Letters to the Editor

Justin Choi

The Sophomore Class Council’s misogyny and WU’s rape culture

To the Editor:

I would like to applaud Craig Pirner and the editorial board for their recent condemnation of the Sophomore Class Council. I was inspired to see so many people recognizing the misogyny contained in the newsletter and speaking out against it.
However, I am writing to thank the Sophomore Class Council. While I highly doubt that their intention was to call attention to the prevalence of rape culture on our campus, they have done an excellent job. When representatives of our student government find sexist jokes that degrade women to be humorous and appropriate to disseminate to the entire sophomore class, it is hard to deny that the culture of this campus still accepts and implicitly condones rape. Student Life has devoted many editorials this year to discussion about whether Sexual Assault Awareness Week and groups like CORE and One in Four are needed on this campus. Hopefully this newsletter is evidence enough that they are all desperately needed.
While I agree that the Sophomore Class Council needs to take responsibility for their inappropriate actions, I think it is far more important that the student body, and especially Student Union, recognize the need to address and challenge issues of sexism, racism, and homophobia on our campus. Perhaps the newsletter will produce a positive result, and we will finally see some change.

Lisa Kohn
Class of 2005

To the Editor:

After reading “Sexually explicit newsletter upsets students” [Student Life, 4/8/03], I felt obliged to respond; a dissenting male voice regarding the Sophomore Class Council newsletter was conspicuously absent. I am confident that I am not the only man on campus that was appalled reading such misogynistic literature in the newsletter.
The Sophomore Class Council and cabinet are representatives of the Class of 2005 to students, the administration, the Washington University community, and our surrounding community. I am ashamed that I am represented by such insensitive, irresponsible leaders.
Not only was material that degraded women, made a joke of rape, and spoke poorly of men’s sensitivity to these issues allowed to be distributed to the Class of 2005, the Sophomore Class Council has been hesitant in accepting responsibility. As leaders and representatives, the onus is on them to assume responsibility for a newsletter with their name on it. It is reprehensible that, given this, the response to complaints was so lukewarm. A vague apology to only the class of 2005 is unacceptable. You have offended students at Washington University, the administration and the community. Be true leaders and acknowledge your accountability. Likewise, Student Union, as a named funder of the newsletter, is also answerable for its content, and should be outraged that their money is going towards institutionalized bigotry.
Know that such a cursory apology and such irresponsibility in allowing this hate literature to be printed is not accepted, by either women or men. If you feel that such humorous attempts at degradation are offensive, speak out! Not only will the message be sent to your peers and your representatives, but the administration and the community will realize that the Class of 2005, and Washington University, refuse to be characterized as misogynistic, sexist, distasteful, and insulting. In situations like this, silence is complicity.
I am sure that if a class council, or other student government body, were to distribute a “joke” about lynching an African-American or a “joke” about the Holocaust, there would be an outcry. I am as confident that people on this campus will realize that humor that so thoughtlessly oppresses people based on their gender is as inexcusable as humor that discriminates against people based on their ethnicity or religion.

Rishi Rattan
Arts & Sciences, Class of 2005

Forgive the sophomore class council!

To the Editor:

I’m writing about the attacks made on the Sophomore Class Council over the student newsletter put out last week. I think it is unfounded to ask Soph. Class Council to resign over this issue. They are individuals who are highly respected and an integral part to this campus. They uphold all standards of Wash U, and would not intentionally offend ANYONE! They all uphold the moral standards of this university by acting as leaders and representatives of the student population. They should not be blamed by being asked to resign from office for their mistake of not throughly reading the letter!! This is a mistake that they have fully been made aware of, and I am certain that an innocent mistake like this will not happen again. The harshness of this reaction is completely unreasonable, and in my opinion (and all of my student peers’ opinions), Student Council must be forgiven.

Laura Abulafia
Class of 2005

I do not have to support the President

To the Editor:

This is my response to those letters and articles urging us to stand behind our country and our president, right or wrong, and give up protestation and dissent. Here are the words of Teddy Roosevelt during World War I. They stand by themselves. “The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.
Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.” “Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star,” May 7, 1918

Sarah E. Geimer
Class of 2005

‘Poo-bah of putzes Alex Fak’

To the Editor:

We, the “three students” lambasted by Poo-bah of putzes Alex Fak (“Word Wars,” Opinion 4/11/03), feel it necessary to clear up a few things. First, hating Israel does not equal hating Jews. There are those, however, who are able to engage in both simultaneously. Mr. Fak’s argument seems to be that because not all crimes are hate crimes, there are no hate crimes.
Second, whether in his heart of hearts Jonathan Sternberg is an anti-Semite is beyond us, but given his liberal use of anti-Semitic myths (to call them “arguments,” Mr. Fak, is to insult your readers’ intelligence), we feel that our criticism of him was and remains well-founded.
Third, there is a whole lot of anti-Semitism going around, but not as much as some allege. It is admirable that Student Life is critically examining charges of racism and bigotry. It is therefore all the more tragic that it is doing so in such an insipid manner. We told Mr. Sternberg to “shut up,” not for being an anti-Semite, but for being an uninformed, uninformative dolt. In the spirit of our previous letter, then, we advise Mr. Fak to do the same.

Michael Kieval, Class of 2002
Jarad Siegel, Class of 2003
Phillip King, Class of 2002

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