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Letters to the Editor

University leveltesting unnecessary
Re: “Experiencing the Holy land” Jan. 26

Perhaps someone should let the Board of Governors know that we already have a Florida-university standardized test: the College-Level Academic Skills Test or CLAST. As a member of the President’s Academy of Advisors, CLAST is one of the requirements that I discuss with students when giving them academic guidance.

According to the USF Education and Testing Web site, CLAST measures selected communication and mathematics skills. Students are required to pass the test before they can be granted an associate of arts degree and before they can begin taking upper-level courses; or, they can be exempted from the test with proven grades on appropriate college-level courses or by attaining qualifying scores on college entrance examinations.

Are we now to believe that CLAST is no longer a valid test, or never was? I fail to see how a single test could be prepared to cover the breadth of the total university experience. Would there be different tests for different majors and academic areas? I don’t understand this compulsion for high-stakes testing. Are we educating future leaders or simply preparing test takers?

Peter George is the Webmaster for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Palestinians should also have birthrights
Re: “Experiencing the Holy land” Jan. 26

As I was reading about the experience of Bennett Grossman who visited Israel as a part of the “birthright Israel” program that Hillel offers, I couldn’t help but feel highly annoyed, and perhaps slightly offended.

Although I am not Palestinian, many of my friends are. It pains me to know that many of them — refugees — will never be able to set foot in their country again. Yet, students from around the world can go, and in fact be financially compensated for their trip, simply because of the fact that they are Jewish and it’s their “birthright.” Since when is God a travel agent?

My friends have grandparents that are older than the state of Israel and they have memories still fresh in their minds of their villages. Villages, like Deir Yassin, which was massacred in 1948 when Israel established itself as a nation. Why is it that Palestinians are one of the largest refugee populations in the world? Have we forgotten that the Palestinian people were driven from their homes to facilitate the birth of this nation?

Of course these students who visit Israel are only seeing what they are allowed to see. I seriously doubt the tour includes a half an hour bus ride to the “occupied territories,” where Palestinians live in refugee camps and are under the constant and harsh occupation of Israeli militants.

I wonder if Grossman knows that the falafel sandwich he enjoys so much is a traditional Arab food. The way that Jews adopt Arab aspects of culture is perplexing. While they distance themselves psychologically and physically from “the Arabs” they celebrate Arab culture through wearing Henna tattoos, smoking Argeela or Hookah (a tobacco bong), and eating hummus.

I’m glad that these students were so lucky to visit the precious Holy Land of the three Abrahamic faiths. However, I wish this “birthright” would be applied equally to all three religions, because someday I too would like to visit the Dome of the Rock, a holy Muslim sight. I just hope I am given the same “birthright.”

Layelle Saad is a senior majoring in journalism and international studies.