Is John Ashcroft running the University? Newman's Day is undeniably dumb, and may increase the danger of self-inflicted harm to a few, but seizing T-shirts was unwarranted. Provost Eisgruber's attempt to justify it as a "...last resort, taken only under the most compelling circumstances" is ludicrous.
There is no compelling evidence that without the T-shirts, students would have been unaware of Newman's Day and would have lacked the motivation to drink.
President Tilghman's characterization of them as targeted imminent harm is an attempt to put T-shirts (and free speech) in the same category as a ticking bomb or a hijacked airliner.
Students who are inclined to drink to excess will find an excuse without T-shirts — they've been doing it since before Paul Newman was born and before beer came in cases.
Stanley Kalemaris '64
P .S. To Mr. Melzer: You're right on both counts. The president's and provost's attempt to characterize T-shirts as "imminent harm" and "most compelling circumstances" trivialize the real dangers facing individuals and the nation and show an appalling lack of understanding the causes of excessive drinking. The seizures were unnecessary, counter-productive and a flagrant violation of student rights.
It seems that there's something rotten in West College these days. Two
events at the end of April unmasked a worrisome trend away from a basic
respect towards students' rights and towards heavy-handed, monolithic
rule-making. Deans Malkiel and Deignan have apparently forgotten that
their jobs exist only as a corollary to the students at the University.
Dean Malkiel's desire to push through the "grade inflation"
proposal with as much secrecy as possible is a clear smack in the face
to the student body, who is the only group actually affected by the proposal
(it's no skin off the faculty's back, except insofar as it restricts their
freedom and integrity in grading). Perhaps more worrisome is Dean Deignan's
decision to deploy Public Safety officers to a student residence to confiscate
perfectly legal t-shirts that happen to advocate/advertise/reference something
that she opposes. Regardless of any message contained on these t-shirts,
they were not contraband. Dean Deignan's decision was irresponsible and
likely illegal and her refusal to deal with this issue quickly by avoiding
the students involved is nothing more than a childish diversionary tactic.
Perhaps members of the administration can use the upcoming summer break
to remind themselves that they are there to provide for a positive and
safe atmosphere for the students and not to trample on student rights
however they choose, no matter how serious the problem of grade inflation
may be (the jury's still out) and the problem of alcohol abuse is.
*Non illegitimi carborundum*
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