Letters to the Editor

ULV Athens

Dear Editor,

As a student (M.Ed.) and an employee (Admissions Advisor) of the ULV Athens Campus, I read your paper’s articles concerning ULV’s closing of its Athens Campus with interest. I would like to express my point of view on the matter with the hope that the ULV community will understand more completely the affair. The issue, I think, is a matter of responsibility. The University of La Verne’s administration has presented matters in a way that absolve it of any responsibility for the tremendous difficulty endured by the students, faculty and staff at the ULV Athens Campus.

The University of La Verne’s administration in California is clearly responsible for any of the problems that materialized in Athens. The University of La Verne’s constituents should know what some of the key facts of the situation were. First, and most importantly, the main executive and administrative officers of the ULV Athens Campus were all directly employed by the University of La Verne. This is a fact that is stipulated in the contract between ULV California and the “Somateo Collegio La Verne” (full title of the legal entity in Greece). Pursuant to this contract, the chief executive officer, the academic dean and the admissions/marketing director were all appointed and paid by the California Campus. This fact begs the question about who was really making the decisions at ULV Athens.

The University of La Verne community should be aware about the history of ULV Athens. The University of La Verne began operations in Greece in 1975 in order to serve two U.S. military bases that were located in Athens. By the late 1980s/early 1990s the bases ceased operation. The University of La Verne chose to continue its presence in Greece following the bases’ closure. It was able to do this through an arrangement where a legal Greek entity (‘Somateo Collegio La Verne”) would act as ULV’s agent/partner in Greece and offer its educational programs to students in Athens under the administration of ULV California employees. These employees included Craig Sexson (President of ULV Athens), Jeff Nonemaker (Academic Dean) and Rehavia Yakovee (Director of Admissions). Jeff Nonemaker and Rehavia Yakovee continue to be employed in Athens as ULV’s representatives. Hence, passing responsibility for the mess to the Somateo is clearly outrageous.

It was peculiar to read Lori Gordien’s statement about ULV’s “responsibility to make sure the Somateo was financially viable to deliver academic programs,” (“Athens campus closes abruptly,” Sept. 24) given that ULV should have been directly aware of the Athens Campus’ financial situation long before it reached the stage that Ms. Gordien claims it reached. Charles Bentley’s comment about annual financial reviews being sent in Greek, and thereby being difficult to understand, is peculiar. None of the aforementioned administrative officers, Sexson, Nonemaker or Yakovee, were proficient in Greek. Why would ULV Athens send the annual financial report in Greek? Equally unsettling is Mr. Bentley’s point about the difficulty in translating a document in Greek given that ULV should have really been interested in the contents of such a document and their effort to come to terms with its contents should have been more thorough. A Greek Consulate exists in Los Angeles with the ability to officially translate any document/s from Greek into English. But, as mentioned before, this was probably not the case since the ULV Athens Campus’ administration was likely to communicate with California in English.

The timing of the decision to close the Athens Campus is particularly problematic. If ULV California was concerned with Athens’ financial situation for some time, as is evident by the pronouncements of some its administrative officers, then one must wonder why it took ULV California so long to completely come to terms with the facts that led the administration in California to decide to close the campus the weekend before the beginning of the semester. Is this indicative of a proactive and responsible attitude towards students, faculty and staff? Furthermore, ULV has already spent, and probably will continue to spend a great deal of money to bring closure to the matter. Wouldn’t this money have been better spent to continue the operation of the Athens Campus for at least one semester, which would have allowed students, faculty and staff to gain their bearings and avoid some of the anguish?

In sum, the University of La Verne should not be quick to avoid accepting responsibility for the debacle in Athens. Hundreds of students are still in despair and up in the air about the continuation of their degree programs including myself. Approximately 100 faculty and staff were left without employment and severance pay. Is this responsible and caring? I think not.

Constantine Tourlos
Athens, Greece

Post-Election Reaction

Dear Editor,

Because Robert Burns in his response (“Letters to the Editor,” Nov. 19) to my post-election letter to the editor (Nov. 12) assumes that it was written by all those whose names appeared under it, let me first exculpate the colleagues who supported my letter from any part of its actual composition. Although those colleagues must share the blame of consenting to what Robert Burns refers to as my “muddled thoughts,” to me and me alone belong “the mangled grammar and syntax,…and mangled prose.” To my shame, no doubt, I remain content with both the ideas and style I used to express them, including sentence fragments and constructing what Roberts Burns refers to as my “hilarious excess of self-dramatizing piety” with egregiously overused conjunctive elements. For me these elements connected my thoughts like so many sutures for the wounds I feel as a citizen of this country today.

My “excess” of feelings pours out of a sense that I cannot now be silent about where we find ourselves, for we live in times in which the human community itself is tragically fragmented and the very syntax of our lives as U.S. citizens is mangled. When this Administration arrogates to itself the doctrine of preventative war (read wars of naked aggression), treats the Geneva Conventions with cavalier disregard, and when we witness our replication of the hell of Saddam’s Abu Ghraib, the pollution of Iraq with toxic dust from tons of our depleted uranium coated shells while condemning the enemy for its WMDs, our destruction of Falluja in order to save it (killing hundreds of civilians in the process), the loss of over 1,200 U.S. soldiers with more than 9,000 wounded, as well as the deaths of untold thousands of others including civilians, men, women, and children – in the face of this how can one be silent?

I am delighted that Robert Burns refers to Buddha as an “old chum.” (How much I would hope to be worthy of such friendship!) To this chum I add the name of another, and, for me personally, even older one, Jesus, who (forgive one more piety!) calls on us to love our enemies and return good for injury. The default mode of violence and militarism for our ills is a dead end; ultimately, the U.S., no more than its enemies, can slaughter its way to peace and security. Violence creates, at best, only a fragile negative peace, and, at worst,the law of the jungle, the ethic of “might makes right,” the politics of the latest outrage.

Finally, I agree with Robert Burns that it is important to create a climate that encourages the expression of the many divergent views of our students and faculty and staff. As part of this expression, I want to thank the Campus Times for making this exchange of letters possible.

Steve Kinzie
Assistant Director of the Learning Enhancement Center
Adjunct Professor of Peace Studies

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to Robert Burns’s letter in the Nov. 19 issue of the Campus Times. His letter was in response to a letter by Steve Kinzie et al. on the election and the work for peace, justice, and community-building waiting to be done (“Letters to the Editor,” Nov. 12). Normally I would not dignify this kind of a letter with a response, but as an educator I am concerned with the message Burns’s letter sends to students. His letter was personal, childish, hysterical and mean spirited. Faculty should be promoting a healthy and open exchange of ideas. Unfortunately, what Burns demonstrated was the way to kill debate. (Ironically, he may have done more harm to his position than to Kinzie’s.) One final note. Burns ends his vitriol with the suggestion that students critical of the Bush Administration are not proud of America. Love of one’s country and patriotism are expressed in many ways. Constructive criticism is one such expression.

Hector L. Delgado
Associate Professor of Sociology

Dear Editor,

ULV Education Professor Robert Burns wants me to feel embarrassed by a letter submitted recently to the editor of the Campus Times. In the Nov. 12 issue, faculty member Steve Kinzie wrote a letter lamenting the outcome of the Bush/Kerry race. Burns was critical of Kinzie, in part, because Kinzie’s letter had “mangled grammar and syntax” that were “on display for our students’ analysis [and] should be a matter of profound embarrassment for any faculty member.”

I took another look at Kinzie’s letter. Burns had a point. If you’re reading Kinzie’s letter with a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style on your desk, you might be dismayed. Of course, Kinzie wasn’t shooting for an A in English 101 when he wrote his letter. It was pretty obvious—except to suddenly awakened grammar literalists like Burns—that he was exercising poetic license. (Frankly, I think Burns knew this, but wanted to trounce Kinzie’s wobbly prose just for the fun of it.)

But I wasn’t embarrassed by Kinzie’s letter as much as I was by Burns’ reply to it the next week (Nov. 19, 2004). Kinzie may have been guilty of loopy grammar, but Burns was guilty of far worse. Like a schoolyard bully kicking a kid when he’s down (Burns is a Bush fan), Burns unleashed a vitriolic screed long on venom and short on basic respect and decency—principles I’ve long associated with ULV.

It was also short on logic. In one paragraph, Burns sneers at ideals such as diversity and non-judgmental multiculturalism. In the next, he claims to “value all of our students: gay, conservative, heterosexual, liberal and all others!” As proof of this, he says he has posted on his office door a photograph of Oliver North. As you may recall, North—informed by his own twisted notion of patriotism—lied to Congress while testifying during the Iran-Contra scandal. I can’t help wondering who else’s picture he’s got on his door. Maybe Joseph McCarthy. Maybe one of the Watergate burglars or some other champion of democracy.

Kinzie may need to clean up his grammar. But if Burns thinks his petulant diatribe is a reflection of the values and principles ULV holds dear, he needs to clean up his act.

Randy Miller
Adjunct Professor of Journalism

Dear Editor,

Would someone please remove the exclamation point from Robert Burns’ keyboard? An exclamation point denotes that you are yelling at your reader. Stop yelling at me, Mr. Burns.

Matt Paulson
Senior

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Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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