Letters to the Editor


I am writing in disgust over Ryan Darby’s article printed on Feb. 24 titled “”Council picks wrong man for the job.”” First, I am shocked at the omission that would have put Darby’s remarks into context — that he and his conservative New Wave slate lost last year’s A.S. election, trounced by the liberal Students First slate. Second, I was shocked at the fact that such poor writing and weak arguments made it past the Guardian editors. To argue that Ernesto’s passion and letter in defense of himself (during an onslaught of right-wing, racial attacks, mind you), was a character flaw and this would therefore hinder his job performance more than help it on a committee that Darby describes as hostile toward students, is simply unbelievable. His passion is one of his biggest selling points.

I loved how Darby described in detail Feller’s and Garo’s accomplishments, while slighting nearly every one of Ernesto’s. Darby failed to argue why Garo’s “”familiarity”” with the workings of the Academic Senate made him more qualified than Ernesto, whom Darby didn’t even bother to interview or give the slightest chance. Instead, he focused on Ernesto’s race, his “”liberal”” ideology and his allegedly poor grammar. Again, I want to express my amazement that this crap was splattered on the pages of the Guardian. I am far from being a race activist, but Darby inadvertently helped make Ernesto’s point on race through his ruthless attack on Ernesto by focusing, in large part, on his race.

I cannot argue that Feller is not probably the most capable person, knowledge-wise, for the job; I personally voted for him in the last two elections. However, knowing both Ernesto and Lance, I know Ernesto is the one that would speak up immediately when students were being railroaded, which Darby pointed out Beitollahi allegedly failed to do as commissioner. This is where that whole passion-as-a-strength thing comes in.

I can personally speak for Ernesto’s capability for diplomacy. He and I have found each other on the opposite ends of many issues, yet we always greet each other with respect; this is a tribute to his diplomacy. Darby’s focus on race made Ernesto’s point on race and this campus clear: It is hard to be an outspoken person of color on this campus, thanks to people like Darby.

Darby, as to your question of who should represent the students on this campus: How about those students who were elected in a landslide election? The Students First slate was elected on the promise of increasing student activism and increasing student voice in decision-making. There is no doubt that Ernesto will bring that to an Academic Senate that, in your words, may “”attempt to play hardball.”” It is obvious the story was motivated by Darby’s wounds from losing an election 10 long months ago, and I urge the Guardian to put such disclaimers into such personally motivated stories such as this.

— Cristina Villegas

John Muir College senior

Students and staff suffer from UC’s practices


Clerical workers, lecturers, technicians and nurses at the University of California took to the streets yesterday to defend quality education, research and health care. Why?

It’s not related to the state budget crisis. More than two-thirds of the UC budget comes from other sources. Grants and contracts increased significantly in recent years. The university’s own figures show operating income is up by double digits.

Employees are angry because the University of California is now widely recognized as California’s worst public employer. Forty-nine California legislators have publicly demanded more accountability and less arrogance from the university.

The quality of instruction, research and health care at its nine campuses and five medical centers suffers at the hands of the unviersity’s shortsighted management policies. The university has chosen to pursue low-bidder strategies that compromise the quality of services and mock the university’s traditions.

Lecturers have become an academic version of rotating-door temp workers. The university refuses to offer instructors meaningful job security. Lecturers are employed for a few years and then released, resulting in lack of continuity in academic programs.

Critical research and education positions suffer annual turnover of up to 50 percent. Cancer researchers, who take up to six months to train, often leave shortly after learning how to do their jobs. Continued progress in important research projects requires experts who know their fields of work, but with turnover rates at high levels, the pool of experts diminishes further each year. Computer technicians who set up networks or manage the complex operations of the university leave so quickly that new hires do not know what was installed on computers or how the network is put together, causing costly delays and errors.

The university’s 8,000 nurses are the front lines of care for hundreds of thousands of patients every year, making the university’s medical centers and student health centers among the largest healthcare systems in the state. But nurses have had to fight for a voice in patient care issues, while the university has gone on record opposing safe staffing ratios. Nurses have had an ongoing struggle with management over respect and fair treatment. Patient care has been jeopardized by the university’s actions.

Clerical workers make the university work. The university acknowledges it pays these essential staff members far below market rate. Turnover has reached as high as 54 percent for first-year employees. Clerical workers help students find housing, jobs and required classes. They schedule hospital appointments, maintain libraries, staff the childcare centers and pay the bills. The university’s campaign of harassment, intimidation and disrespect is shameful.

Every campus student association has voted to support employees’ actions.

The University of California has the power to right its wrongs. The Regents have recently signaled new commitments to accountability and fair treatment for staff. Now is the time for the university to put its house in order, beginning with fairness and respect for the employees who are protesting this week.

— Claudia Horning

President, Coalition of Union Employees

Kay McVay

President, California Nurses Association

Kevin Roddy

President, University Council-AFT