Open for business

To the Editor:

Friday morning, protesters rallied on Walnut Street during Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to dedicate Huntsman Hall. However; they forgot one thing -- this is a university that doesn't close on Fridays or for vice presidential visits.

I proctored a master's comprehensive examination during their protest on the first floor of the Graduate School of Education across the street from the mayhem. Seven students who have spent two years in coursework leading up to this test were distracted by the screaming, drums and bull horn.

Although I wholeheartedly support the protesters' rights of assembly I think that basic consideration could have been a part of their plans. Had someone taken the time to inform the GSE of the protest location, I could have moved my exam to the library, but I was not given that opportunity. In the future, when planning protests, please keep in mind that there are people on this campus that have jobs to do and students who have their studies to move forward with.

Andrea King Division Coordinator, Graduate School of Education

Hearing from both sides

To the Editor:

The article about Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ("Exposing problems in India," The Daily Pennsylvanian, 10/22/02) unfortunately presents a one-sided view of organization and its activities. The filmmaker quoted, Lalit Vachani, is known for his bias against the RSS, and it was academically irresponsible on the part of the Annenberg School and the Center for the Advanced Study of India to put on such a presentation without inviting a response from the RSS.

In essence, the RSS has been painted as a fascist, Nazi thought-controlling, violent organization by Vachani, none of which is true. The purpose of the RSS is to instill values and a sense of service in those who go through its basic programs, so that they are willing to serve society. Many examples of this abound, including volunteering after natural disasters such as the 2001 earthquake in the state of Gujurat and the 1999 cyclone that hit Orissa, serving without prejudice both Hindus and members of minority cultures.

In fact, you can even see it in a few students here at Penn, whose enthusiasm for the volunteer activities they do stems from the fact that they went though programs organized by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization in the U.S. that was inspired by the RSS. I'm one of those students and I am certainly not a militant, much less a fascist or a Nazi.

I would urge those who attended the presentation and others in the Penn community to not just rely on the film and Vachani as their only source of information about the RSS. Take the time to look at sources that present the other side, and then make up your mind.

Rishi Bhudata Wharton '04

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