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Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
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Treatment of senators too cursory

This year's Associated Students of the University of Arizona senate has been the most productive, positive and motivated group of people I have ever had the opportunity of working with. With regards to Thursday's column, "What have your senators been doing for you?" there are several points I take issue with. I do not believe there is any way you can determine a letter grade for a semester's worth of work after talking to someone for only a few minutes. People who are a part of ASUA, or at least semifamiliar with the organization, know the sheer absurdness of the "grades" received by certain very deserving senators. For example, Ryan Erickson started working on CatsRIDDE last year as a senate aide and has continued his work with the program this year as a senator; any assertion that he has been "riding the coattails" of other senators is just not true. Instead of criticizing the senators, you should be thanking them for their selflessness and determination through this trying year in ASUA.

Ashley Eden
public administration senior
ASUA senator

Sexual harassment not akin to rape, molestation

This is in response to Alex Hoogasian's brief letter suggesting that Cade Bernsen should face chemical castration if found guilty of sexual harassment. This isn't Singapore, where extreme punishments are waged to make examples of people.

Here in America, our judicial system is constructed under the concept that the punishment should fit the crime (unless you're smoking weed). The idea of grouping Bernsen's alleged offense with those of the "worst sex offenders" is ridiculous. Someone who jaywalks isn't punished in the same way as someone who commits mass murder, because one crime is obviously worse. The same applies in this case.

There is a clear difference between the severity of punishments for sexual harassment and rape or child molestation. Blurring these lines is potentially dangerous and shows a great deal of ignorance.

Andrew Austin
media arts senior

Sharon not a "man of peace"

It is impossible for two well-informed people to argue over the history of Ariel Sharon for longer than five minutes. Ariel Sharon is a war criminal by definition. People who argue otherwise are either in denial or massively ignorant or have been heavily brainwashed.

Look at history. Sharon's career was built on his performance in the Israeli military. During that time, the Sabra and Shatila massacres took place with his support. Such massacres were carried out against innocent Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. And folks, that is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to war crimes facilitated by Sharon and his regime. The fact that the victims are Arab, not Israeli, shouldn't cause our pro-Israeli population here on campus to somehow forgive and forget such acts.

It must not be overlooked that Sharon's tactics have been to starve the general Palestinian population (who want nothing more than to live a decent life) of all rights as human beings. Israel has perfected the art of driving a selected population insane. Keeping the surrounding Arab population weak, dependent and in chaos is vital to Israel's survival in the 21st century.

Ariel Sharon might have done what needed to be done in order for him to succeed, but to relate him to anything that resembles peace demonstrates ignorance, denial, brainwashing or dishonesty. I am confident Ariel Sharon will secure a place right beside the late Yasser Arafat in the afterworld.

Kareem Hassounah
Communication junior

Marijuana should be decriminalized

Hurray for Melissa Mauzy's letter yesterday. I've been watching the daily Police Beat for two years now and I've been wondering the same thing. Marijuana, while illegal, is becoming more socially acceptable, and the war on this drug, which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds if not thousands of lives, has increased our federal prison population by over 600,000 for nonviolent drug offenses. The federal government should tax marijuana in the same way it taxes cigarettes and alcohol. Driving under the influence can still be a criminal violation. Making marijuana legal would reduce the amount of secondary contaminants in marijuana, which its users consume along with the plant. These dangerous secondary chemicals include fabric softener, oil and rubber, just to name a few. It's time marijuana is decriminalized and regulated.

Jared Hautamaki
second-year law student

Column understated senator's efforts

In Shurid Sen's recent column, "What have your senators been doing for you?" it seemed as though Ryan Erickson's efforts in regard to ASUA goals and functions had been understated. As Sen. Erickson's roommate, I get to see firsthand the sole attribute of this man which demonstrates his hard work and dedication: his eyes. Every night when he comes home - the nights he comes in before 1 a.m., anyway - I see him and his eyes are bloodshot from long meetings and relentless tasks pertaining to ASUA and the student government. I tell him he needs to get some rest, but Erickson quickly refutes my attempts to watch out for his health by jumping onto his computer to finish his remaining tasks or studies of the day. Even when Erickson finds the time to relax and socialize, he still talks about what needs to be done in the senate. Many times I find myself restraining my right hand, so as to not slap him senseless out of annoyance with student government tales. All the while, Erickson holds a cold drink in his hands, and can barely keep his eyes open, remaining the perfect poster child for Clear Eyes eye drops. I have never met a man in my life so dedicated and driven for a single purpose. I feel as though I am not giving all that I can because every day, Erickson works diligently, takes a 3- to 5-hour nap and wakes up the next morning to return to his duty of serving the UA. If this weren't enough, Erickson still finds the time to work a part-time job, go to class and study for tests, an effort that earned him a 4.0 grade point average last semester. Is this not what the student body of the UA wants - a man who will honor the commitment he swore to uphold when taking office as an ASUA senator?

Patrick McFarland
marketing junior

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