Letters to the Editor

United States cannot help everyone who needs it

Re: Editorial, “Immigrant military mom has earned her citizenship,” Oct. 13.

For the most part, I agree with the editorial on the immigrant military widow from Venezuela. Coming from a family of immigrants who became citizens, I understand firsthand that there are certain laws and steps that must be taken in order for an immigrant to become a citizen.

However, I also know that a valid marriage also secures citizenship. It appears that Dahianna Heard was in a valid and loving marriage based on her 1-year-old son and the memorial she set up for her husband in their home. Because her husband died serving his country, it would be greatly disrespectful to him for his own country to have his wife and child deported to a tyrannical country on the grounds of a measly three months.

Although the political state of the country in question does tug at the heart, I do not think it should be given much weight in the matter. The United States is a great country with a lot to offer to immigrants, but it cannot take in all people from countries under dictators or suffering from poverty and disease. Though I would be the first to jump up and say Americans should rescue everyone, the reality is they don’t have the resources to do so.

The main argument here is the injustice of being deported due to the death of her husband, a factor that no one could control, not to mention the fact that his wife would not be a widow were he not serving his country. In the name of respect and justice, the country should not deport her and her child. It is, as the article states, “a matter of moral obligation” to show this family compassion and understanding, not to add to their grief.

Andrea Cardoso is a freshman majoring in English.

USF should dillute Aramark’s monopoly

Re: “Aramark seeking tasty alternatives,” by Ryan Blackburn,” Oct. 13.

According to The Oracle, Aramark’s contract is expiring in August, and renegotiations have begun, making this an opportune time to voice an opinion on a matter I have felt strongly about from the first day I attended USF in fall 1998: The food choices available to students on campus are abysmal.

From the grease-soaked buns at Chick-Fil-A to the meager and overpriced sandwiches at Einstein’s to the ubiquitous and tired Subway and Burger King, the meal options on campus are sorely lacking. Could it be the lack of a personal touch that is found at a mom-and-pop business? Could it be the lack of a reflection of the diversity that is obviously present in both a densely populated metropolitan area such as the Tampa Bay area and in the student body? Or is it as simple as just a lack of good food?

I think all of these things are important to creating both an environment on campus that students want to be a part of while at the same time netting the highest possible profits as a result. I think this is best accomplished by allowing independent vendors to provide food across campus, vying for business. Thus, it will drive the competitive spirit that will ultimately result in higher quality food service.

Clearly, the alleged $5 million Aramark pays to ensure monopolistic control of all food service on campus is motivating from USF’s financial perspective. However, a move to allow private vendors into key areas on campus such as the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.

Cooper Hall and the Library may actually net as much for USF as a contract from Aramark would. If Aramark were allowed to purchase the contract to provide meal plans for resident students while also allowing private entrepreneurs to vie for the remaining business on campus, then USF would only need to collect a minimal percentage to make up the difference. Shouldn’t food choices on campus be decided by more than just the “bottom line?”

The real bottom line is that the food on campus is terrible. There are five Subway restaurants, seven Burger Kings and four Chick-Fil-A’s within five miles of campus – not counting the ones actually on campus. If students want fast food, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of choices. I am not claiming these restaurants should be banished from campus. I say let the students voice their opinions with their pocketbooks by allowing competition between independent entrepreneurs decide which restaurants stay and which ones go.

The alternative is embodied in the present situation; students are left with the meager choices that Aramark has decided for them, taking away all the checks and balances a competitive business is subject to. Ultimately, the mass of students and faculty who seek restitution off campus means lost profits for the University.

Meanwhile, if one is inclined to venture to the far reaches of the northwest corner of campus in the NEC building, the one restaurant that has eluded Aramark control, Tarik’s Cafe, continues to offer freshly made Cuban sandwiches, made-to-order burgers, soups, salads, gyros and a variety of other savory deli-style fare. This gem on campus exudes everything right about independent entrepreneurship. Tarik can regularly be found behind the counter, taking pride in his food while ensuring the fare is enjoyablel.

On the window of the cafe that overlooks the courtyard of NEC is a proudly displayed quote from one satisfied customer, “Tarik’s makes the best burger in Tampa Bay! -Joe.” This is something one would never see in an Aramark establishment.

I say let Aramark provide the resident cafeterias with food – this is an arena in which a large corporation has the means to work efficiently. But when it comes to the individual vendors in the numerous locations spread across campus, students deserve better! Independent vendors should be allowed to rent the spaces and vie for our business.

Abe Stern is a graduate student majoring in chemistry.

Coulter visit meant to provide variety

What was the purpose of Ann Coulter’s visit? Conservative, liberal and all other opinions expressed in a respectful – though not necessarily agreeable – manner are allowed on this campus.

Universities are the places to question and challenge intellects, beliefs and worldviews. I understand the intention behind the First Amendment freedoms, not as encouraging ridicule, but tolerating others’ opinions. USF students appear to abide by this belief as my syllabi informs me of certain decorum that students are requested to maintain. I may disagree with a classmate’s opinion, but it is inappropriate for me to use name-calling and other disparaging language to heighten my argument for why I disagree.

There are many nationally recognized speakers of disagreeable opinions capable of addressing college campuses on abortion, the war in Iraq and gay marriage without invoking mockery. I urge the selection of future speakers invited to USF to uphold the same standards students apply to themselves.

Marc Hébert is a doctoral student in anthropology.

Controversial rhetoric can be a good thing

Public universities such as USF have an obligation to provide a broad, well-rounded education with many different points of view. Listening to political and social commentary that you agree with does not broaden your perspectives or enlighten you on the position of those who do not agree with you.

Student fees and tax dollars are well spent by bringing speakers like Coulter to USF. Her rhetoric is over the top, but the controversial nature of her speeches encourages debate and free thought.

It is easy to take on an attitude of apathy in regards to politics, but when a speaker such as Ann Coulter engages an audience, its members take sides and positions. Controversial rhetoric is far less vile to me than to self-proclaimed academics who don’t vote and don’t have opinions based on anything other than whether their politicians kiss babies and eat pie.

The right to dissent and disagree with Ann Coulter is a given. In fact, it is the essence of democracy, but dissent should be deeper and more constructive than a statement wishing to silence a speaker. Dissent and criticism of Coulter should not only be based on fact and supported with details, but it should also respect her right to voice her opinions.

An open dialogue about the issues and the right to dissent is the critical difference between living in a democracy and living in a totalitarian state such as North Korea.

Stephen Ebel is a junior majoring in creative writing.