Letters to the Editor: A.S. president responds to accusationsCouncil's aim is to best serve the need

    Editor:

    On Jan. 28, 2002, I awoke to find Guardian writer Ryan Darby’s opinion article, titled “”Leaning to the left wing,”” inflammatory, derogatory, disrespectful, untruthful, deceitful and altogether a defamation of my character.

    I’m writing in hopes of addressing not the personal politics and motivation behind such a conservative and extreme article, but to shed light on my involvement (or lack thereof, rather) in the entire process of the resolution in question. I intend for this letter to be my final words on this matter.

    When approached in early November by the Freedom Alliance — a coalition of student organizations including the California Review, College Republicans and Conservative Union — with the “”Pro-America Resolution,”” my only concern from the beginning was its title.

    The A.S. Council, in the interest of representing the student body of UCSD, seeks to be as politically neutral and nonpartisan as possible. Admittedly, we have passed and will continue to pass resolutions affirming the rights of people in the United States to access higher education via financial aid, admissions reform and so forth, but in no way, shape or form have we ever identified our initiatives directly with a political affiliation.

    The initial resolution, including the title, was directly linked to the Freedom Alliance’s efforts in the “”Pro-America Rally and Campaign,”” which concerned me.

    The students have a right to a nonpartisan A.S. Council, which only takes political stances on issues affecting students on campus, in the University of California and in the United States. Direct affiliation with a partisan effort, regardless of which side, is something that I will continue to fight against.

    On the notion of politics in the A.S. Council, I feel that it is important for the students of UCSD to know that in representing you all on local, systemwide and national levels, we only take stances that work in the best interests of our constituents. The A.S. Council will never and should never directly affiliate itself with a political party. It should take every student issue at face value, measuring the effect and worth of all sides before asserting a position.

    Darby’s article frames me as “”un-American”” and compares me to communist and socialist leaders. The bases for these accusations are false and inaccurate. As stated previously, my involvement and concerns stemmed no further than the title of the resolution. I felt it was the responsibility of the A.S. Senate, being the only 20 students voting on this legislation — yes, that’s right; I don’t actually vote on the A.S. Council — to address any concerns students had regarding the resolution’s content.

    With the direct involvement of the College Democrats, who had been raising serious concerns over the resolution from the beginning, the A.S. Senate cooperatively worked with the Freedom Alliance to effectively redirect the legislation from its partisan nature to a position more representative of all students. This was not an effort to devalue, disgrace, disrespect or disapprove of the United States.

    The structure of the A.S. Council is based on that of the U.S. government. How could we, as student leaders and representatives, hate America? This notion is absurd and unfounded. No one on the A.S. Council — not Vice President Internal Jenn Brown, Vice President External Dylan DeKervor, me or anyone else — has ever articulated a hatred toward America.

    Darby, in conjunction with the authors of the resolution, seems all of a sudden to have developed some sort of standard by which individuals are measured to be “”un-American.”” As intelligent students and people, one cannot deny the ironic correlation the term “”un-American,”” as used here, has to McCarthyism during the Red Scare. Is our campus initiating a committee on “”un-American activities?”” Is our nation, no doubt already suffering from the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, going to start weeding out citizens and officials alike for alleged “”un-American activities?””

    Students’ concerns should not be directed toward me, but rather toward the political culture and divisiveness these extreme conservatives are creating in a time when not only the campus but the nation requires unity.

    Last, I want to reassure the student body that the A.S. Council is willing and has always been willing to work cooperatively with anyone to resolve outstanding concerns people may have. I have taken more than enough time away from A.S. efforts to improve campus life to address the issues surrounding this resolution.

    I can’t help but wonder, with A.S. elections pending so closely in the future, whether people aren’t utilizing the Guardian, Freedom Alliance and A.S. Council to push their own political agenda.

    Ultimately, the students of UCSD need to understand that Darby’s article was sensationalized, exaggerated and taken extremely out of context, removed from the original intent of the A.S. Council and me in order to further propagate a collective of individuals’ personal agendas.

    With great respect to the United States, which guarantees my freedom of speech under the First Amendment (something I have the privilege to exercise in writing this statement, because of U.S. efforts to protect our sanctity to freedom), I affirm my continual commitment to the student body here at UCSD.

    — Jeff Dodge

    A.S. President

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