In response to the letter on Feb. 6 concerning the use of University of Arizona funds for guests lecturers such as Cornel West, we would like to address a few key issues. It is hard to believe that anyone who attended Dr. West's lecture could question the lasting value it had on the collective Tucson community. In addition, considering the well-publicized race-related incidents that have plagued the university community as of late, Dr. West could not have come at a better time.
There is nothing at all ironic about the donation of Dr. West's $12,000 fee toward an inner-city scholarship fund. Considering the number of university organizations that pulled together to make this lecture possible - Department of Humanities, Department of African American Studies, CCLS, Office of the Provost and ASUA just to name a few - it is unrealistic to think this money would have been allocated for student financial support in any other way. The complaint concerning the under-funding of the escor t service should be directed toward ASUA alone, seeing as allocation of funds for that service falls under the purview of that department. As far as needy students are concerned, there is $3 million annually in public and private aid that goes unclaimed.
The UA is an integral part of the Tucson community as a whole, of which many members attended Dr. West's lecture (some even brought their children along). A poll of UA students identified Dr. West as one of the more sought-after members of the academic co mmunity. Students felt his views have the power to influence on a level that transcends ethnic and economic stereotypes. As far as picking up one of Dr. West's books for enlightenment, the value of having over 1000 community members come together over suc h critical social issues is far more effective at creating solidarity and catalyzing social change. A $12 hardcover is in no way comparable with the value of live speech, nor the voices that pass the messages on to others. The mission of the UA is not onl y to foster education, but to create social awareness and provide multiple perspectives on the crucial issues that affect us all. The university organizations that pull together to help provide these perspectives deserve the credit and support received.
Sheila J. Hoyt