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Letters from alumni about the T-shirt seizure

June 12, 2004

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
Melville, N.Y.

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.

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April 27, 2004

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.
Marc Aaron Melzer '02
Philadelphia, Pa.

*Non illegitimi carborundum*
"History has consequences, but it need have no permanent franchise on the future." - Prof. John Fleming (Daily Princetonian, 10/24/02

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