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Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
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Journalism department addressing concerns

Ryan Johnson's column ("Journalism faces tough decisions") about 12 seniors who could not get journalism classes needed to graduate was at best naive and at worst callous.

Lifting enrollment caps in writing classes, decreasing requirements in the major, and eschewing accreditation that ensures high standards would do nothing more than give students an inferior education for their money.

I am compelled to correct the record on several misrepresentations in Johnson's column.

It is doubtful that any journalism staff or faculty would agree that accreditation is "trivial" and has "no practical affect (sic)" on students. By meeting the norms established by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, we guarantee students will receive an education that meets rigorous criteria, including a relevant curriculum, updated computing equipment, high-level instruction that emphasizes professional standards and commitment to diversity.

Deleting required courses and increasing class sizes - as Johnson suggests - would do nothing more than provide students with an assembly-line education.

Journalism is not alone at the UA in the challenge to graduate students in four years. A good story in journalism is one that puts facts in context. Perhaps Johnson and the Wildcat could look at which departments have the worst records graduating students on time, not just journalism. Then, instead of suggesting they weaken their programs, discover why those programs lack the necessary resources.

Johnson also writes that journalism has alternately "ignored the problem" and "whined" for more money. Journalism has worked for years to strengthen admissions criteria. The department was barred from instituting a minimum GPA, though we established minimum grades in freshman English and in beginning journalism courses. Despite those measures, our enrollment doubled in five years, from 316 majors in 2000 to 633 in 2005. We are again instituting additional enrollment controls.

While journalism's increasing student enrollment and limited faculty have led to a heavy reliance on adjunct instructors, we take pride in the relevant professional experience our adjuncts bring to the classroom. This compares favorably, perhaps, with other UA departments that rely largely on graduate teaching assistants.

To correct the record, Arizona State University's program did not lose accreditation. An early recommendation that the program have provisional status was rejected by the accrediting council. The Cronkite School is fully accredited.

Perhaps if Johnson studied journalism he might not play fast and loose with the facts.

While some students may want simply to buy a degree, with no concern about the quality and rigor of their education, that is not the journalism department's mission, nor is that what serious journalism students want or deserve.

Susan Knight
journalism assistant professor of practice and faculty mentor

U.S. fighting a legal war that isn't 'unwinnable'

This is in response to Scott Patterson's column ("Fueling the Bush crazy train"). Patterson's view of the Middle East seems very ill-informed. First of all he says that the Bush administration illegally invaded Iraq. Congress actually voted to authorize the Iraq war, which means it was a legal action. I don't have a dictionary handy but I'm pretty sure legal is the opposite of illegal.

Secondly, he states that Israel usurped someone else's territory to form its own nation. What part of the history of Israel doesn't he understand? The fact that historically Jews were there first? The fact that the United Nations affirmed Israel's right to form and exist where it was? Or maybe it's that fact that many of the Arabs there actually moved there from somewhere else because the Jewish communities offered them better jobs and health care than their previous homes. Perhaps it's the fact that about 20 percent of Israel is made up of non-Jewish (mostly Arab) citizens with the exact same rights as everyone else in the country.

Perhaps most ridiculous of all are his claims are that Iran shouldn't call for Israel's destruction because it makes them look bad and that the U.S. is engaged in an "unwinnable war against terrorism." So you have no problem with the fact that the Iranian president is calling for a mass genocide, and just that it is not a good choice of wording for their nuclear ambitions? Your morals are commendable.

And as for the fact that you think the war against terrorism is not a winnable war, perhaps you feel that we should just simply surrender to worldwide Islamic extremism right now and save ourselves the trouble. I have some advice for you, Mr. Patterson: Educate yourself on the facts as much as you do on the propaganda.

Tom Mosby
psychology junior

Confederate flag symbolizes 'destruction'

In Wednesday's Mailbag section, the Wildcat published a letter from a Billy Bearden stating that the Confederate flag was this symbol depicting bravery and honor, instead of destruction and racism.

As a black in the U.S., with a grandmother who is half Choctaw Indian and black, I do consider the Confederate flag to be a symbol of racism. When listening and reading about hate crimes in the media, the flag that is often depicted is not the American flag, but the Confederate. The two men responsible for the dragging and murder of James Byrd Jr. in Texas had the Confederate flag raised high on their truck.

The Confederate flag is an eternal symbol of slavery in America, and the United Confederate Veterans and Sons of Confederate Veterans that Bearden praises so much is a more politically correct way of saying the KKK. Yes, the CBF fought for what they believed in, but what they believed in was enslaving millions of African men, women and children and treating them like animals on a farm.

But what I would like to know is, since when is fighting to enslave another people honorable and brave? Was Hitler an honorable man for enslaving millions of Jews during the Holocaust because that is what he believed? I do not think so.

As for Bearden's listing several ethnic groups who participated in the war, and who fought for (not with) the CBF as an integrated unit, what he failed to mention was that those groups did not fight because they wanted to, but because they were forced. If a man with a gun threatened to kill you and your family if you did not fight for his army, wouldn't you?

What I would like to know is how many blacks and American Indians did Bearden speak to before he wrote this letter. Because if he had spoken to one on this campus, I doubt that he would have sent that letter in.

Maudree Callahan
religious studies sophomore

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