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Letters: August 5 - August 12

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AUGUST 05, 2013

Student regent needs to represent all students

UC student regents are supposed to represent all UC students. Sadia Saifuddin’s leading role in the UC-wide anti-Israel divestment movement calls into question her willingness to represent the Jewish community — its extreme left excepted.

In pushing for divestment from the Middle East’s sole liberal democracy, she proved herself part of a radical passel of sanctimonious students whose pursuit of a narrow agenda knows no bounds of reason, propriety or honesty. She pursued the agenda of the Muslim community to the derogation of the Jewish community, and many Jewish students are anxious about what she will do next year.

Saifuddin’s record on free speech is also poor. Her sponsorship of SB 114, censuring professor Tammi Rossman-Benjamin of UC Santa Cruz (who had remarked on the worrying prevalence of anti-Semitism among Muslims in the UC system), was startlingly intolerant of Benjamin’s free speech rights.

Amid the invective directed against her during her confirmation process, there was substantial truth. We can only hope that Saifuddin will make her year as the first Muslim-American UC student regent a positive milestone — for which there is tremendous potential. If she uses her position to bring Muslim and Jewish students together and stands up for free campus dialogue, her tenure can fulfill that potential. We hope it does.

— Ariel Fridman,

UC Berkeley junior

 

 

Having the right to smoke

I am a nonsmoker and a proponent of healthy lifestyles, but I disagree with the Draft Tobacco-Free Campus Policy at UC Berkeley which states that there is no safe level of second-hand smoke.

The U.S. Surgeon General and the campus policy claim that “there is no safe level of secondhand smoke.” That is an unfounded claim and probably a false one when you consider infinitesimal quantities. Second, the policy prohibits tobacco products that affect only the user, including smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

I believe that people should be free to do what they want, especially if it does not directly harm someone else.

Also, I’d prefer that UC Berkeley spend its resources on education rather than on the enforcement of this policy.

 

Jeffrey Yunes

Bioengineering doctoral student

BART strikes touches us all

Interesting piece from Rhea Davis in the July 29 article in The Daily Californian (“We need to hold inept managers accountable for BART impasse”). I try not to point a finger of blame at BART managers, workers or negotiators. But I remember well the four-day BART strike that crippled Bay Area businesses in early July. Hundreds of thousands of BART riders were directly affected. I also personally witnessed the ripple effect of the strike when people trying to catch an already late, overcrowded AC Transit bus from Berkeley to Oakland were told they would have to wait for the next bus.

The recent BART strike touched us all — public transportation commuters, car drivers who were stuck in traffic on the freeways or bridges and Bay Area businesses, which lost an estimated $73 million each day of the strike. The strike reflected a perceived ambivalence, even disdain, on the part of BART managers and workers alike toward constituents — the riders. I don’t know whether the workers had their “boot on the neck of the dragon,” as Ms. Davis stated. I do know that during the strike, my commute from San Francisco to work in Berkeley was close to three hours. That made for a long, exhausting work day.

Let’s encourage the parties involved to stop chest-beating and get back to negotiating in good faith.

— John Bird,

Haas School of Business faculty projects coordinator

We need the full story behind solitary confinement prisoner

I read the July 29 cover page article entitled “UC Berkeley student, former inmate, speaks out about solitary confinement” with great interest. Certainly, solitary confinement seems to be a very intense way to rehabilitate a prisoner. But did you give us “the full story”? It would seem not.

What was missing from the article was any significant detail about his victims. Imagine being the victim of a carjacking, perhaps still impacted by the trauma. And why did Czifra accept a four-year sentence “after being found guilty of spitting on an officer”? Sorry, but the article seems to be incredibly slanted and lacking several pieces of information that would allow the reader to see the full story.

I hope that Czifra continues to be a model citizen — it seems he got dealt a bad hand of cards. Solitary confinement seems harsh, but it is not imposed without some level of just cause. It is a policy that seems unfair. However, it is not without some level of merit in response to the actions of a prisoner. Surely, if a prisoner is a gang member, then it needs to be considered. Congratulations to Steven Czifra on being able to completely turn his life around.

— William Cain, 

Contact the opinion desk at [email protected]
LAST UPDATED

AUGUST 04, 2013


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