Click to read about the best places to eat on campus, freshman packing tips, and how to keep in touch with friends.

Letters to the Editor 3/28

French only care about the money

Wednesday’s editorial stating that “France will help — for a price” was right on the money (so to speak).

The French are as duplicitous as “peace activists” are dumb. France isn’t taking a stance on peace at all.

It has heavy investment in Iraq, more so than any other nation since U.N. trade sanctions were partially lifted in 1996.

In 2001 alone, France exported about $1 billion worth of goods to Iraq within the framework of the United Nation’s (now-frozen) oil-for-food program.

French oil producer Total-Fina-Elf spent the ’90s doing prep work on two of Iraq’s huge oil fields and signed agreements with Saddam to develop them.

Also galling (deGaulling?) about the French is their arrogant demeanor about Iraq. I read where one French business leader said that American companies will have difficulties in Iraq because of widespread anger against the U.S.-led bombing campaign.

He thought French firms’ experience working in Iraq should give them an advantage.

This is wishful thinking. The United States has carefully avoided bombing population centers and many reports reveal that the Iraqi people are grateful to be liberated from this oppressive regime.

The United States is already in the process of awarding post-Saddam reconstruction contracts, and I hope the French are completely left out.

As the war wraps up, the French will be trying to scramble in under the radar as The Oracle’s editorial board indicated to ensure that their economic interests are preserved.

But really, they don’t give une merde about the Iraqi people or peace.

Jeremy Rasmussen is an adjunct instructor for computer science.

Salary differences aren’t logical

I can’t believe that more than 20 years after the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment’s passage failed, some are still trying to push this tired piece of anti-legislation to the forefront of national politics.

The reason it failed before and the reason it will fail in the future is because Amendment 14, Section 1 of our Constitution states: … “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

So what exactly does the ERA bring to the table that an already-existing amendment does not? If women truly earn 76 cents on the dollar that a man earns for the same job, businesses facing a budget crunch should fire all male employees and replace them with females, because that nets them a 24 percent savings in payroll. Given that employers try to minimize their bottom-line whenever possible, that “statistic” must not be telling the complete story.

This ignores the fact that the ERA, as currently written, provides for “equal protection” under the law only. If your objective is to prevent salary discrepancies, the amendment should at least make the right laws redundant.

Joseph Yanes is a sophomore in electrical engineering.

USF did its best with Al-Arian issue

Imagine being in a bad marriage with no option for divorce. If the faculty union had its way, that’s what it would be like to be Sami Al-Arian’s employer. In this country, however, neither marital nor business relationships are conducted like a prison sentence without possibility of parole. None of us are guaranteed a job for life, and no employer should be forced to employ a liability. And to be sure, Al-Arian is a liability.

Two university administrations have had to place him on paid leave, and owing to his extramural speech, a firestorm of controversy has continually engulfed him. He has promoted hate: “Death to Israel.” He tried to vote illegally. He was indicted. And he lied to his colleagues about his involvement with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

If Al-Arian is cleared of criminal charges, the indictment still suggests some pretty damning evidence that he has communicated with PIJ officials through telephone and fax. Even one of his longtime allies, Arthur Lowrie, who worked closely with Al-Arian and other members of the World and Islam Studies Enterprise Inc., has turned on him.

If that’s not enough to constitute adequate cause, what is? Grade inflation? Al-Arian is bad for business. He’s the Billy Martin of academia. His off-the-field conduct is so embarrassing, that no matter how good he is at his job, he’s a liability to the team, tenure or not.

He deserves neither limitless protection from USF nor unflagging devotion from the faculty union, whose views on academic freedom and due process, found in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, seem, in post-Sept. 11 America, doctrinaire.

The most tenable argument in the document states, “A suspension which is not followed by either reinstatement or the opportunity for a hearing is, in effect, a summary dismissal in violation of academic due process.”

Too bad for Al-Arian. It would have been impossible for a hearing or reinstatement at the time of his dismissal. It’s hard to attend a hearing from behind bars.

The faculty union needs a reality check. Were it up to it, it would have an independent state within a state, a sort of self-governing entity, undefiled by the business side of the university. But if it believes strongly that higher education should be completely separate from business, then perhaps it should refuse to accept their pay as a form of protest.

Or better yet, the members can quit their comfortable university jobs and try self sufficiency for a change. Perhaps living in the woods like Thoreau would suit them best. That is true separation from business and society.

And from the isolation of the woods, they can cry, “Death to USF,” or any other invidious thing they wish. The trees can’t discharge them.

In a nutshell, USF isn’t Gilligan’s Island. Sure, we may have a Gilligan or two on campus, but we’re not 2,000 miles from the nearest corporate donor, as some pampered professors would like to believe.

We’re actually connected with the real world, the business world. And the termination of Al-Arian has little to do with the concepts of free speech, due process, or innocence until proof of guilt.

It’s just business — good business, in Al-Arian’s case.

William J. Jacko is a USF alumnus.