Opinion | Letters To The Editor
Dear UF President Kent Fuchs,
Readers beware: I feel the need to report something that happened to my family, which supposedly happens quite often at UF. It has to do with parking your car in the areas of tow-away zones, which includes most places on and surrounding UF’s campus.
MCDA needs to listen to the concerns of black and Latinx students regarding renovations to La Casita and the Institute of Black CultureJuly 10, 2017
I was an ambassador with Multicultural and Diversity Affairs for four semesters, where I worked exclusively at the Institute of Black Culture for three of those semesters. I chose to stop working for MCDA once it became apparent that many of the department’s actions didn’t align with the values that they promote. What is happening now with the renovation of the institutes is a prime example of how MCDA actively acts against the best interests of the students they claim to advocate for. Combining the IBC and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, or La Casita, is not only working to erase the histories of the black and Latinx communities at UF, but also to further disregard the needs and concerns of students of color within a predominantly white institution.
Thanks for the observant account by Romy Ellenbogen, "Controversial Princeton Holocaust historian visits UF," Alligator, online April 3, 2017, from which I quote: "As Jan Tomasz Gross addressed a crowd Sunday night, a single image was projected behind him.”
Who reads the editorials in The Alligator? I do. Or, at least, I did. A free campus newspaper has a unique opportunity not available to major outlets. The writers of the Alligator are (or should be) beholden to no one, except their audience. The Alligator is funded in part, I assume, by subsidies from UF or associated student organizations. Yes, there are ads in every paper, but few are from major corporations. So there should be little worry over losing advertisers. Yet, the editorials are often bland, middle-of-the-road noise. If you want life advice, then read Dear Abby. More importantly, if you want to give life advice, then provide reasons why your advice is valid. Editorial pieces should not be so agreeable. In fact, I suggest that op-eds be divisive. The Alligator had an editorial writer about a year ago named Michael Beato who wrote largely on matters of interest to conservative students. I abhorred 99 percent of Beato’s writings, but my roommates and I read his editorial each week to a discuss the reasons for our beliefs. I am not suggesting that the Alligator needs more diverse viewpoints; I am saying that the writers need to take a firm stand on issues more often. Writing should evoke a response other than “Mhm.” Not a shock response, but one that contributes to the moral, philosophical, educational, and, yes, even political discourse that should be taking place on this campus. Write something worth discussing in a classroom.
I am the son of a PGA professional and would like to offer a rebuttal to the Monday Matters article regarding the golf industry. The article is unsurprisingly lacking statistical evidence of waning golf interest, probably because there isn’t any. First, the article claims, “Nobody really wants to watch golf.” In fact, the PGA Tour reported a 22-percent increase in viewership in 2016. Second, the article claims that golf has a difficult “learning curve.” The PGA has instituted many new initiatives to make the game easier for beginners, including the Tee It Up program. While we’re at it, let’s talk about this difficult games popularity. The article poses golf as the sport for “out of shape old guys”. Interestingly, the PGA says 2.2 million people tried golf for the first time last year and 73% of them played again and again and again. Now, the money. Yes, golf is a big business with a worth of $70 billion, but it also has an annual charitable giving of $4 billion. And the average price of a round of golf is $36. This article was an attempt at a hot take, one that was so ill-researched, those who don’t golf could even read it as click-bait.
During Ben Shapiro’s speech on April 3, he criticized the term ‘rape culture’ as a slur against men. I was one of the “idiot protestors” at his event and specifically made my sign, which read “Stop Rape Culture,” for the talk. A sharp commentator who enlivens audiences with audacious statements on controversial issues, Shapiro tried to undermine the very real problem of sexual assault for college students, while blaming rape victims who do not report the crimes for helping to keep rapists out of jails. I address the problems with Shapiro’s claims, not only because they are potentially dangerous, but also to illustrate the often tenuous foundations of his fast “facts.”
Work on the project to rebuild the Institute of Black Culture and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures began last summer, with student input at different points throughout the process. In the last week, I’ve heard concerns from students surrounding the design and lack of involvement. As a UF alumnus who found a home at the IBC, I recognize and respect the history, significance and fight for these spaces. I want to hear more from our students and alumni, ensuring that I am attending to the experiences of past, present and future Gators. So, we are pushing pause and going back to the drawing board. We will still rebuild the institutes. The current condition of the facilities has not changed. But we will reexamine plans, bring back architects and work to get more ideas, opinions and voices. I greatly appreciate the feedback from students regarding increased communication. We will be implementing many of those ideas moving forward. I will be forming student advisory and alumni advisory committees for each of the institutes. These committees will play an integral role in the design and construction process moving forward. More information will be sent out regarding the committees early next week. I hope many students and alumni show interest in serving on the committees. Additionally, I want students to know that UF Student Affairs has been advocating for increased resources for this project. This past week, the UF Capital Improvement Trust Fund committee met, and their recommendation for more support is moving to the next step for approval. I share your passion for these spaces, and I look forward to more conversations.
One of the preeminent intellectuals of the last century, Noam Chomsky’s quote is aimed directly at our generation: “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” Nicole Dan’s recent publication posits that paying for Ben Shapiro’s appearance at UF by Accent represents not only their ignorance, but (at worst) sanctioned approval of his message. This is not only incorrect, but close-minded. Higher education is tasked with challenging assumptions, facilitating experiences and, god forbid, making us uncomfortable. To stick our head in the sand and ignore the perspectives of opposition parties not only insulates us from diverse perspectives and facilitates groupthink, but “other-izes” the very individuals we need to engage with the most. She argues that “there’s no room for dialogue when someone believes that a group doesn’t have the right to exist.” These moments necessitate discussion the most. As exemplified by the riots at University of California, Berkeley at the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos, our fear of hearing things that disturb us not only closes paths to dialogue, but alienates others. With Shapiro’s appearance having passed, consider these words: Apathy is the greatest insult. Protest, post on social media, but above all, don’t close your eyes. To do so is nothing less than intellectual dystrophy and further entrenches that which you purport to hate in our mainstream culture.
Dear Mr. Weldon,
Young Americans for Freedom president Daniel Weldon’s recent letter to the editor missed the mark. Although the author raised a number of valid concerns regarding students’ ability to engage in conservative dialogue on a college campus, his conclusion in calling for administration to intrude in student affairs ultimately departs from fundamental principles of conservatism. To his point, attending the Ben Shapiro Accent show this past Monday was the first time I witnessed faculty protesting a student-organized and funded event in my five years at UF. While this was certainly concerning, demanding “change” or “action” from UF President Kent Fuchs and administration would prove to be both fruitless and counterintuitive for an organization championing the cause of individual liberty. First, Fuchs is no more able to prevent students from tearing down conservative fliers on campus than he is able to prevent white supremacists putting fliers up on campus. At a certain point, it becomes necessary for students to reassess our beliefs on what is reasonable to expect from administration in ridding our campus of bias. Second, the author’s sentiments have begun to mirror those of the students Shapiro so adamantly opposes. Self-victimization likens the author to the “snowflakes” much of Monday evening was spent criticizing. Rather than calling on administration at a publicly funded institution to step in, conservatives on campus should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Bringing conservative speakers like Shapiro to campus is an excellent start, and I commend Weldon and YAF. Although I will concede there are campuses around the country like the University of California, Berkeley where students’ First Amendment rights are being trampled and administration intervention is necessary, this is simply not the case at UF. In between the sparse ranks of protestors, I also witnessed Dean of Students Office protest team staff working to deescalate the situation so the event could continue uninterrupted. Campus climate and culture should be shaped by students and students alone. When we call on others to fight our battles for us, we lose the autonomy and freedom we work so hard to maintain. Individualism and freedom from institutional intrusion is a hallmark of the conservative movement. Let’s keep it that way.
On April 3, famed conservative Ben Shapiro spoke to a packed crowd of more than 750 students in the University Auditorium. Throughout the week, liberal students tried to bring down conservatives in their opinion posts by destroying promotional material and even trying to prevent students from attending the event by destroying their tickets. While there were little to no reports of this, there was zero outrage or any reports of the student in charge of the protest posting, “Hope this dude gets seriously taken out while he’s here. And not in the date way” on Facebook. Yet conservatives were labeled as the “dangerous” ones. We were the ones labeled in an opinion piece as not representative of “the morals and values UF promotes.” So, is threatening the life of another person the values UF promotes because they fit the narrative? It is sad, because in a meeting for the event, a school official asked me to make sure no conservatives brought signs that say “kill all trans people.” The only ones doing this were the protesters. Regardless of how disappointing this is to have a university official label nearly half of Gator students as murderous, it shows just how bad ignorance on conservatism has become. This is the U.S., not a country dictated by Sharia where LGBTQ people are murdered for being born the way they are. To deny conservatives their humanity — their wanting to be viewed as people with problems like anyone else — is the reason our political culture is so militant.
Spring Break just made Smith Meyers something of a minor celebrity. I’d comfortably bet he has better name recognition now than when he won the Student Government election.
Everybody makes mistakes, but not everybody gets to be Student Body president. The way some people have responded (or not responded, if affiliated with Student Government) has been a disappointment. Let’s put the facts revealed by the arrest video out there, plain and clear: not only did Smith try to steal and damage multiple motorcycles, but he also appears to have punched a witness before running away and apparently also performed a poor carjacking attempt. Smith was trying to drive, and had Smith been able to get a vehicle running, he would have undoubtedly been a deadly threat to everyone around him and himself. Drunk driving is no joke and there is no shortage of personal tragedies out there to remind us of that. In Smith’s recorded words, however, “it’s not my fault.”
I wholeheartedly agree that we should not ruin Meyers’ career over these events, however, I disagree on some key details.
This is in reference to an Alligator story published March 13, in which a Papa John's Pizza employee was fired after writing a joke about domestic violence on the inside of a customer's box of brownies. The joke asked, "What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing, you already told her twice."
I am writing to voice my support for incoming Student Body President Smith Meyers and speak on behalf of the thousands of students who have read his statement and accepted his apology. I don’t know Smith well, but what I do know from mutual friends is how much this situation has weighed on his heart. Smith has worked for four years advocating for students and portraying UF in a positive light. That should not be erased by the actions of one night. I also find it puzzling that the majority of students calling for his resignation — because he embarrassed the university — are the same students sharing the stories and videos all over social media, presumably spreading the embarrassment they claim to oppose. I also find your publication’s criticism of his transparency to be unfounded. As anyone who has ever found himself or herself in a legal situation knows, you do not talk about your case with anyone other than your attorney before it is decided so as not to impact the outcome. This holds especially true for media outlets. What information are you asking from Smith that he could ever possibly give you? Finally, your criticism of administration for their lack of comment is also unfounded. No university official is able to comment on the legal proceedings of a student due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Do you expect administration to ignore this for your interviews? Please practice more responsible reporting in regard to this issue.