undoubtedly need the intervention of someone in their lives to protect them (in this case, as most cases, from themselves).

Mass mobilization threatens the sanctity of science? What incredible elitism! Voters, the very people so often looked down upon and ultimately feared by the liberal elite, voted in more conservative governors, congressional representatives, and a president in the past five years. And the idea of those elected representatives actually representing their constituents offends Professor Kim. Fear not, however. When all else fails the 9th Circuit Court will be delighted to appease-and legislate-from their perch on high.

This issue, as raised by Professor Kim, has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with politics, WASP shame, and the idea that a bastion of liberal wisdom (academia) feels “threatened” by a populace which chooses, despite all efforts to the contrary, to still believe in a deity greater than a left-leaning professor and a career government bureaucrat. The humor is irresistible-such a nuanced group of The Educated (a fetus is a glob of cells until it fully exits a womb) cannot comprehend the idea that God and science coexist. What’s more, the source of liberal fear and conservative peace are the same-the inexplicable. Conservatives embrace it; liberals cannot own it.

Professor Kim fears the masses deciding how they want to raise their children, live their lives, and instill the morals that are important to them-be they Muslim, Jewish, Christian, conservative, liberal, black, white, or purple. Treating conservatism as a bad case of syphilis-to be avoided at all costs, yet not quite capable of being eradicated-drips of irony at the close-minded criticism of the very group Professor Kim chooses to fear.

Justin Haskin ’00

Learn how to take a joke

To the Editor:

Come on. Everyone who read “David Jonas insults your major”-everyone-knew it was a joke. Let me repeat that. It’s a joke. It’s a bloody joke! This is all part of a larger disease of people at Macalester not being able to take a joke. Just like an off-color joke, Jonas’s rather witty look at the spectrum of Macalester majors played on our prejudices, stereotypes and preconceptions, and it was funny.

So to Jonathan Strong, who wrote a letter in the last issue condemning part of it, I say: lighten up. You knew it was a joke. In a world where bad news is commonplace, it is imperative to maintain a sense of humor. At Macalester, it may be okay-even fashionable-to denounce anything the least bit racy or prejudicial. In the real world, however, humor is a necessary component of human interaction.

So, Macalester, lighten up and learn how to take a joke.

Ari Ofsevit ’06