By Tritons for Israel
It is with a heavy heart that I begin this piece for publication. Recently Students for Justice in Palestine authored a resolution asking the Associated Student body to call upon the UC Regents to divest the investments of the pension and retirement funds from two American companies because they did business with the Israeli Defense Forces.
We heard at a special presentation how this year’s divestment resolution was “a brand-new resolution” and had nothing to do with last year’s resolution, when in truth 11 of the clauses are exact quotes from last year’s divestment resolution. We were told that this was not meant to target the State of Israel, but rather it was focused on the region as a whole.
Sadly this too was not true, as the State of Israel was the only sovereign country to be mentioned in the resolution, and it was “mentioned” over 17 times. We even heard about how the resolution was meant to foster dialogue, when the only dialogue created around the event was done so by the A.S. President-elect, and not by the proponents of the resolution.
Despite the blatant attack on the State of Israel, and consequently the Israel, and pro-Israel communities at UCSD, Tritons for Israel extended a hand in peace to the leadership of Students for Justice in Palestine in the hopes that some sort of dialogue and compromise could be reached. Two representatives from Tritons for Israel worked tirelessly, despite the Jewish holiday of Passover, to reach a middle ground and bridge the gap between our two respective communities.
On the brink of a historic opportunity, Students for Justice in Palestine retreated to their original talking points, and even failed to recognize the need for cultural cooperation, or the necessity for ensuring the security of both Palestinians and Israelis.
That, however, has become a
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moot point. The question we must ask ourselves is, where do we go from here?
We may never come to an agreement about divestment, but should we allow that to prevent a greater dialogue from happening?
Call me an idealist, but I firmly believe that the things which divide us pale in comparison to those which can unite us. If a compromise cannot be reached surrounding divestment, I feel we should respect each other’s positions, agree to disagree, and search for the common ground we all share.
Has there not been enough suffering on both sides? Now is the time to end this fighting, both on campus at UCSD and in our respective homelands.
Tritons for Israel has always and will continue to stand for peace, dialogue, and justice. Divestment is not the way to a durable peace. Only by speaking to one another can we achieve a true understanding, and build the bridges necessary for a sustainable coexistence. Tritons for Israel hopes that we will someday have a willing partner in the struggle to achieve a sustainable end to the conflict, both in the Middle East and here on our campus.
After interviewing all of the A.S. presidential candidates, the Guardian editorial board awards its endorsement to Unity candidate Jeff Dodge, based on his extensive experience and practical ideas.
Dodge, the current vice president internal, has served on the A.S. Council since his freshman year. While A.S. experience does not automatically qualify a candidate to become president, Dodge has distinguished himself as a councilmember that gets involved and gets things done.
His experience on council is wide-ranging. He has served as a senator for two years and an executive member for one year. When he was a sophomore senator, the senate elected him as its chair.
Dodge has sat on both the A.S. internal and finance committees, the Chancellor's Budget Committee, the University Centers Advisory Board and the Student Initiated Outreach and Retention Committee.
Dodge said that if he is elected, he would do his best to promote a nimble and effective executive cabinet, which consists of the president and three vice presidents.
He stressed that it is absolutely necessary that the executive cabinet set the pace of the entire A.S. Council, and for that reason, he sees it as crucial that the executive cabinet be able to work together despite any personal or ideological differences.
He said the key to keeping unity in a cabinet that could consist of more than one slate is to identify and work toward common goals.
Dodge noted that the A.S. Council under last year's President Tesh Khullar was very effective in this respect. It was a divided council, but since it was so determined to fight for compromise, it was able to get things done, Dodge said.
One of Dodge's main selling points is his strong advocacy for increasing support for student organizations.
He proposes more than the typical increase in funding for student organizations championed by virtually every candidate who wishes to have the slightest chance of victory. Dodge emphasizes the need for a physical presence in student organizations to help better understand their needs and to offer the assistance of the A.S. Council whenever it is needed.
Dodge maintains that it is not enough for A.S. Council members to help fund a student organization's event, with the council's only presence being a little icon in the bottom corner of some flyers. He would insist that members of the council physically show up to the events that they sponsor, noting that it would contribute to the event's success as well as project a positive and pro-active image of the A.S. Council.
Of course, Dodge also publicly supports expansion and increased funding for student organizations.
His goals are to help facilitate the expansion of the Cross Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center, and the Women's Center. He also wishes to create a commuter and transfer student center.
Obviously, doing these things will cost money. Well, Dodge even has an idea of where he'll get it.
According to Dodge, tens of thousands of dollars go unused by clubs and student organizations every year. This money comes back to the A.S. Council at the beginning of the next year and goes into a large unallocated monies fund that is not included in the annual budget. Dodge said that he is in favor of using all of that money to increase funding of student organizations.
On the issue of increasing racial and cultural diversity at UCSD, Dodge has a plan that takes into account the fact that he will not be able to do everything himself. For this reason, he says he would create a commissioner of cultural affairs position with the specific purpose of promoting cultural diversity on campus.
At a school known for its academics more than anything else, Dodge has some ideas to help students to learn more and to have more flexibility.
Specifically, Dodge is advocating a 24-hour library during finals week. He also said that he strongly supports the efforts of O.A.S.I.S. and the Academic Success Program.
Candidates who are new to the A.S. Council often make the point that spending too much time on the council can lead a person to become too much of a politician.
While Dodge has been on council since fifth week of his freshman year and has always run with a slate, we have seen firsthand that he is not bound by slate loyalties.
As Vice President Internal, he has run council meetings in a fair and unbiased manner. Last year, when two members of his former slate, Students First, were caught in a scandal, he was not afraid to publically criticize them.
Finally, when asked during an interview which A.S. president was most effective in the past three years, he named Joe Leventhal, a president who was often at odds with members of the slate Dodge was on at the time. He gave less credit to current president Doc Khaleghi, with whom Dodge ran on a slate last year.
In terms of experience, Dodge has the obvious upperhand. He has participated in such a broad spectrum of UCSD activities that he knows this campus and its students as well as anyone. He also knows the A.S. Council. He is easily the most veteran member of the council running for a position.
His platform is well-polished and it shows maturity, experience and forthought. With so much experience and such a solid and realistic platform, the Guardian cannot help but throw its weight behind Jeff Dodge for A.S. Council president.
One candidate Ali Yazdi is well-qualified for the office of president, but falls short of being as qualified as his opponent, Jeff Dodge. Yazdi, who unsuccessfully ran for president last year, has sat on the A.S. Council for two years, most recently as Revelle senior senator.
Yazdi's ideas are unique and we agree with most of them.
For example, Yazdi has proposed eliminating Club Ritmo and WinterFest in order to have a better FallFest and Sun God Festival, and to possibly bring back the MTV Campus Invasion, which would bring another big name to campus. While we don't necessarily agree with the elimination of Club Ritmo, we agree that the $40,000 WinterFest should be eliminated so that we have more money to spend on the other two festivals. Programming at UCSD needs a lot of help, and we believe that next year's council needs to do something significant, possibly drastic, to improve the situation.
Yazdi also proposes saving money by eliminating A.S. executive budgets, which provide council executives with extra money for miscellaneous business-related expenses. We applaud Yazdi for making such a proposal and we hope that if he is elected, he sticks to that plan, putting the good of the students in front of his own.
Yazdi has a plan to link Triton Taxi to other local colleges and universities. While we feel that such a plan is impractical, we support a general expansion of Triton Taxi concurring with Yadzi's intentions.
The Guardian also has mixed thoughts on Yazdi's campus safety plan. While we support more call boxes on campus and security in parking lots, we find his plan to implement weekend shuttle service a waste of money.
One idea that Yazdi and many of his slate members proposed was making the A.S. Council autonomous. While the Guardian will not yet take a position on such an issue, we believe it at least deserves to be looked into. Yazdi realizes that this is not something he can do in one year, but if elected, he promises to get the ball rolling by studying such a proposal.
Yazdi said in his interview that rather than taking on the popular issues of parking and housing, he is focusing on more realistic issues such as campus safety and programming. Yet in his candidate statement he promised increased student parking and solutions to housing problems. We question this anomoly, and hope that it is not an accurate representation of what otherwise seems to be an honest person.
Yazdi has the ideas and the experience to effectively represent students, but in the end, we believe that Dodge will do a better job. If Yazdi is elected, however, and holds true to many of his promises, he will make a positive mark on this campus.
Muir junior Noah Levin markets himself as a visible member of the campus community and one who has met over 1,000 UCSD students. He says he loves UCSD and wants to make the campus a university that students can be proud of.
Levin has experience on Muir College Council and identifies two big problems at UCSD as being programming and parking.
Levin believes that the lack of UCSD pride could be solved by stronger programming. He proposes that there should be at least one social event per weekend, and a spirit night once per quarter. He plans on funding these events by working with sports teams and student organizations, co-sponsoring the events with them.
To alleviate parking problems, Levin said he will look into a student-funded shuttle program to take them from local apartment complexes to campus.
The program would be similar to the Hillcrest Medical Center shuttle program and would be cheaper and more convenient than parking on campus. While we doubt that such a program is practical, Levin said he would be open to any suggestion that others might have.
We believe that Levin is on the right track in terms of identifying student problems. We think that he would do a good job improving our school spirit, but his scope is too narrow and his experience does not match up to that of Jeff Dodge or Ali Yazdi.
Jennifer Christine Villanueva Ganata has good intentions but lacks the knowledge and experience to be an effective president.
As a member of several Student Affirmative Action Coalition organizations, one of Ganata's main goals would be to increase diversity on campus and on the A.S. Council. While this is a concept supported by the Guardian, as well as by many students, Ganata does not have a specific plan to accomplish this goal.
Ganata worked with the A.S. Council in last year's voter registration drive. She also worked with the United States Student Association and the Student Initiated Outreach and Retention Committee.
Ganata believes that A.S. Council members should be more active on campus and should not see themselves as being above anyone. She wants to make sure that nonwhite male and non-Greek students are represented, rather than marginalized, on this campus.
If elected president, Ganata said she would like to increase funding for student organizations. Yet when asked where she would find the additional funds, she said she would look to the chancellor's and student affairs departments' budgets. While it would be nice to have such a source for additional student funds, student organization money can come only from student activity fees, not from taxpayers or education fees.
An A.S. Council president needs to have a better knowledge of how the council works. For this reason, we do not endorse Ganata.
John Bwarie is a highly energetic and enthusiastic student but is limited to A.S. experience on the college level. While he may be a good motivational speaker, he has no new ideas and no goals to implement.
As president, Bwarie said he would listen to his fellow council members and motivate them to implement their own ideas. He says that people currently view the office of president as something that it is not.
We believe that the presidency is an office that should be filled by a strong and knowledgeable leader. While any A.S. president needs to be open to new ideas and willing to work with fellow councilmembers, he must also have ideas, goals and plans of his own.
Bwarie, an individual studies major in his third year, currently coordinates Preuss School admissions and outreach. He designs and reviews applications, speaks at local schools and recruits UCSD students to serve as volunteers and tutors at the Preuss School. Bwarie has also served as an apprentice eighth-grade teacher in Mira Mesa.
While his resume is impressive, we do not believe that it qualifies him to be A.S. president.
The United States is sending troops to the Philippines for war games, where they will apparently practice on live targets: the Abu Sayyaf, which is a Muslim group claiming to fight for an independent Muslim state on the island of Basilan in the southern Philippines.
Abu Sayyaf has been named a terrorist threat by the current president of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The United States will deploy about 650 troops to ""practice"" army tactics against the Muslim militants, who have demonstrated their loathing for human life most recently by kidnapping about 70 people since May.
American tourist Guillermo Sobero was among those allegedly beheaded by Abu Sayyaf in the past months. Two American Christians and a Filipino nurse are still being held on Basilan. Recently released hostages are reported to have seen the couple and described them as ""not just skinny, but bony.""
This is not a matter of terrorism, but of humanity.
However gruesome the past has been, the future is sure to reveal several more doses of reality. American troops are the best in the world, and to help control the inhumane acts performed by the Abu Sayyaf, it is sensible for the Philippines to ask for help from the strongest.
The history of the Abu Sayyaf includes the decapitation of several of its hostages and the kidnapping of children, a grandmother and many foreigners. A raid on a Christian village in 1995 killed 53 inhabitants and soldiers. Extortion, piracy, robbery and ransom kidnappings provide money for the band, but it is believed that support also comes from Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.
However, if one knows the history of American troops in the Philippines, there is no denying the complications between the two nations. The mid-1980s brought the ""peaceful"" overthrow of President Ferdinand Marcos, and Arroyo now faces possible impeachment for cooperating with the United States in its efforts to fight terrorist activity on the islands.
According to the constitution of the Philippines, foreign troops are prohibited from participating in combat missions on Philippine soil. U.S. troops left in 1992 after Mount Pinatubo erupted and destroyed an American base. The Philippine Senate refused to renew the lease for a second base. Many Filipinos would be happy if the U.S. presence never returned. However, that would be an inconsistent move in American policy.
When militants first took American hostages, the United States refused to pay a ransom, and that is the source of conflict. It is not always possible to pay each group of terrorists for the safety of citizens, but when the group is then linked to Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces, the story changes. It is noble for troops to help a struggling country when their president requests it, and we do not seem to be helping out of outright greed, but one has to wonder.
President George W. Bush seems to know exactly what is prohibited in the restrictive constitution, and he agrees to stay out of combat, per se. Nevertheless, the troops will assist in training the Philippine forces and will accompany the forces on patrol through rebel territory. They will be armed and prepared for any defense. This situation makes it easy to blame the rebels for starting any attack.
Questioning the morality of the United States is not a new thing for people of all nationalities to do. Even Americans do it. Even so, one cannot help thinking of all those brutally killed by these freedom fighters called the ""Bearers of the Sword,"" and this recent step to halt such cruelties should be commended.
As questionable as the tactics of our troops may appear, Abu Sayyaf cannot go unpunished for the atrocities it has committed against innocent people.
California voters soundly rejected five of six ballot measures in the state's special election Tuesday, barring the Legislature from relocating funds as a short-term fix to the current budget crisis.
The only measure that passed 'mdash; by an overwhelming 74 percent of voters 'mdash; was Proposition 1F, which will freeze salaries of state lawmakers during deficit years. Because California will be $21.3 billion in the red beginning July 1, this will include 2009-10.
'The message was loud and clear,' Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement. 'An overwhelming majority of people told Sacramento, 'Go and do your work yourself. Don't come to us with your problems.''
Propositions 1A-1E, which were rejected by more than 60 percent of voters, sought to reach mandatory funding goals by redirecting roughly $5.9 billion toward the state's general-revenue funds.
Proposition 1A would have established state spending caps and prolonged recent tax increases, while Proposition 1B attempted to cushion future cuts to education by requiring the state to pay $9.3 billion toward California K-12 schools and community colleges. Propositions 1C-1E would have borrowed money from California lottery profits, California Children and Families Commission reserves and mental-health program funds, respectively.
Because of the failure of Propositions 1A and 1B, California's public colleges and universities will be subject to additional cuts in state support of up to 10 percent. The University of California will be hit with a $765 million slash to top off the $115 million cut to the system that was announced three months ago.
'Such severe budget reduction, following years of chronic underfunding, would force the university to weigh a number of stark choices,' UC President Mark G. Yudof said in a statement. 'At this point, all options must be placed on the table for consideration at some point in the future.'
According to Yudof, these options include slicing enrollment, academic programs and student services while boosting student fees and class sizes, in addition to pay reductions or furloughs for university employees. The failure of the ballot measures will also trim state support for student aid.
Jack Pitney, a political-science professor at Claremont McKenna College, said state lawmakers will have little choice but take funds from politically sacred avenues such as education, since the public seems to want more than they're willing to pay for.
'For a lot of people, the budget's been an abstraction,' Pitney said. 'But with the next round, there will probably be serious consequences, particularly in the schools. Democrats have taken heat for accepting spending cuts. Certain Republicans have taken heat for accepting tax increases, and the heat's only going to get more intense this summer.'
After election results were announced Tuesday evening, Schwarzenegger flew to Washington, D.C., the next morning to request federal stimulus money for the state.
In a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Schwarzenegger was informed that California remains eligible to receive another $8 billion in stimulus money for its Medicaid program.
'The rest of it we have to do ourselves in California,' Schwarzenegger said. 'We've made it clear that we're not asking for a bailout. We're not asking for any money we don't deserve under the economic stimulus package.'
The governor began closed-door meetings with state leaders yesterday. Today, Senate and Assembly members will hold the first of many daily public sessions planned to work out budget details.
Last week, Schwarzenegger announced plans to lay off 5,000 of the state's 235,000 workers, slash education funding by up to $5 billion, sell state properties, borrow $2 billion from local governments and reduce eligi
bility for health-care programs.
Schwarzenegger also proposed the state release and deport 19,000 illegal immigrants from prisons, as well as transfer nearly 23,000 other prisoners to county jails.
Readers can contact Kimberly Cheng at [email protected]