Letters to the Editor

Too much emphasis on Sept. 11 familiesTo the editors:

Although I have the greatest degree of sympathy for Ms. [Suzanne Torregrossa] Berger’s loss of her husband in the Sept. 11 tragedy, I consider it most inappropriate for Villanova University to select her as a guest speaker for a commencement. I state this as I am a former military person and there have been many former Villanova graduates who gave their lives to ensure the defense of this country who have gone unrecognized. To “honor” those whose lives were lost in an unfortunate act of terrorism, doing their everyday jobs, is secondary to those who willingly signed up to defend this country and subsequently periled in that role for all of us. If you need guest speakers, there are many Villanova families who have lost their sons and daughters in defense of this country who should be recognized instead of focusing on one day in which the majority of the public had no role other than being American citizens.

I think Villanova, and the entire country, has given too much significance to this one day…and I am personally appalled. I find it ludicrous that the typical Sept. 11 family, who suffered a personal loss just by its loved one going to his/her job, will receive about $1.5 million while the typical military family whose spouse perished in defense of this nation will receive $200,000 if lucky.

I ask Villanova to not again promote the personal impact of those affected by Sept. 11, but to recognize the contributions of those who truly served in defense of our great country.

Mert Dorgan ’78Commander, U.S. Navy (retired)

McCourt’s timing just fineTo the editors:

I am writing in response to the editorial in last week’s The Villanovan which vocalized the concern that although Villanova has been successful in bringing world-famous figures to campus for Parents Weekend, it has not brought “such luminaries…in May.” As the Ideas and Issues Coordinator for CAT, I would like to clarify some of the writers’ misconceptions.

Let’s begin with the idea that families do not have the time to attend lectures on Parents’ Weekend. This is belied by the editorial itself which states that more than 1,500 students and family members came to see Lech Walesa last year, and that a similar audience is expected for this year’s guest, Frank McCourt. In addition, Mr. McCourt’s lecture will begin at 8 p.m. so that students and their parents may dine either before or after the event.

Next, the editors suggest that Student Development and CAT have chosen the wrong occasion for Mr. McCourt to address the University community. While these groups organize the Parents’ Weekend lecture, they do not have any control over the speaker selected at graduation. With regard to our decision to host prominent speakers on Parents’ Weekend, we seek to offer a rare opportunity for parents and students to share an educational experience. Distinguished universities across the country plan similar events rather than give a title to an otherwise ordinary weekend with your parents. In addition, the entire campus community (including all four classes) and their families may enjoy Parents Weekend whereas graduation is attended exclusively by seniors and their relatives.

Student Development and CAT work hard to make Parents’ Weekend a special time for Villanova families. I hope that this letter clarifies that we made a great choice at the right time.

Gita P. GupteIdeas and Issues Coordinator, Campus Activities Team

Commencement speakers well-selectedTo the editors:

Regarding your editorial saying the University has settled for “mediocrity” in its recent commencement speakers, I heartily disagree. I found the last two years’ speakers to be excellent. You write that Stanford University President John L. Hennessy ’73 is a “virtual unknown,” and that Villanova’s invitation to Suzanne Berger ’85, who lost her husband in the World Trade Center on September 11th, signifies that the University was “unable to attract someone of higher caliber.”

Neither Hennessy nor Berger is a celebrity, of course, but fame is a poor criterion to use in choosing speakers, I think. Hennessy is an example of a Villanova graduate who has been a fabulous success at one of the world’s premier universities. His speech was plain-spoken, humorous, and interesting. Berger was and is a remarkable model for all Villanovans; I found her talk last May inspiring. Going back a few years, we had some commencement speakers (e.g. Katie Couric) who were famous television celebrities, but they had hardly distinguished themselves sufficiently to be worthy of the honor of delivering a commencement address at a major university. Much to her credit, Katie Couric hinted at this in her address.

I’m glad that, in selecting commencement speakers the last couple of years, the University leadership has had the courage to celebrate greatness…among Villanovans!

David M. BarrettAssociate Professor, Political Science

In defense of a free market economyTo the editors:

Mike Dolan’s assault on capitalism in his “How to make the world a better place” editorial was uniformed, misleading and dangerous. The point I would like to specifically address is how government regulation of the narcotics business infringes on the rights of its citizens and greatly bolsters organized crime.

Dolan worries that if the government did not paternalistically tell its citizens what substances they could and could not place into their bodies, harmful drugs would seep into all aspects of our culture. He pictures heroin attaining some type of ignominious ubiquity as it makes its way onto the shelves of our “local Genuardi’s.” Putting aside the fact that drugs are prevalent in our culture, he needn’t worry that drugs would somehow become more dangerous or pervasive when legalized. In surveys, high school students have noted that it is often easier to obtain marijuana (owing to a vast network of unscrupulous dealers) than it is to obtain alcohol.

Further, common sense dictates that if cocaine and heroin were legalized, hordes would not rush to become cocaine or heroin addicts. Those who want these substances now have access to them; perhaps if they were legalized, addicts wouldn’t be stealing our car stereos to pay the outrageous black market prices for these substances.

Dolan’s criticism of “economic freedom” as it pertains to drug use was not rational but sensationalistic. One who sincerely wants to make the world a “better place” would end the cruel and counterintuitive “War on Drugs”, which puts countless nonviolent young persons behind bars for “mandatory minimum” sentences and frees convicted rapists. The freedom to live your life as you please (so long as you don’t infringe on anyone else’s peaceable pursuit of the same) is a right, not a privilege. It’s time to get the government out of the business of legislating morality.

Joe HeenanPart-Time Student