Letters to the Editors

Why one student will vote Liberal

Dear Editors,

I’m nervous. I’m nervous about where our country is heading and I’m nervous that fewer and fewer people want to acknowledge the importance of the decisions that we have to make.

Let me start by airing my personal bias. I am a Liberal, I always have been. But I also meet that presently popular title of “disaffected Liberal.” I am personally insulted that members of the party that I dedicated so much of my time to stole money. I am personally disgusted that some members of the leadership of the party that I sacrificed for knew that this was happening. And I am personally hurt that because of the deplorable actions of a few members of the party that I believe in, honest people will be painted with the same brush when they knock on doors in the eminent election.

I agree with the critics who say that the Liberal Party needs to spend some time in opposition. However, I do not think that time is now.

The reason for my concern has nothing to do with my personal disagreement with Stephen Harper or the Conservative Party’s policies. That is another debate all together.

If I believed that this next election was only going to be about short-term governing issues, I might sit on the sidelines and watch. But I don’t. I think that this election is much bigger and more important.

Looking at what we know about the present political landscape, the Conservative Party is not going to win any seats in Quebec—their national campaign chair even admitted as much, and a newly elected young leader of the Parti Quebecois is likely going to be Premier of Quebec shortly and hold a referendum within the next few years.

This means that if the Conservatives were to win the next election, they would be leading the federalist forces in a referendum without any seats in the province that they are (presumably) trying to convince to remain a part of the federation. Alternatively, should the Quebec Liberal party win the provincial election, Premier Charest has stated that they will be seeking another round of constitutional negotiations. Once again, if a Conservative government were to be the federal representatives, they would be so without any elected representation from Quebec. What makes me nervous, beyond the scenarios just outlined, is that fewer and fewer people are participating in intelligent debate regarding these important decisions that we have to make. The political rhetoric has been lowered to whether one party has the “moral authority” to govern, and if the other party has a “hidden agenda.” Both of these political tag-lines turn attention away from the much bigger, and in my opinion, more important debate that needs to take place—who is going to lead the country through the next constitutional crisis.

With only one political party having the ability to win seats in every province, and major issues of national unity that I believe will need to be faced by the next Government, I will be putting aside my disaffection and participating in what I believe is an election of much greater importance than most want to acknowledge.

My hope is that with a Conservative loss, they will be able to re-establish themselves as a truly national party and take office so that the Liberal Party can do the same. The Liberal Party does need to spend time in opposition, just not yet.

Byron Allin
ArtSci ’06

Simple solutions to SGPS’s concerns

Dear Editors,

RE: “SGPS opposes Code of Conduct enforcement off campus” (Journal, Nov. 25, 2005).

I am very tired of this prolonged debate over student discipline, particularly from the SGPS.

The arguments opposing self-disciplinary measures point to problems that can be quickly addressed. That is, we don’t think we should monitor student behaviour in Montreal, and we’re worried that the police will stop policing us (yeah, right). Allow me to make some simplifying suggestions:

1) The SGPS should accept the Code of Conduct motion made by the University and toughen up on the behaviour of its constituents. This gesture will be appreciated by many of our critics, and as older, graduate students, behaving respectably shouldn’t be very hard for us.

2) Begin by defining the Code’s jurisdiction “off-campus” as the greater Kingston area. Highlight the relevant lines on a map. This will be sufficient for any immediately foreseeable issues.

3) Explain to the police that we don’t want special treatment. Make it clear: students are to be treated like ordinary citizens under the law.

Now we can review our policies and decide what charges and penalties we should apply internally. Just do it already.

Alex Davis
MSc ’06

International students far from ‘cash cows’

Dear Editors,

RE: “Students should engage with University’s Future” (Journal, Nov. 25, 2005).

Aaron Lemkow’s critique of Hitchcock’s vision for “engaging the world” touches on some good points about the issues that involve deregulation, but fails miserably in presenting issues concerning international students.

I am from Peru. I am an international student. I do not believe that I am a cash cow, and there isn’t anybody milking me every morning. The University accepted my application because I am an academically qualified student, and I have proven that over my four years here. I do not believe that Queen’s accepts students because of their financial support towards the university.

I must apologize in advance, but as you can see I am mortified at Mr. Lemkow’s comment that I was accepted at Queen’s compared to a Peruvian-Canadian from Toronto because I was able to pay more. I am qualified and that’s why I am here.

I also truly believe I help diversify Queen’s. Every person I interact with on a day-to-day basis knows that I am Peruvian. I explain my culture, I show my culture, and I live my culture. But I came here to also learn about new cultures. I have learned much about the Canadian way of life, and about the different cultures of my friends. By doing this I am not denouncing my culture, I am engaging the world. So I want to say please do not generalize international students, because we are as unique and as qualified as any other group at Queen’s.

Finally to respond about the “sky-high” tuition for international students, yes, this high cost may prohibit not just people with a low income in several countries but also to those with a higher income. Most international students I meet at Queen’s (myself included) are receiving financial aid and working to be able to study here. Just because we have found a way to study abroad doesn’t give Mr. Lemkow a right to depict us as Westernized foreign students. We are ambassadors and representatives of our own cultures and values.

Renzo Parodi
Sci ’06

AMS policy of religious affiliation inconsistent

Dear Editors,

RE: “Christmas charity causes controversy” and “Christmas Child has no place in residence” (Journal, Nov. 25, 2005).

I was rather taken aback by these two articles regarding the decision of the AMS to stop promotion of the Operation Christmas Child charity this November. I understand that a public institution such as Queen’s and [the student government], the AMS, have the right to choose to refrain from promoting an activity that is affiliated with a specific religious message.

However, I attended the Engineering Society’s annual Christmas Carol service, at which I saw the president of the AMS read a passage from the Bible. This confused me. If the AMS went through such trouble to stop Operation Christmas Child from happening because of its religious affiliation, I should think that the president of the organization that made this decision would not be reading a passage about the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-7), inarguably a religious message.

Operation Christmas Child is a program designed to bring happiness and hope to underprivileged children around the world. I think Ethan Rabidoux should keep his organization consistent. It appears as though the AMS supports a religious affiliation when it involves Queen’s and good PR, but when it involves hope-starved children in impoverished countries, I guess they don’t care.

Lindsey Wierdsma
ArtSci ’06

Dawn House Women’s Shelter thanks students for support

Dear Editors,

The Board of Directors of Dawn House Women’s Shelter would like to thank the AMS Campaign Staff and all the undergraduate students who helped us keep our shelter on the opt-outable student fees list for the next three years. We were very pleased to hear that we received 89 per cent of the vote. Queen’s student support, both financial and through volunteering, continues to make an important contribution to the running of our shelter.

Linda Frid
Fundraising Committee,
Dawn House Women’s Shelter

Operation Christmas Child does good deeds

Dear Editors,

RE: “Christmas Child has no place in residence” (Journal, Nov. 25, 2005).

In the aptly titled editorial “Christmas Child has no place in residence” it is argued that Queen’s residences should not take part in this Christmas charity because the organization administering it is a Christian organization.

What I would like to ask is: what is the harm? Here is an organization that is trying to do some good in the world, and we would not support them because of our overblown sense of political correctness and fear that the organization might offend some. Yes, they subscribe to a certain religious doctrine, but they do good deeds. So how can there be anything offensive about this charity?

If you look at the charity’s website you will see pictures of absolutely ecstatic children holding these gifts sent by the organization. The website states “A shoe box filled with small toys, school supplies, other gifts and a small note can introduce a hurting child to God’s love.” It also states “We impact the lives of vulnerable children through education, feeding, clothing and shelter programs that let them know they are not forgotten.” This sounds like a great cause, and again I see no harm, but because this has a religious element we should dismiss the beneficiaries of the charity? The fact is, now some impoverished kid is not going to get a shoebox filled with gifts—which may mean the world to him or her—because of a farcical outburst of self-righteous indignation.

The editorial suggests local churches should support this organization, not the residences. In essence, the suggestion is to pass off this duty to someone else. Why can’t both groups support the organization? I read this statement as saying “do not send toys to Africa, let someone else do it.” I am aware we must pick and choose which charities to support, and in this day and age there is too much trouble in the world, and our charities can only solve so much. However, when dismissing a charity I want to hear a better explanation than, “it has religious elements.”

Recently there was a lot of effort to raise aid to assist Pakistani earthquake victims and much of the effort was performed by Muslim organizations. I ask, should the fact that some of these organizations have religious affiliations affect our generosity?

I would say concern yourself less with your short-sighted secularism and focus on what you are really proposing: that Queen’s residences should not send toys to children in Africa. Fundamentally the question is about whether you want to help children.

Matthew Dylag
Law ’08

Inclusivity includes respect for religion

Dear Editors,

RE: “Christmas charity causes controversy” (Journal, Nov 25, 2005).

In your article about “controversial” Operation Christmas Child, it was stated that student residences should be a place of inclusivity, and indeed they should be. Here we often make a disturbing mistake.

Inclusivity does not mean ignoring differences of religion or personal conviction. In what area of life has pushing people towards homogeneity helped to include individuals of a different group? We include others by respecting their differences, not by depreciating them. We are not being inclusive of religious people by trying to make most aspects of student life non-religious. The “solution” currently being proposed by the AMS to solve this “controversy” is to withdraw support from Operation Christmas Child. Please tell me why a gift for a poor child, given to a charity motivated by religious convictions, is less suitable than a gift given to charity motivated by non-religious convictions.

I support a different solution for the inclusivity of all students: allow our differences. Operation Christmas Child should be fully endorsed by residence and the AMS, along with the charitable causes of other religious and non-religious groups that wish to be represented across campus. Students should be educated about the merits of each cause, while respecting differences in an inclusive manner. Finally, one more point: it was suggested that anyone interested in giving to a religious organization, should do so through their church. In other words, keep religious expression in the church and out of our university community. Would we say the same about education? Keep education where it belongs, only in the university? Spirituality and religion, like education, is an intrinsic part of the human experience, and should not be regarded as untouchable.

Nathan Duyck
Nurs ’07

Proud supporter of Liberal Party

Dear Editors,

Has the Liberal party made mistakes? Yes. Everyone makes mistakes, and every government makes mistakes. However, I will vote for a government that tries to follow the policies that I believe in, even if they do so imperfectly, before I vote for a party that perfectly executes policies that I don’t believe in.

That is why I will vote Liberal, and that is why, despite the sponsorship scandal and other fiascos, current polls show the Liberals leading. They are the party that truly stands for Canada. The Conservatives are too right, the NDP are too left, the Bloc is essentially a protest vote and the Green party is still too young to garner mass appeal.

The Liberals have balanced the books of Canada, something that I strive to do with my own finances. They have advanced peace over war by eschewing the Iraq war [in favour of] peacekeeping, matching my philosophy in life.

The Liberal health accords last year seek to improve health care, reaffirming my belief that good health is of the utmost importance in life.

They legalized same-sex marriage, in agreement with my belief that individuals should have right to live their life as they choose. As long as they continue to do what I believe in, I will forgive them their mistakes.

I am proud to support the current Liberal Party of Canada, and I will be even prouder to vote for them in the coming election.

Chris Dragert
ArtSci ’06

ASUS losses taken out of context

Dear Editors,

RE: “ASUS budget reports $26,403 loss” (Journal, Nov. 25, 2005).

With regard to your issue of Friday, Nov. 25 and the article pertaining to ASUS, there are some important points I wish to clarify.

Most importantly, the article was right in pointing out that—ultimately—I was responsible for the financial operations of the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) in 2004-2005. This is a constituent element of the position of Vice-President and something I undertook with the utmost seriousness, care and honesty. I accept full responsibility for the financial performance of ASUS in 2004-2005 and I hold much pride in my time spent there. I stated this at the presentation of my final budget at ASUS Assembly earlier this year.

The mistakes that were made last year at ASUS were not the direct result of my actions. This statement is not an attempt to deflect criticism, but rather to place it in context—something your article failed to do. A recurrent problem last year was that individuals other than myself left deposits in the ASUS Core and elsewhere without my knowledge, and against my stated policy of placing deposits solely with me (as I am the one ultimately responsible). When confronted with this series of mistakes, I took action by searching out those responsible and insisting the mistakes be corrected.

As for ASUS Formal, its loss was the result of poor attendance. Along with the ASUS President, I ensured that every expenditure was accounted for and that their budget was followed exactly. A number of factors contributed to the lack of attendance, but measures have been put in place to ensure better planning in future years.

My most serious point of contention is the way in which you have characterized the work of ASUS. Countless hours are spent by students—not only from Arts and Science—in the cause of community service in so many creative and positive ways; theirs is truly a labour of love. Their contribution to the Arts and Science, Queen’s and Kingston communities is the most significant and newsworthy story on campus. Your headline-seeking pseudo-journalism constitutes a poor attempt to negatively characterize this contribution for transparent, self-serving purposes. Students make enormous commitments to their community and take much time out of their studies to do so. Not to acknowledge this—and to so critically attack mistakes people make—seriously misleads students as to the value of student government.

The cause of involvement and volunteering through student government is the most important message that I wish to convey through this letter, and it is something which I believe is lost on the Journal. This involvement is an intangible part of the broader learning environment and I encourage all to seek out these experiences and to contribute positively to those in your community.

Ian Anderson
ASUS Vice-President 2004-2005

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