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Penn isn't biased

To the Editor:

I must admit that I don't fully understand David Back's comment on free speech.

If his concern is that Penn is politically biased in its choice of high-profile speakers, I would remind him that Karl Rove, Bill Clinton and Senator John McCain have all spoken this academic year. While we haven't hosted any winners of the Mussolini Medal of Honor, Penn's speakers are hardly a homogeneous bunch.

Worried that Angela Davis' presence was a "sign of something wrong," Mr. Back also staged a public ad hominen attack in the guise of defending free speech.

I am sure that at least a few Penn students find Mr. Rove's views more offensive than those presented by Professor Davis. SPEC and other Penn resources, committed to bringing diverse speakers, appropriately funded both programs. This seems to be the true spirit of academic free speech.

Mr. Back decries Penn's lack of "a truly free exchange of ideas," yet does not point to a single recent instance where Penn refused to fund a conservative speaker or discouraged a 'politically incorrect' event. If groups at Penn favor liberal speakers, this reflects just the very free expression of ideas that Mr. Back professes to support.

Joshua Matz College senior Don't insult Davis

To the Editor:

As a black freshman I was taken aback by the Guest Column that appeared on Wednesday. Angela Davis has committed her life to furthering the cause of black people across the diaspora, challenging our inherent status as second-class citizens in a racially-centered society.

Considering that the work of Ms. Davis was extremely important in the equal-rights movement, I am angered when anyone compares her to extremists who continually challenge the rights of minority groups.

No Neo-Nazi has ever helped the cause of humanity, but Angela Davis has. Not only did she further black pride in her work as a member of the Black Panthers, but her challenge of the prison industrial complex is also necessary as African Americans continue to be arrested and jailed at disproportionate rates. I found her speech incredibly moving, and I strive to emulate her passion in my on-campus efforts as the political co-chair of UMOJA, as well as my future goals as an activist for the African Diaspora.

In short, to suggest we limit the voice of one of the greatest advocates for blacks, women, and other minorities is only an example of ignorance.

Ryan Jobson College Freshman Accessible president

To the Editor:

For the students polled for Adam Goodman's article ("Four more years for Gutmann?") I have one question: Where have you been?

We have all seen President Gutmann at major events around campus - celebrating Hanukkah at Hillel, cheering on participants of the Fox Leadership Program New Orleans project and attending games at the Palestra. But in addition to her attendance at major events, she specifically invites students to have lunch in College Hall, where she can speak with them in a more intimate setting and discuss any and all concerns.

Does she also fundraise? Does she travel internationally to attend other events? Yes. But in the end, Amy Gutmann is fighting for us. For those who polled that she was "unimpressive" or "not sure," I suggest that you simply walk into her office or send her an e-mail - you will be surprised by two things: (1) how hard she works for us and (2) how accessible she really is.

Adam Hanover College sophomore Keep gyms open for all

To the Editor:

The University would severely undermine students' rights by barring males from Pottruck Gym at certain times to accommodate Muslim women ("No boys allowed?", 2/27/08).

The free exercise of religion on Penn's campus should not include permission to infringe upon other students' rights.

Restricting males' use of the gym is a blatant violation of the University's non-discrimination policy, which states that Penn "does not discriminate on the basis of . gender identity . in the administration of educational policies, programs or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan awards; athletic or other University administered programs or employment."

All students at Penn pay recreation fees for the use of athletic facilities; their access to these facilities should not be denied in the name of political correctness.

Scott Kahn College Senior Recognizing both professors

To the Editor:

Thanks for the great story by Roger Weber about the engineering course being taught with Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy.

Sadly, the article failed to mention that there are two instructors for the course (both were interviewed by the reporter and both are listed on the syllabus), Jean Griffin and Catherine Stocker, and both have worked very hard to make this course function.

I would hate to give the impression to either the Penn students or to the high-school students involved in this course that both instructors are not deeply dedicated to this course! They are!

Amy Calhoun The author is associate director of Penn's Digital Media Design program

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