Letters to the Editor

Academic calendar at USF unorganized
Re: “40 hours and no sleep –it must be finals week” Dec. 2, 2003

Nothing says mediocrity at USF more than its failure to maintain the academic calendar. Grace Agostin’s column concerning the stress of “Finals Week” was most interesting, especially since it described her experience on Monday for the next day’s Oracle.

President Judy Genshaft may proclaim our equality with Syracuse, Rutgers or Pittsburgh, and our provosts may concoct proclamations about standards to impress accrediting agencies such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. However, I’d be more convinced of our excellence if even one of them lifted a little finger to maintain existing rules about the need for exams and tests in the designated exam week.

My experience is that many faculty members will either cancel classes for the three days preceding Thanksgiving, or students will cut classes. Exams and tests routinely are given in the ultimate week of the semester so that vacations may begin early. We are not really serious about the academic enterprise here at USF; we’d just like to have others think that we are.

Academic schedules are more than generous when it comes to vacation time, and the work itself is what many folks would call leisure activity — thinking, reading, speaking or writing. When I’ve questioned administrators about this problem of the loss of nearly 15 percent of the teaching time of the semester, the routine answer has been “We can’t do anything about it.”

I suggest that should be the logo for our report on standards to SACS, Phi Beta Kappa and the Big East. Alternatively, if the academic calendar is un-workable, change it.

J. D. Noonan is an associate professor for the Classics.

Students shouldn’t support Fla casinos

I have noticed that no matter where I am on campus a man approaches me whose first question is, “Are you a registered voter in the state of Florida?” I started counting the first week of this fall semester how many times he approached me, and the running total now is 76. He has approached me at Cooper Hall and the Library, but the majority of run-ins have been in MLK plaza or the Marshall Center.

On one occasion, this man got far enough to explain the nature of his questioning. He was attempting to get students to sign a petition for the addition/legalization of casinos in the state of Florida.

I would like to address this because I don’t think that the majority of people deliberate enough before they sign these petitions. The Seminole Indian Tribe has 2,817 members, and the money received as a result of the gambling that occurs on their reservations economically impacts all. The casino revenue per memb is $87,682. Total federal aid for Native American programs hit $9.4 billion in 2001. The irony is that this man is telling students that money from casinos will be going toward public education. That is great if you really think you are putting a kid through school by playing the slots.

The truth is that if that $9.4 billion grows due to the lack of people visiting Native American casinos, whom do you think is going to make up the difference? I think it is the responsibility of the American citizen to support minority groups and especially our Native American communities. This man who is walking and stalking around campus gets paid for each signature he collects. It seems that he does not have a moral care in the world about the local reservations and the impact that legalizing casinos would have on the financial state of the Native Americans, who rely on this money for income and economic support within their communities.

When you see this man on campus, don’t sign his petition. In fact, ask him to leave your campus and remind him that not only have we already taken enough away from our Native American citizens, but that you are not about to pay the debt of supporting people who will lose money and livelihood over this potential casino catastrophe.

Eljyn Reid is a junior majoring in gerontology.

Corporate takeover affects students
Re: “On -the- job training” Dec. 2, 2003

It is not news, Oracle readers, that huge corporations are trying to control every aspect of our lives and our society. Campaign contributions from corporate mega-donors decide which candidates are elected (or selected) in our “democracy.” Corporate lobbyists dictate which laws might see the light of day, while corporate media spoon-feeds an apathetic population a diet of infotainment sprinkled with state-sponsored lies. Corporate profiteering by companies such as Halliburton and Bechtel chooses when and where the young people of our armed forces will die.

What is surprising is the ease with which we passively allow that to occur.

Never have I seen this as vividly as when I read the front-page story Tuesday.

Sandra Serrano quoted a USF student who works at Busch Gardens:

” ‘If you have a death in the family or something, you may not be able to get the day off because there might be someone else who is scheduled off for that day,’ Jones said.”

Corporate control has become such an ingrained dogma that a statement as obscenely repulsive as a job being more important than the death of a family member can be written on the front page of a student newspaper without the slightest hint that a more humane or civilized option is possible.

Instead, both the writer and the employee bow to the power of mighty Anheuser-Busch by not questioning.

A few pages later we can laugh at a cartoon showing that even Mickey Mouse might be “downsized” for standing up to the corporate bullies at Disney. In an opinion cartoon, it’s darkly humorous. In real life, it’s revolting.

Sean Kinane is a Ph.D. candidate in biology.