Opinion

Fanmail Makes For An Interesting Read

At first I thought it was a joke. I mean, who really has the time to write a two-page, single-spaced letter when she could be shaving her armpits instead? This thought plagued my mind as I read over the fascinating, if not unintelligible, letter from an anonymous “”fan.”” Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m ungrateful to my loyal readers. I just wish “”fan”” mail would really mean “”fan”” mail, instead of a diatribe against the current American political infrastructure. When my editor first called me to tell me I had a package to pick up, I dropped everything and ran to my car. As I sped toward UCSD, images of adoring letters from gorgeous, intelligent, single men danced in my head. I could picture it in my head: “”Dear Divya,”” it would begin, “”your prose is sweet music to my unworthy ears. Please be mine now and forever,”” or, “”Dear Divya: Enclosed is a first-class ticket for a flight on Air France. Meet me on the top of the Eiffel Towel. Love, Pierre (a.k.a. handsome and wealthy exchange student).”” As I walked into the office, my heart throbbing and my head ringing, I was filled with gleeful anticipation. However, my joy quickly turned into confusion after I opened a thick manila envelope and found, to my chagrin, documents on science and abortion instead of flowery poetry. I couldn’t believe it. Here was my first fan mail and it was a disappointment! I realized the “”fan”” letter may not actually have been from an admirer at all when I saw the line “”Your writing could have been seen as humorous with a little more work/polish on it.”” Call me hairy and an idiot, but not funny? That’s a direct stab to my heart. Worse, instead of commenting on my article, the author encouraged me to watch “”CSPAN for a year or two”” in order to “”become an expert on the real issues.”” Sorry, dear reader, but I don’t have cable, so that’s an impossibility. Besides, aren’t pointless articles more enjoyable than suffering through boring congressional speeches? At least the author, who is obviously an intelligent person, had good intentions. After a lengthy discussion on everything from Napoleon to abortion, the author finally got to the good part: me. I am sure he or she was being considerate when stating, “”Keep some of your paranoia.”” it will protect you from something worse “”trying to become a syrupy goody two-shoes,”” but it sounded like something Ted Kaczynski would say. Anyway, I’m sure my parents would be horrified if I got drunk in TJ, so I think I have to stay on the straight path, however boring it may be. (Besides, they pay for my hair removal.) Perhaps my favorite line was, “”You are insecure because you need seasoning like a good soup.”” Of course I’m insecure. If you were a hairy, dramatic 18-year-old girl who had never kissed a boy and was failing your classes, I doubt you would be extremely chipper. Call me a brat, but when a reader informs you that “”the best way to become a logical person is not to study philosophy, religion or courses in logic,”” you might be a tad perplexed too. Additionally, when someone says “”Don’t buy any books (except a good dictionary, anatomy and physiology textbook and other good reference books),”” she is basically stating that great works of literature are meaningless. I’m sure the literature and history departments would have a field day over that quote. Frankly, I can’t remember anything particularly meaningful or life-changing occurring when I opened up “”Webster’s Dictionary”” to look up the word “”pernicious”” (no offense to dictionary lovers). The point is that the one time I hoped to get an adoring “”fan”” letter, I got an interesting but not exactly understandable letter instead. Throwing in “”Ophra … is a beautiful although fat woman”” didn’t exactly make anything clearer. Anyway, whoever you are, I forgive you this indiscretion. However, the next time you have this much time on your hands, I suggest a good waxing experience instead. ...

Revelle Administration's Actions Backfire

Would you believe me if I told you that Revelle administrators think a 13-inch television is a bigger fire hazard than a wood table, wood desk, wood sofa, wood bed, wood shelves, wood doors, wood closets and wood chairs? Well, they do. As ridiculous as this may sound, Revelle college forbids televisions to be left in students’ suites, citing them as fire hazards. This inane rule states that a television may only be in the shared suite area if it is being watched and that the moment it is turned off, it must be unplugged and placed inside one of the rooms. If the owner fails to do so, he is written up. Although we all just love repeating the tedious process of setting up the television and unplugging it shortly thereafter (a very therapeutic way to spend a study break, of course), it is hardly worth the effort just to watch a single television show. The idea itself is just plain ridiculous. What is so flammable about a 13-inch television? Think about it: The television is made out of plastic, but virtually everything else in the suite is made out of wood or flammable cloth. I am far more worried about the wooden table bursting into flames than the television that sits on top of it. Furthermore, how can a television possibly be a bigger fire hazard than the microwaves many of us have in our rooms? To my knowledge, more fires have been started by unattended microwaves than by unattended televisions. How can Revelle possibly justify its claim? None of the other colleges have this absurd rule. I called the provost’s office to find out, and was told that someone would call back with information. Unfortunately, no one returned my call, so one can only speculate about the rationale being applied here. The fact that televisions are electric will not fly; we have electric lights bolted to the walls. Worried about water dripping on it? No, I think that an electrical outlet placed within a foot of the bathroom sinks is a bit more dangerous. Worried about tripping on the power cord? Come on, if you panic during a fire, you’re more likely to get your foot stuck in the wastebasket than trip over that. Spontaneous combustion? A television is about as likely to spontaneously combust as a bowl of corn flakes. Then what can it be? The lack of a sprinkler system? If the school thinks these buildings would be seriously endangered in the case of a fire, we should not be living in them. While we do not need to have a television in our suites to survive, it would definitely make life a bit easier. Besides, what is so wrong with leaving a small television in our suite? Yes, there is a risk of theft, but if that is a risk the owner is willing to take, then so be it. It is neither the school’s responsibility nor its jurisdiction to tell students where they can or cannot leave their televisions. Keep in mind that these are freshmen students living in the residence halls. Does the administration want us to feel like this is truly our home or like we are guests? A 13-inch television really is not that great a safety risk, and if no one is bothered by it, then why not allow us to leave it in our suites? ...

Students' Reputation as Nerds is Ill-Founded

It’s eighth week. Do you know where your parties are? Odds are you still don’t, because UCSD’s reputation as a nerd school has got you discouraged and disenchanted, so for Friday night excitement, you throw down a bottle of Jack D. in your dorm room and read the Guardian. This is where I come in. After a few years of close scrutiny, I have come to the conclusion that most UCSD students are not as academically driven as the Greekfreaks would have us think. Many, in fact, are just itching to ditch those TI-92s and bust loose a few differential equations on the geometric plane of the dance floor … or better yet, the topology of your naked body. It’s not lack of instinct that restrains us, it’s lack of information. The resident advisers, housing advisers and the PD go to great lengths to educate us about the risks of partying, of going to TJ, of unprotected sex at the annual Darkstar Halloween Orgy, and well they should. Such joyous activities cannot be enjoyed without serious hazards to one’s health. Rarely, however, does anyone chime in to give the skinny on how to have good, illicit, or explicit fun — and get away with it. Like I said before, this is where I come in. Without further ado, here’s my exhaustive guide to the art of partygoing. Going to a party is like going out into the field in ‘Nam, except without the napalm, screaming, burning children, and other quaint features of actual warfare. The similarity is this: When you go out, you have no idea what kind of heaven, hell, hot bodies or highway patrol sobriety checks you may face. Newsflash: You are no longer a little child, and if you are reading this you are no fool, so you cannot expect God’s angels to watch out for you. Gather information. You have to know where the party is before you and yours can attack. Ask around. Do not be subtle. Do not ever say, “”Hey, give me a ring next time.”” They will forget. Ask only about what is on for the next weekend. Ask that fly looking slacker who keeps sleeping through your bio lecture. That’s probably me, and baby, I’ll let you know. Create a plan of attack. Line up two or three parties in one night. Any one party might suck, get busted, or fail to occur. Create a pack. The best defense is a good offense — or something like that. Set out for the night with eight good friends in two cars, and if all else fails you can always hit Denny’s in style or go back to the dorms and play drunk Twister. Take care of each other. Watch each other’s backs, do head counts, provide cover fire — all that cool A-Team stuff. Be thoughtful as you construct your own little Saturday night commando group. Always bring cash. Even if you are female. Even if you are an incredibly attractive female. Get liberated, get some dollars and come prepared. Do not hassle the host about the cover charge. Pay your money or get out of line and go home. Your party hosts will almost certainly end the night with a noise citation and less play (i.e. random hook-ups, cuddling and other fun skin sports) than the average guest. More particularly, it’ll be the sober host that most likely ends up with no lovin’ except from the cops, so respect this fact and, if you must complain, bring your whining to the drunk hosts. Have realistic expectations. That rush week frat party next quarter is not going to be thronging with sonnet-reading, wine-sipping, rose-petal-munching gentlemen who just want to chat. That gorgeous woman in the sequins who’s dancing to your favorite song may not be in the mood for you to ask if you can munch on her rosebush. For a realistic idea of the general atmosphere of the average party, get a few friends to read the Muir Quarterly at the top of their lungs, and imagine that you are in the middle of a crowd of people who actually think the jokes are funny. Learn to party sober, then expand your horizons once you have mastered the art. Seriously, don’t jump for the jungle juice the first time you jam. The subtleties of partying under the influence merit their own article, which is forthcoming. Don’t throw a party for lack of finding one. Wait a week or two and I’ll break down for you the specialized skills it takes to host your own local commotion. Until then, try the simple techniques I’ve outlined, and you too may find that, despite the rep, this university can be a very happening place indeed. ...

Books are not Worth the Hype

I just finished a book, and I’ve been playing around with this idea in my head for a while: I like the universality of books. I think that’s one of their most redeeming features. They’ve got a few other benefits, too: They’re portable (you can pretty much bring them anywhere), and you can drop them in a swimming pool, and with a little bit of effort, still read them. I’ve tried. But at the same time, they’ve got a lot of downsides. First of all, they take a hell of a long time to finish. To give you an example, the book I just finished was 323 pages long, and I’ve been reading it on and off throughout the day. In fact, if I were to break my day down, that’s all I really did today, suffice rather routine things like having lunch. Somewhere in my earlier schooling they implanted the idea in my head that the novel was invented as a kind of book that was meant to be finished in an evening. This, I’ve come to discover, is complete crap — a fairy tale invented by one English teacher and passed down through generations and generations of lying English teachers. Imagine the time period surrounding the instance when the novel was created: People went to bed at 7 p.m. because it got dark. Conversations around that time were quite similar to this: “”Hey, Ebenezer, looks like the sun just set.”” “”I guess we’re screwed now. Off to bed we go.”” Considering they had tea at 3 p.m. and supper at 5 p.m., that leaves about two hours to constitute their “”evening.”” And anyone who finishes novels in less than two hours is either: a.) A speed reader. b.) Reading Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew joint mystery capers — a fine collection I might add. c.) A damned liar, much like English teachers who claim novels were meant to be finished in an evening. Another problem with books is the whole “”you should be reading them”” stigma attached to them. It’s almost the same as when you were younger and your parents said, “”It’s such a wonderful day outside, you should be out enjoying that instead of inside the house.”” The suggestion was much more than a veiled excuse for your parents to have sex. It’s a statement designed to make you feel bad about watching MTV, playing video games and not allowing your parents to have sex. The “”you should be reading them”” stigma rears its ugly head later in your life, unless you’re a nerd like my sister, and actually list reading books as what you would do if you were bored in a pseudo-intellectual-I-like-the-bookmarks-Amazon.com-gives-me-with-stupid-quotes-from-famous-dead-philosophers-about-books-that-simply-promote-buying-more-books-by-making-you-feel-good-about-buying-more-books sort of way, in the form of feeling bad because you’re going through life without really reading any books, or if you are reading books, you’re not reading the really good books, just the trashy ones. But I seem to have gotten off my main point, which was that I liked the universality of books. In other words, I could read a book in San Diego, and recommend it to my friend in Idaho (not that I would have any friends in Idaho), and he could go to his local Borders with a built-in cafe and purchase the same book. Perhaps this is saying something about the prevalence of Borders Books in the United States, or the universality of everything, such as CDs and movies. But it’s not the same with CDs or movies. Well, it sort of is, but it’s not. You could have a better stereo than your friend, or a bigger TV, and you’re not really experiencing the same thing he’s experiencing as you are with a book. True, you can buy a hardcover and he could buy a paperback, but they really are almost the same. The text doesn’t really change unless you get one of those large-print books, which I actually kind of like. I fight nearly blind people for them at the library. When I was in eighth grade, I got a copy of Naval Shute’s “”The Beach”” at the Glendale Public Library and the only remaining copy of it was in large print. It was like 1,400 pages long, and had some paraplegic spittle on it. At least, I always assumed it was paraplegic spittle. It never really occurred to me until now that it could have been ordinary person spittle, like librarian spittle, or local-resident-browsing-through-large-print-stacks spittle, but let’s face it: Who really browses through large-print stacks except paraplegics? Regardless, the spittle was on the front cover, and it was so old it was almost petrified. The whole time I was reading it I was careful to avoid touching the petrified spittle, so I suppose my experience of reading that book was a little different than, say, some guy in Utah reading a 150-page paperback. What I’m saying is that on the average, books have a built-in universality that is rather neat — “”neat”” being the only kind of word I could possibly use when I consider what a nerd I must sound like right now. I also like the fact that books are one of the few things I can do nowadays that I can talk to my dad about. I can’t say, “”So, Dad, what do you think of the new Radiohead album? Do you think the lack of guitars is a bold move, considering the success of their last album?”” But he can say to me, “”‘The Fountainhead,’ why are you reading that piece of garbage?”” My mother can say to me, “”Oh yeah, Ayn Rand. Your father can’t stand her,”” as if he went to college with Ayn Rand and she was really annoying. I find that most parents, not just mine, have the same view of “”The Fountainhead.”” They think it’s a flaming pile of tripe, and not the good tasting tripe. Some of them give it a little slack and say it’s a nice story, but most of the points made are crap, which is basically what my mother said about the Bible when I said I was going to a church retreat. One last thing I should note is that there’s truth in the saying “”only lend the books you never care to see again.”” To give you a brief example, I have Steve’s copy of “”Snowcrash,”” Dave has my copy of “”Mostly Harmless,”” but I have his copy of “”Swann’s Way,”” yet he has my copy of “”Cat’s Cradle,”” which has personal sentimental value for me because it was a Christmas present from Laura, whose copy of “”Bech”” I have. I remember once in high school I traded my father’s copy of “”1984″” for some guy named Tyler’s copy of some book that began with “”Perceptions by Huxley”” but I let Jeremy borrow it, and it’s been missing in action ever since. The fact that I let someone borrow a borrowed book is a perfect example of what to do with your books: Leave them on your shelf, and if someone asks about one of them, comment on the prevalence of Borders Books in the United States. ...

Political Activity Leaves Much to be Desired

Election year 2000 will undoubtedly go down in the history books as one of the most complicated and controversial elections in U.S. history. For many students here at UCSD, this unforgettable election year has been their very first, and quite possibly, the most memorable they will ever have. All of this considered, it is sad to say that for other students at UCSD, voting and knowing who leads their country is as unimportant and petty as their 8 a.m. classes. From what I have observed before and after the days of the Tuesday vote, political awareness and spirit here on campus are lacking in every possible way. While there are those who present a strong passion and interest in the elections and the candidates, there is also a majority who view them to be a waste of their time, and are completely ignorant when it comes to the candidates’ names and the positions they are running for. It is evident that times have changed since the 1960s, when political protests, rallies and strikes were a common activity on college campuses, and when the voice of students counted as much as anything else in politics. Today we are living in the new millennium, and attending one of the most prominent schools in the country. The students, as a way of showing political spirit and support, did not even hold one large political rally or campaign. Sure, there were a few crumpled-up and slanted campaign signs stating “”Bush-Cheney”” or “”Gore-Lieberman”” hung on posts, but this is a university full of young, educated students and future leaders of our country. Hanging signs on posts is not going to get any ideas across to anyone. So where are the hardcore activists who stand up on stage and preach their political views? Where are the spirited groups that give out stickers and American flags and tell passersby to vote for the person who they passionately believe to be right for our country? Unfortunately, those people do not exist here on this campus and, if they do, something is stopping them from showing their motivation and determination to stand up. The problem of voting on campus also contributes to the lack of political involvement and awareness. There were those who did vote and proved their commitment by waiting in the 15-minute voting line at Muir college on Tuesday, but the numbers that revealed their dedication did not even seem to include half of the school. While some had the excuse that they were not registered in the San Diego precinct, others did not even know that voting booths were on campus. The lack of political support among people between the ages of 18 to 23 has given political leaders the idea that young people do not care and, even worse, will not vote. For this reason, these leaders do not listen and mostly disregard the ideas and problems of young people in that age group. This past election was the first of the millennium, not to mention the first election that many UCSD students had the opportunity to participate in. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bore on campus. Standing in line for 15 minutes, I noticed that people talked about anything but whom they were going to vote for or what they wanted out of their future leaders. One student even claimed that he thought it would be funny to just close his eyes and randomly punch holes into the voting ballot. What this campus needs, along with many other college campuses, is political awareness and excitement coming from students who are willing to volunteer at different campaigns, spread their views around the school, and make their vote count in every possible way. Whether political spirit is strong on campus is not the central part of the problem. The main problem lies in what students need to do in order to show their commitment to their country. We cannot go back in time to when hippies and activists controlled most of the politics on campus, but we can make a difference through simple political rallies and gatherings that would get our central views across and make politics just a little more fascinating. If the majority of young people continue to disregard who leads their country, future leaders will simply oppose all of their requests and views. In other words, without speaking up and showing their support, students will be left in the dust. In this day and age, everybody needs to vote and participate, and as the cliche so vividly proved this election year goes, each vote does make a difference. ...

Hitting the Books or Hitting the Ball

Ever since I arrived at UCSD last year, I have heard continuous complaints about our school’s lack of a football team or its Division II sports teams. Many people think we should have at least a football team and make our Division II sport teams more competitive so they can become Division I teams. These people often refer to UC Berkeley or UCLA’s football and basketball teams as model teams that UCSD should have or emulate. Melissa Chow/ Guardian I believe otherwise. I like our school’s present focus on academics instead of sports. Notice I am not against having many sports teams, or even trying to make our present sport teams better. However, I am convinced that UCSD needs to keep its academic focus in order to fulfill its role as a university. A university is typically defined as an institution of higher learning. For a university to focus more on sports instead of academics is to be inconsistent with a university’s function. The definition usually does not mention sports. Based on the previous definition, any respectable institution that regards itself as a university should not make sports its primary focus. It is perfectly acceptable for a university to have teams in every conceivable sport. I personally support sports and anything that advances sports to a higher level. However, I believe sports should remain only as extracurricular activities in universities, and nothing more. Melissa Chow/ Guardian Some might say collegiate sports are very important because they help prepare athletes for professional sports. If so, people should create organizations expressly to train and provide assistance for aspiring athletes. Athletes should not look toward universities as stepping stones to professional sports, nor should they make sports their primary reason for going to colleges and universities. My second argument against making UCSD more sports-oriented concerns the students and their contributions to a university’s overall academic standard. I believe a school’s focus on collegiate sports affects that standard adversely. Students influence a university’s academic standard even before they arrive on campus. The caliber of the students that a university attracts and admits indicates that university’s educational quality. Top universities with strong athletic programs often try to attract potential athletes by lowering admission standards and granting athletic scholarships. These preferential admissions lower the overall quality of admitted students and are unfair to other qualified students who are also competing for admission. Athletic scholarships have the same effect. One’s athletic, not academic, abilities determine one’s access to these scholarships. Academic achievements become minor factors, and universities often overlook them as they try to attract able athletes. These admission and scholarship issues occur most often at universities with famous athletic programs, because they are trying to maintain their athletic reputations. The pressure comes from students and others who focus more on sports than academics. Universities like UCSD can prevent their academic standards from sliding further by making academics their top priority and giving athletic scholarships only to athletes with strong academic backgrounds and admitting them according to general academic standards. Athletes continue to influence a university’s academic standard once they arrive on campus. Often, when student-athletes enter college, they become more athletes than they are students. There is strong pressure to do so partly because college sports compete at a higher level than high school sports, and partly because schools that are known for their athletic programs care more about their athletes’ performance than their academics. The long hours athletes in universities across the nation train for competitions reflect this pressure. Sometimes these practices total more than 40 hours a week, which is comparable to what a full-time job requires. Some people might disagree and refer to the NCAA regulations on sport practices. NCAA regulates formal sports practices, but it doesn’t regulate informal, or “”optional”” practices. On the surface, these so-called optional practices sound innocuous. In reality, they are mandatory. Some coaches allow their players to play only if they attend these optional practices. Whether all athletes do train excessively is unknown, but one can be sure that there is pressure to train hard, and that the stronger a university’s athletic department is, the stronger the pressure. All this training eventually turns an extracurricular activity into the student’s primary activity. Reduced study time translates into lower grades, which lower the university’s overall academic standards. Universities that emphasize athletics are also disadvantageous to their students. Their athletic programs are more likely to pressure their athletes to dedicate themselves to the team and the bare minimum to themselves. Often there is no happy medium between the time for the team and time for one’s studies, which eventually forces the student to choose between the two. If the student chooses sports and the team over himself and his studies, then he will make his decisions for the team’s benefit. Universities that focus too much on athletics and pressure their students to do the same jeopardize their students’ futures instead of furthering them. By staying academic instead of turning athletic, UCSD is in step with the definition of a university. It serves both the community and its students adequately by providing them with a precious opportunity to obtain higher education in their fields and valuable job skills in order to meet today’s job market challenges. UCSD’s academic reputation and standard will continue to rise as a result of its dedication to education and research, instead of sports. ...

Intelligence Authorization Act Vetoed by Clinton

Proponents of the Intelligence Authorization Act were sent into an uproar this week after President Clinton vetoed the controversial piece of legislation. After a difficult process of deliberation, Clinton vetoed the act to the chagrin of authorities such as Janet Reno and organizations such as the CIA. However, Clinton’s action champions the right of free speech and the right of the press to keep the public informed. The Intelligence Authorization Act itself seems ordinary. It is fiscal in nature — legislation authorizing the distribution of funds to various governmental intelligence agencies for 2001. Buried within it, though, is an “”anti-leak”” clause, so termed because it makes the leaking of classified information by a government official a felony punishable by three years in prison. Current law criminalizes the leaking of defense-related classified information and other types of highly sensitive information related to national security. The Intelligence Authorization Act’s clause would have created sweeping changes with the potential to impinge free speech. For one, the broad nature of the clause’s language caused confusion among members of Congress, proving that it would be difficult to enforce. Confusion ensued in Congressional debates as to whether the clause would be applicable to members of Congress themselves, and whether those who benefit from the information leaked would be subject to persecution. It is not difficult to see why this aspect of the clause would be a matter of concern to those with a vested interest in protecting free speech. The editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post sent letters to Clinton,urging him to veto the legislation. Critics of the act recognized immediately that it would have been an attack on the roots of democracy to leave the press susceptible to persecution for informing the people. The clause’s broad language also caused legislators to wonder if its wording would allow the Executive Branch free reign to determine what denotes “”classified”” information. Unlike previous provisions, the Intelligence Authorization Act’s clause does not specifically state that matters such as Executive Branch gaffes cannot be classified. If the clause had become law, a president with a pernicious past could have exploited its harsh penalties to his advantage: Imagine what would happen if a president were to classify a major flub, only to prosecute the government official who leaked it to the press. The term “”classified”” would no longer denote a status of secrecy for the protection of the nation — it would come to mean anything that a department or a high-ranking official did not want known publicly. Even those who favored the act’s passage did not jump to conclude that it would result in a tighter seal around matters of sensitivity. Last week Reno was asked at a news conference how the act would assist the prosecution of those who leak classified information, as there are so few cases of such prosecution now. “”I don’t think there is a reluctance to prosecute the person who leaks information,”” Reno replied, “”but finding that person while at the same time honoring the First Amendment interests of the media is a very difficult task.”” Thus Reno did not assert that the clause would result in more prosecutions. Though it may be naive, it is reasonable for an employer to expect that his employee will be faithful and truthful. In most cases this is for the good of the company as a whole. In government, the situation functions differently: Though a breach of trust can harm the nation, it is imbued with the potential to affect the nation positively as well. Experience tells us that leaks to the media, even of “”classified”” information, do more good than harm. The most prominent examples of this are the cases involving the Pentagon Papers and, of course, the Watergate scandal. No one can deny the significance of these two events in shaping the public’s consciousness on issues they should have known about. The government should expect fealty from its employees, but people should also expect the truth from their government. As we cannot generally rely on our government to keep us informed of issues that can affect us greatly, the importance of the media’s ability to do this becomes tantamount. It remains to be seen whether the Intelligence Authorization Act is gone for good. Its critics and its proponents alike are vehement, but its critics may prove to be the stronger side. If so, it can only be hoped that our next president will have the clarity of mind to recognize the legislation for what it is — an attempt to restrict the rights guaranteed to the people and the press. ...

Transportation Department Lacks Humor

Apparently, the UCSD transportation department has lost its sense of humor. Last week, it informed Debbie Evans, a shuttle driver, that she is no longer allowed to act like a pirate on her shuttle. Since the beginning of the school year, when she started her shuttle-driving career, Evans has worn a red bandanna, an eye patch (not over any eyes, of course), and occasionally a fake hook or parrot while on the job. She had greeted passengers with an occasional “”Ahoy, matey!”” or “”Arrrggg!”” mixed in with the standard “”Hello.”” In doing this, Evans livened up the atmosphere on the Regents East shuttle, amusing some, if not all of the passengers. Even the ones who didn’t find her funny didn’t complain about it; Evans was not reprimanded because of any customer complaints. Her superior’s decision to ban the pirate act came after other shuttle drivers complained that it was “”unprofessional.”” While I respect the right of Shuttle Operations to set standards for its employees and to enforce them, in this case it has made a poor decision. There are no rules prohibiting shuttle drivers from attempting to entertain their passengers. In her act, Evans did not put anyone in danger, nor did she do anything to make her passengers doubt her ability as a driver. Her actions may have been, as the other drivers say, “”unprofessional,”” but I don’t think that the word is very well-applied to the profession of shuttle driving. If it were truly a professional situation requiring a professional demeanor, shuttle drivers would likely be prohibited from playing their own music, talking to friends while they drive, and waving at each other all the time. If this were an issue of safety, I would be the first to support the transportation department. Last year, a driver on the shuttle out to East Parking bothered me not because of his appearance or his greetings but because of his total lack of safe driving skills. There were more than a few times on that shuttle where I expected it to tip over going around a curve. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a talkative pirate over a threat to my safety any day. Perhaps the transportation department should worry less about the acting skills of its employees and more about their ability to drive. This is much less a case of safety or of professionalism than it is a case of wanting to preserve the status quo. Evans’ co-workers and superiors, faced with an expression of individualism they hadn’t seen before, decided to reject it as different instead of judging it at face value. From what I have been told by Evans and by the Transportation Office, this issue is still unresolved. Evans retains her desire to brighten up the mood on the shuttle with her rendition of “”Yo ho, yo ho,”” and her superiors are still stopping her from doing so. I personally am saddened by this because I’m tired of being bored on the shuttle. UCSD is not the most exciting school in the world, and we should be doing all that we can to support a little bit of diversity and individuality. If you share my sentiments and would like to see the reappearance of Pirate Debbie on the shuttle system, please call Shuttle Operations at (858) 534-6282 to voice your opinions. You do have a say on your campus. ...

Props & Flops

Thumbs up to no more political advertisments bombarding us when we want to watch television in peace. Thumbs down to nonvoters. Your vote could have changed the course of the nation. ...

Editorials

Vincent Gragnani, Editor in ChiefBill Burger & Alison Norris Managing EditorsJeffrey White, Copy EditorTom Vu, Opinion EditorLauren I. Coartney, News EditorRobert Fulton, Sports EditorDavid Pilz, Photo Editor Voter information guides are meant to be informative, not misleading. Last week, the UCSD College Democrats distributed a voter guide on campus, listing their endorsements for various positions and propositions. We at the Guardian, however, find the guide grossly misleading. The front of the guide says, “”UCSD Student Voter Guide, Election Day, November 7th 2000″” and includes an official UCSD logo. The logo, which abstractly resembles Geisel Library, is generally used side-by-side with the name UCSD. We feel that it was misused, leading students to believe that the guide was prepared by the university or the A.S. Council. The back of the guide includes endorsements, listing and endorsing the Democratic candidates for president, U.S. senator, U.S. representative, state senator and state assembly. It also made recommendations on the eight propositions. “”Paid for by UCSD College Democrats”” is printed at the very bottom of the endorsements, as well as a Web address for the College Democrats. The Guardian feels that the College Democrats should not mislead students. “”UCSD Student Voter Guide”” is extremely vague, and the name does not even offer students a hint that the guide was paid for by a partisan student group. The front of the voter guide should have been appropriately labeled, making it clear that the guide was put out by the UCSD College Democrats, and not made or paid for by the university. Others apparently felt the same way. On election day, members of the UCSD College Democrats passed out their voting recommendations, this time with the name of the organization handwritten on the top of the front of the guide. We appreciate their straightforwardness in making the correction, but feel they should not have tried to get away with the original flyer in the first place. The United States Student Association, on the other hand, distributed a more appropriate student voter guide, one that the College Democrats should have emulated. The name of the organization is printed on every page of the guide, including the front. It did not mislead, nor misrepresent anyone. The Guardian applauds USSA for making an effort to inform students in an honest way. ...