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Up Front May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

Letters to the Editor

INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY
While I enjoyed the interview with “Piano-Playing Provost” Lytle, I was disappointed in his response to your question about diversity.

In focusing on ethnic, social, cultural and class diversity in the student body, Provost Lytle ignores one of the largest problems at UCSD: the shocking lack of intellectual diversity amongst the faculty. As study after study demonstrates, our major universities, including UC, are overwhelmingly tilted towards one political outlook. One of the most recent studies, by economist Daniel Klein, demonstrates that this enormous bias extends across all departments, not just the social sciences. How would Provost Lytle change the hiring practices of UCSD to encourage intellectual diversity?
Chris Cardiff, Revelle, ’79

Dear Chris Cardiff:
The first 40 years of the UC San Diego campus can be characterized as a push to emulate the academic excellence of older, more historic, universities in the nation. That quest has come at some cost. We have not paid enough attention to building the necessary relationships and instruments to help youngsters from disadvantaged low-income communities share in the benefits of a UC education. This was the concern I was addressing in my remarks to the editor.

It would be more helpful if you were more direct in your query. By referencing economist Daniel Klein, you appear to be more concerned about the political diversity of the faculty. The little bit I know about Klein’s work indicates that he supports a strict conservative Libertarian outlook in public and political affairs. I suspect, therefore, that you share his animus for intellectuals who do not agree with him.

I hope, however, you would agree that the demographic projections for the state of California, if uncorrected through the processes of public education, bode ill for the future economy and social tranquility of the state.
Professor Cecil Lytle, Provost,
Thurgood Marshall College

STEM CELLS
While the article “Stem Cell Revolution” notes that there are differing points of view on the issue of embryonic stem cell research, it is primarily an endorsement of such research.
As noted in the article, embryonic stem cell research destroys human embryos. In contrast, research with adult stem cells does not terminate human life. The article does not mention the fact that the success stories to date—such as the paralyzed woman who was able to walk again—relate to research with adult stem cells, not embryonic stem cell research.

It should not surprise me that a UCSD publication endorses a position contrary to the preservation of life. When I was an undergraduate at UCSD the climate was extremely hostile to those of us who sought to uphold human life. I was one of approximately 50 students on the various University of California campuses who joined together to sue the Regents of the University seeking an opt-out provision from the mandatory student activity fee, a portion of which was used, directly or indirectly for abortions. It is shameful that the University ran roughshod over our views.

It is time for UCSD to take a new look at the value of human life. Let us not sacrifice our society’s most vulnerable and defenseless members upon the altar of research.
Anne Fox Downey, Warren, ’79

I was very disappointed to read in @UCSD magazine about stem cell research, because I respect human life. I think it is unfortunate that the school’s financial and technical success should depend so heavily these days on human embryos. In years past, much of the research budget was from NASA and defense related projects.

In any case, a school like UCSD has an obligation to expose students to all aspects of controversial issues, whether they relate to science, ethics, religion or politics. It is still a really great school and environment.
Timothy J. Carsola, Revelle, ’71, M.A. ’74

The article entitled “Stem Cell Revolution” deserves comment given the one-sided nature of the comments from those interviewed in the article. Dr. Holmes indicated that
“irrespective of the side the argument you might be on, it’s an important philosophical discussion—one that needs to be done in public, and in a rational way.” That is excellent advice, but Dr. Holmes should follow his own advice. Earlier in the article he talks about the promising field of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) and says, “we’re not talking about cloning human beings but about therapeutic cloning: establishing a cell line that is very individualized.” C’mon doc—a cloned embryo is a human being in the embryonic stage. An embryo is a living, whole, human organism (a human being) in the embryonic stage. All the embryo needs to live is a proper environment and adequate nutrition, the very same thing that all infants, toddlers, adolescents, and adults need. SCNT certainly isn’t “therapeutic” for the embryo.

Professor Goldstein is advised to look at that scientific definition (the facts—not an ideology) of an embryo before he pops off about people that “interfere with an area of science based on a narrow ideological view.” He wasn’t above his own form of moralizing as he stood before the senate and motioned toward Christopher Reeve. That is totally fair, but prior to denigrating those who hold a different view, please clarify your own moral logic. Myself, and many others, are not opposed to stem cell research, unless of course it kills an innocent human being. Of course, that statement begs the question since scientists can only derive human embryonic stem cells by killing a human embryo. In contrast, ASCR is a very promising field and it doesn’t kill human beings.

Even if you’re a Peter Singer type, who can wax on about how we should kill babies, much less an embryo, the financial aspects of Prop 71 were enough to send many Californians to the Vote No box.

The article was a puff piece. Next time, please find the counter point guy who can at least give the other side.
David Poe, Revelle, ’80

Porn and Fox News
Having advanced from an institution that places such a high value on the critical thinking skills of its graduates, it disappoints and saddens me to see so much outrage directed at a tiny, closed-circuit outlet like SRTV for a single indiscretion, yet no attention whatsoever is paid to the missteps and journalistic liberties taken on a daily basis by a nation-wide conglomerate (Fox) and
its affiliates in advancing their conservative agenda. SRTV is at least only accessible by UCSD students—adults—who, if they find the programming to be offensive, uninteresting, or otherwise, have the power to: (1) change the channel, (2) turn off the TV, or (3) request a refund of the self-assessed fees that comprise SRTV’s budget. Despite my requests, my cable company is unwilling to refund the portion of my monthly bill that allows me to receive Fox News; so, in protest I must resort to the less glamorous options (1) and (2) above.

While I find the actions of student Steven York to be inappropriate (not to mention smacking of opportunism, blatant self-promotion and idiocy), I find the concern expressed by graduates Lipp-Malawey and Roberson in your last issue to be comical. The incident was little more than a prank—a staple of college life and experience that is sorely lacking at UCSD—that was blown hugely out of proportion by ultra-conservative blowhards—Bill O’Reilly and Fox News—who conveniently “implied” that state funds were being used to broadcast pornography, despite the fact that SRTV receives no government funding at all.

Although I find York’s actions stupid and reprehensible, I fear not for UCSD’s reputation. Indeed, anything that places myself by way of association at the opposite end of an argument from a zealot like O’Reilly makes me truly “Proud to Be UCSD.”
Josh Hoffman, Muir, ’02

Feel the need to wax eloquent or spout off? Write to us at:
alumnieditor@ucsd.edu.


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