Letters to the Editor (March 6)

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March 6, 2007

7:58 PM

**President Nichol’s column**

p. To the Editor:
I would like to commend President Nichol for his editorial in last Friday’s newspaper. His self-effacing, yet emboldened words come as welcome relief in the face of such spiteful rhetoric from alumni and those outside of the College’s community. Nothing could speak more volumes towards his courage and strong character.

p. **__— Pretlow Moring ’08__**

**Shoe protest unclear**

p. To the Editor:
I’m not a vocal proponent or detractor of the War in Iraq, but since I got an e-mail about protests against “the War,” I thought I’d take the opportunity to respond.

p. I respect that you (the person who sent me the e-mail) made the shoe exhibition a neutral event, as this war has been politicized enough. I also applaud the overall effort because I think few people have a real sense of the suffering, since few are inconvenienced by the war at all. As the son of a U.S. soldier who has served in Iraq and having personally worked closely with Marines who have served in “the sandbox,” I find that the politicization of the war, and the lack of cognizance among many Americans of the struggle “over there,” has a deleterious effect on the service and sacrifice of our armed forces.

p. While I think the shoe exhibition sends a poignant message that needs to be made, my criticism has to do with the student strike occurring in conjunction with the exhibition. First, I think you should clarify your message. Are you protesting U.S. involvement in the Iraq War, or just that violence is occurring there in general?

p. The difference is that the Iraq War is now driven by a thousand year old sectatian conflict, not U.S. bombs. Protesting seems moot because I can tell you that an Iraqi Shia death squad does not care what some college kids in the U.S. do with their day.
Given the failure of American leadership to fully understand the effects of their actions in Iraq, a student walkout seems incredibly misguided, if not already ineffective.

p. If American students truly want to be dedicated to the direction of our country and all others, they will go to class and learn as much as they possibly can so that when it is our generation’s turn to lead, we will be armed with the knowledge and understanding required to not repeat the mistakes of the past and, hopefully, be able to provide positive direction for this great nation.

p. I appreciate your activism and the time you took to send the e-mail and organize everything. It’s high time this issue was discussed in an apolitical context.

p. **__— Chris St. Cyr ’08__**

p. **The deed of the College**

p. To the Editor:
Much has been said about outsiders. Much has been said about the ownership of the College. It is both a modern, public university and a venerable historic institution. As a public university, it is funded in large amount by the so-called “outsiders.” These outsiders fund the bonds to pay for classrooms, laboratories and dorms. These outsiders contribute millions in taxes to fund the operations of the college. Outsiders are the single largest source of funding — more than the Zables, Masons or Streets combined. Outsiders hold the deed to the college.

p. As such, outsiders are fully entitled to an opinion on the direction and condition of the College. At the same time, the College is indisputably a historic college. This history is a gift. Without these 300 years, the Colonial influences and the controversial historic facts that come with our history, we’re just another small school tucked away in Tidewater, Virginia. Without that history, we’re no different than Virginia Tech or the University of Texas, minus the championship sports teams.

p. A good part of our national visibility comes from our illustrious history. This history means that the College belongs not just to those of us who live now, but to those who came before us. As students and alumni, we would be wise to look to those who laid the foundations and frameworks that we build upon today. We stand on the accomplishments of those who came before us and we owe them our gratitude.

p. The College does not belong exclusively to the students and faculty who occupy its halls today. It belongs to the taxpayers of Virginia, the alumni, the parents of future students who may only be preschoolers today, the living and the dead and everyone who has sacrificed over 300 years to get us where we are today.

p. As such, it is due time we took a step back and asked ourselves — at what point did the College decide that strippers and prostitutes best embody the College’s future and history instead of a pathetically simple brass ornament in the Chapel? Say what you will about the cross, but when those of us living hundreds of miles away see the only remaining symbolism of the 213 years of Anglican history removed at the same time the school pays for strippers and prostitutes — it makes us wonder what the hell is going on down there.

p. **__— Todd Skiles ’92__**

p. **Fake cross controversy**

p. To the Editor:
I read with dismay the Mar. 2 article “Donor pulls $12 million over Wren cross policy,” describing an anonymous donor’s decision to revoke his or her pledge because of the decision to remove the Wren cross. I won’t bore anyone with yet another opinion on the controversy. The reason I am so disappointed about the whole affair is not because one donor disagreed with President Nichol; it is because this donor’s response is emblematic of the absurd proportions to which this issue has grown.

p. This “cross controversy” is basically a fake issue that has spun totally out of control. To suggest that the issue of whether the Wren Chapel does or does not permanently display a cross is worth revoking millions of dollars worth of funding, and to argue that the College is going to and should lose prestige or respect because of the controversy is to elevate this whole issue into something it is not. In the grand scheme of the College, and in our lives in general, does this really matter that much?

p. The whole controversy is just another instance of high-pitch, fake moralism that is used by those of a particular political persuasion to distract us from the truly important issues of the day. Christians upset about the Wren Cross being removed? Why are these same people silent on the issue of torture being practiced in our name in the War on Terror?

p. Offended as an American because President Nichol removed something important to the College’s “heritage?” Why aren’t you similarly offended as an American that things much more essential to the fabric of our nation (you know, little things like habeas corpus and the separation of powers) are being removed as we speak?

p. Don’t let yourself be fooled — this Wren Chapel controversy is much ado about nothing. Do you disagree with Nichol’s decision? Write a letter. Protest. But don’t pretend like this is some great issue of the day, and that you are just so offended by it. This whole thing is right up there with Anna Nicole Smith on the evening news. It’s become a fake story that does nothing but distract us from things that matter. Do us all a favor — get offended by something that is truly important.

p. **__— John Castiglione ’02__**

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