Letters to the Editor

    Editors perpetuate

    negative stereotypes

    Editor:

    I am writing to express my outrage at the gross inaccuracy and misleading nature of a title selected by the editors of the Guardian for Parisa Baharian’s article, “”An odyssey through Iran,”” which appeared in the Sept. 24 issue. [The headline for her article’s jump on page B3 was “”Odyssey: Student experiences anti-American sentiments.””] Indeed, this title makes me wonder whether the editors bothered to carefully read the piece.

    The article makes it abundantly clear that during my stay in Iran, I did not experience hostility directed at me for being an American. Quite the contrary; Iranians went to great lengths to ensure my comfort and well-being — even as President George W. Bush issued a not-so-veiled threat against the country’s clerical authorities. Therefore, for the Guardian to characterize my summer in Iran as one of experiencing “”anti-American sentiments”” was both irresponsible and insulting to the many Iranians whose hospitality made my trip so enjoyable.

    While the zeal with which Iran is often associated with anti-Americanism extends far beyond the pages of the Guardian, what is most disappointing is that it continues at our university, a place which by definition should allow us the opportunity to question received stereotypes and attempt to understand other cultures. Even a cursory look at recent events in Iran — such as the landslide reelection of reformist President Khatami, who has made several overtures to repairing the rift between the United States and Iran — indicates that rapprochement is being openly debated in Iran. These developments, however, get lost if we continue to perpetuate the stereotypes of Iran.

    The fact that the Guardian took an interest in publishing an article of my experience in Iran indicates its willingness to engage in a much-needed discussion about Iran. Unfortunately, the title that it selected worked against its own good intentions and misrepresented the spirit of the article.

    — Shamideh Rossoukh-Cruz

    Eleanor Roosevelt College senior

    Affirmative action is about equal opportunity

    Editor:

    The misrepresentation of affirmative action and the UC admissions policies found in the article written in the Sept. 24 Opinion section of the Guardian merits a response. Affirmative action is by no means a plan for preferential treatment. In all actuality, affirmative action occurs at any moment “”people go out of their way (take positive action) to increase the likelihood of true equality for individuals of differing categories,”” as Drs. Faye Crosby and Diana Cordova have written. Furthermore, it creates an avenue to grant those of equal skill, promise and intelligence a fair opportunity in work or education.

    The opinion article “”Whining pays off in admissions”” is devoid of fact and perpetuates an unfair stigma associated with a program that has been federal policy since 1965. We are further convinced that the article’s writer is oblivious to the fact that affirmative action’s main beneficiary has been and continues to be white women; it has also helped create the most gains for the feminist movement.

    Additionally, we find it problematic that the writer dwells on the idea of Meritocracy. The formula “”talent + effort = success”” has been ingrained into students’ psyches from the first day of school. While this is central to a strong work ethic, the actual formula is “”talent + effort + opportunity = success.”” It is important to recognize the inequality of resources in public education. Students of affluent backgrounds traditionally receive an excellent education and more opportunity while those from a lower socioeconomic bracket receive a less extensive education, including limited or no access to SAT prep or AP and honors courses. In light of this unequal access, how can admittance be based solely on GPA and SAT’s? Differential access to resources is not equivalent to differential qualification. It is doubtful, despite the hard work it took to gain admittance to this university, that many students would be here if judged only on the basis of numbers.

    The comprehensive admissions process at UCSD applies to both genders and all races and economic groups. The explanation of the point system in the article is not complete. For instance, an applicant receives more points for being from California than for being a student of color. So if you want to find a group discriminated against, a better example would be those who are from another state. Furthermore, the post-affirmative action admissions system has never admitted all students on the basis of SAT and GPA scores only.

    Both the holistic approach and affirmative action allow the university to become an outlet that teaches not simply through academics, but also through diverse relationships. Diversity is crucial for a successful campus, placing students in situations that promote learning and adaptation.

    Lastly, if a holistic approach is making acceptance so easy, why have the numbers for groups that are traditionally underrepresented failed to change drastically? The real question should be: Is the university in place to reproduce advantage and elitism?

    — Jennifer Ganata

    Marshall senior

    Brandi Forte

    Muir senior

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