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Letters to the Editor

Police handled’noose incident’ well

On behalf of the Black Student Union, all other multicultural organizations and any other group that is against racism and hate crimes, I want to say thank you to USF’s administration and University Police, especially Chief Johnson, Dr. Nixon, Dr. Henry, Dr. Purcell, Dr. Love and Dr. Hernandez.

I was informed that a noose was found hanging from a tree near the Magnolia Apartments this past weekend. I was told during a meeting Thursday with the earlier named administrators and the President of USF’s Gospel Choir. After the meeting I escorted the administrators to the weekly BSU meeting where they explained the situation to 100 or so students.

We were informed that based on Florida statutes, this is not technically a crime. Dr. Nixon told us he involved the police because whether it is a crime or not, he feels it is a serious matter, and for that, we are thankful. We have faith in Chief Johnson’s staff and believe that they will find the person or persons responsible for this and that punishment will be given out.

We will keep in close contact with the administration and university police to make sure that this situation does not go unresolved like the MLK bust desecration did. We will see to it that someone is held responsible for this and that the punishment fits the crime.

Considering that last year it was the MLK bust and that this year there is a noose, I think it is time for USF to turn its attention to the feelings and well being of its under-represented students. Unfortunately, it is now extremely difficult for me to tell my constituents to be calm and feel safe.

I cannot express in words how this makes me feel; nor can I begin to imagine how this makes the black population at USF feel. A noose hanging from a tree entails all sorts of insinuations and makes us, the black students, think all kinds of thoughts. There is already a problem with the university’s retention of its black students, now there seems to be another growing problem. Do other students even want us here? Whether they do or not isn’t our concern. We are concerned about students feeling safe and secure so that they can pursue a higher education without looking over their shoulders and worrying about their safety.

Esque Dollar is the President of the USF Black Student Union.

Clarificationof faculty salaries
Re: “Profs want to be paid like peers, but how?” Feb. 5

As President of the Faculty Senate, I appreciated the informative article on USF’s poor faculty salaries.

However, a crucial point was not explained. Ms. Agostin wrote that the average pay for USF professors is $77,300, which many people might consider quite substantial — even compared to the higher averages elsewhere. However, this figure refers only to full professors — senior faculty members who are at the very top of their profession. Most faculty members are at the rank of assistant (pre-tenure), or associate (post-tenure); their salaries are naturally lower, bringing down the overall average considerably.

Assistant professors serve in that rank for six years; they have Ph.D.s and significant years of experience. By the time they are promoted and tenured (if they succeed), many are around 40 years old. Their average salary at USF is $48,987, compared with $55,276 at the University of Florida, and $62,582 at the University of Connecticut.

Associate professors are mid-career faculty with established, national reputations. At USF, on average they earn $20,000 less than assistant professors at the University of Connecticut.

The point is that the average professor at USF earns nothing like the $77,300 your story claims.

In other respects, Agostin’s points were well made. Quality education depends on quality faculty, and USF is falling farther and farther behind in the competition to retain the very best. If we can pay football coaches and top administrators competitive salaries, we must pay faculty if we are to survive and prosper. And we must also never forget that staff salaries at USF are disgracefully low — if we are to offer students the quality services they deserve, this issue cannot be forgotten.

We look forward to working with the administration and the Board of Trustees to find a solution, before the “brain drain” from USF becomes irreversible.

Elizabeth Bird is a professor of anthropology and president of the USF Faculty Senate.

Kucinich never said he does not intend to win
Re: Column, “Democratic musical chairs strengthens debate process.” Jan. 28

While it is true that Congressman Dennis Kucinich is intent on making his platform part of the Democratic debate, he has never said that he does not expect to win the election. Rather, with every primary he competes in, he rightly states that he has come further than the media predicted. There is a big difference between this sentiment and what was printed in your Jan. 28 column.

Though the column misrepresented Kucinich’s stance on his candidacy, it did bring up an essential point: This campaign needs to be about issues, not strategies. Even though media outlets tend to cover the election like a sporting event between two or three contenders, voters still have a range of viable choices.

With so many Democrats running, it is unlikely that one of them will receive more than 60 percent of the national vote. Unless one of them beats the odds, we will see the first brokered election since the 1960s, and this means that every vote cast now, even for the so-called long shots, will make a difference at the Democratic Convention in July.

So many people believe in Dennis Kucinich’s ideas — universal free healthcare, free college tuition, a plan to get out of Iraq and commitment to renewable energy production, to name a few — but they are afraid he can’t win. Well, the more votes he gets, the more delegates will represent him at the Democratic Convention and the better chance for him to shape the Democratic platform.

Kucinich is an experienced grassroots politician with a history of defeating Republican incumbents, and he has already defied expectations for 2004. He is prepared to go all the way in this election, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t. People desire a real alternative to Bush, and it is Kucinich who offers the starkest contrast on the issues as well as in personal background and political record.

However, if you still fall prey to the self-fulfilling “electability” myth and don’t believe he can win, remember that your vote for Kucinich will support his ideas at the Convention.

Rachel Dorroh is a USF alumna and former Oracle copy chief.