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UA isn't afraid of political issues

To the Editor:

Regarding "Stepping up to the soapbox" (3/20/08), the Undergraduate Assembly shouldn't shy away from politically charged issues that directly affect Penn students, and I absolutely agree with Adam Goodman.

In fact, the UA has regularly tackled politically charged issues over recent years, including environmental sustainability, workers' rights regarding Allied Barton guards, affirmative action, gender neutral housing and most recently, the University's non-discrimination policy as it relates to the FDA's lifetime ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men.

As a result, the UA has ensured that University administration improve the working conditions for Allied Barton guards (e.g., 40th Street DPS Annex) and critically evaluate (with its lawyers) the implications of the FDA's ban on the University's non-discrimination policy.

Regardless of one's personal beliefs on these issues, the UA has unquestionably played a decisive role in addressing issues of paramount (and political) concern to students.

I am disappointed that Goodman mischaracterizes the UA's efforts to represent and address the vast and diverse array of issues that concern the student body. To cherry-pick the Finkelstein proposal as an example of "shy[ing] away" from a political stance without highlighting its very unique and atypical circumstances is unfortunately a gross misrepresentation of the UA's utmost commitment to serving the needs and interests of undergraduates. As I wrote on The Spin, "the UA meeting is positively a place for free speech and open discussion."

I encourage anyone interested in learning about the Finkelstein proposal and the UA's politically charged history to contact me.

Wilson Tong The author is a College and Wharton junior and Vice Chair of External Affairs of the Undergraduate Assembly Limiting solicitation

To the Editor:

I'm a huge proponent of civic duty who believes citizens should take advantage of the voting rights granted to them; however, the criticisms laid out by Mr. Kanter ("Closing the Door on Political Activism" 3/5/08) of Penn's policies are unwarranted.

It is true that historically, voter turnout for young voters has been discouragingly low. Offering voter registration forms and poll locations on university campuses thus effectively seeks to improve both registration and turnout for this age group. This shouldn't, however, extend to door-to-door solicitations.

Regardless of their on-campus locations, Penn's College Houses are still students' private residences. The college houses are University-sponsored, but this does not imply that they are open for solicitation by campus organizations. Yes, the dedication to supporting the political process is admirable. But there are also students on campus who hold little to no interest in the American political process.

Dr. Pellicone is correct in saying that a door-to-door registration drive is indeed solicitation forbidden by the College House residential handbook.

Regardless of the good intentions or motivation for these door-to-door visits, they are still just that - door-to-door solicitations. That is not to say that the College Houses are discouraging voter registration. Dr. Pellicone has approved of making voter registration forms available in Harrison College House's public areas. He has also distributed registration forms to the building's RA's and GA's and has posted signs on every floor encouraging voter registration.

Yes, sometimes it may seem that the University's policies are working against groups, but the school does still promote extracurricular involvement and voter registration. We must realize that there are limits on to what extent student groups can interfere in the lives of other students - who often couldn't care less about that group's cause.

Euhana Ossi College sophomore

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