Letters to the Editor

Increase choices for Interterm

Nothing is more depressing than the lonely, cold Amherst campus during the January Interterm. Most students who live in warm places such as California, Florida or Hawaii stay home to take a break from “soy sauce” and ice, while others go home to take advantage of the couch, normal food and good-looking people. The only people remaining on campus are thesis-writing hermits, athletes and the few people who find an interesting research project or class.

During student body elections, I noticed that many of the candidates wanted to improve Interterm. Looking at a candidate’s graph that compared the number of classes offered at Amherst during Interterm with the number offered at schools like Williams, UMass and Hampshire, I realized how inferior our program is. Besides taking classes, the only other educationally productive way to spend these four weeks is to get an internship. However, these internships are extremely difficult to find because most internship programs require longer than four weeks, and are therefore usually only offered during the summer. Due to the lack of off-campus programs, Amherst needs to offer more for students during January.

At other small colleges like Washington and Lee, they have a spring term where students devote one month in the spring to focus on one or two classes. The students get partial credit for these classes and also get to orient this time around one particular area of interest. This idea could be incorporated into the Amherst Interterm-a person might want to take an extra class for their major, or try taking a class that wouldn’t normally fit into their schedule like physical education or art. Another suggestion for Interterm is for the College to offer mini study abroad programs; for example, an art history professor from Amherst and an Italian language professor from UMass could organize a trip to Italy with a group of students from the five colleges. This would not only be an opportunity to visit and learn in another country, but also a way to meet other students in the area with similar academic interests.

We are very lucky to have this time to pursue our personal goals and curiosities; however, Interterm needs to have more options. The first step towards improvement is to offer more classes and more variety.

Ashley Arana ’07

Exaggerations inhibit debate

Exaggerations inhibit debate

With the March for Women’s Lives and the candlelight vigil last week, it is no surprise that the paper was littered with articles concerning abortion. I write as a conservative male who is having great difficulty making up his mind on the issue. I consider myself middle-of-the-road, in that I find legitimate points made by both sides. Anyone who tells you that abortion is cut and dry is either a liar or just ignorant, and when I read some of the outrageous statements like those in Emily Silberstein ’06’s piece on the March, I couldn’t help but respond.

I understand that exaggeration makes for interesting reading, but it does little to make a convincing argument. The ominous prediction that “without the protection of these [reproductive] rights, millions of women will die each year,” is simply ludicrous. In 2001, the big five (heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory disease and accidents) accounted for 1.6 million American deaths (that’s for both sexes), with 2.4 million total deaths that year. I understand that the issue of reproductive rights will profoundly impact the lives of women, but do not terrorize me with overblown statistics.

The article also derides the sponsors of the recent candlelight vigil, stating that they “drastically oversimplify the issues that encompass the abortion debate.” However, Silberstein is guilty of the same offense. The article states authoritatively, “a fetus is just that, a fetus, and not a child.” The implication behind this statement is problematic in that it makes the definition of life contingent upon one’s surrounding environment. I would hope that I am Grant Mandsager both inside and outside, upside and downside, in the rain or on a train �

Children-not fetuses, but children-have been removed from the womb by Caesarean section at six months and survived. This is at the threshold of the third trimester that falls under the aegis of late-term abortion. Are we to believe that until a human being takes its first breath it is no different from an appendix? It is easy to say, “a fetus is not a child” or “abortion is murder,” but neither makes any progress in probing the complexity of the abortion debate. We are the most intelligent students in the country; we should be able to discuss this issue rather than simply shout from our respective sides of the aisle.

Grant Mandsager ’04

Help prevent Juarez murders

Help prevent Juarez murders

Since 1993, over 370 women have been brutally murdered just minutes away from the United States border in Juarez, Mexico. Hundreds more are missing. Women aged 15-19 are slowly disappearing. Their brutally beaten bodies are found weeks, even months after their disappearance, often with ritualistic carvings in their backs. All of the women are thin, dark-skinned and poor.

Government officials have linked 93 of the murders as serial killings, yet not a single crime has been accurately solved. Despite the U.S.’s corporate ties to the disappearances, little has been done on either side of the border to solve the crimes that have already been committed, or to prevent future murders from taking place.

Approximately two-thirds of the missing women worked in maquiladoras, large factories which, under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), can import goods without paying tariffs, as long as the goods will eventually be re-exported. Companies seeking cheap labor establish maquiladoras in developing nations to escape unions and workers’ rights regulations mandated in the U.S.

Of the 2,500 maquiladoras on the US-Mexican border, 1,800 of them are owned by Americans, 300 of these in Juarez alone. For instance, 80 Fortune 500 companies have maquiladoras in Juarez, including General Electric and Ford. With such close ties to the maquiladoras, it is impossible to deny that the U.S. must take at least partial responsibility for the deaths of the women of Juarez. Yet the U.S. government is reluctant to become involved with the situation.

The maquiladoras hire women almost exclusively, largely because women are less likely to be unionized, and are less prone to make demands concerning their rights.

Still, the women of Juarez have a voice. This Saturday, May 1, a group of five-college students along with members of the Amherst community will partake in a die-in on the common in front of Converse Hall. At 12:30 p.m., 370 women dressed in black will “die” next to 370 pink crosses (the symbol for the women of Juarez) to raise awareness about the situation in Juarez as well as Resolution 466, a bi-partisan Congressional resolution that urges the Mexican government to take action regarding the deaths.

I encourage all students to attend the event. For more information or to sign up to participate in the die-in, please feel free to contact [email protected].

Scout Durwood ’06

Thanks from admissions

Thanks from admissions

On behalf of the entire admission staff, I want to thank all members of the community who assisted the Admission Office in hosting a record number of accepted students and family members during our Open House April 17�19. The success of this annual event is highly dependent on the support of members of all factions of the Amherst community, and I am grateful for the enthusiasm and commitment so many people offered to the program. We look forward to your continued support as we commence our work with prospective members of the Class of 2009!

Katie Fretwell

Director of Admission