Letters for the week of December 22-28, 2004 

Much disagreement about our guest essay blaming Berkeley's African American Studies Department for declining black enrollment at Cal.

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The article also asserted that there are only eight black graduate students attending UC Berkeley. According to Cal's Office of Student Research, in the fall of 2004 there actually were 316 African-American graduate students on campus. Similarly, while there appears to be no definitive roster of how many African-American women teach at Cal, according to the department, there are roughly twelve, and not eight, as our story alleged.

"In a Class of Their Own," Feature, 12/1

I can teach Cal something
As I was on my way to work this morning, I had the opportunity to read your article regarding the Cal Bears football team and the lack of diversity on the Berkeley campus. I found the article to be very informative and eye-opening. Your article has affirmed my belief that as an African-American male who will soon be applying to Berkeley, I will be able to bring a fresh perspective to the Cal campus and am looking forward to sharing my life experiences with all of Berkeley's students. A great read indeed.
Bryan S. Jackson, Richmond

A lot of irony, indeed
A white female college student gets the opportunity to publish a major piece by focusing on the alleged intellectual inferiority of African-American athletes. The basketball player in her story said it best when he stated, "I think there's a lot of irony going on here." It is important to remember that white women were the main beneficiaries of affirmative action, not people of color.
Anthony Solana Jr., El Cerrito

Stanford is diverse
I'm responding to Rachel Swan's December 1 article. She referred to Cal as an "ethnically diverse public university" and Stanford as a "privileged and elite private one." If Ms. Swan had done her research, she would have found out that 54 percent of Stanford's students are students of color, and over 74 percent receive financial aid. Stanford works hard to achieve its diversity, of which it is justifiably proud.
Jill Wurzburg, Stanford

Stanford sucks
I disagree with your article. You make the assumption (without any evidence) that Stanford outclasses Cal in the classroom, but cite a plethora of evidence from the game which, of course, is unrelated to the efforts of students in a classroom setting. In reality, I would like you to know that Stanford does not outclass Cal in the classroom, as they use a good deal of grade inflation. This in turn causes students not to try hard to earn their grades if a grade of a B+ is pretty much guaranteed.

I am a reader (TA) for a class at Cal and I can say that our grading methods are much more stringent that Stanford's. Stanford students do not work as hard in the classroom, a claim that is supported by many students who attend Stanford University.
Cameron Huey, Berkeley

Naming names
Great article on intercollegiate athletics at my alma mater! I appreciated the honesty, and the "naming of names," and the "guts" and the "class" to "tell it like it is"! Ms. Swan, I, personally, am all for tutors for those of our student-athletes who need them, as long as those student-athletes do the work THEMSELVES. Marshawn Lynch -- good person! Wale Forrester -- good person! All of the young men on our football team are good people, as far as I know, who are caught up in a system, as is also the case at most other universities and colleges, that may never be smoothed out.

God bless, and GO BEARS!!
David Berke, San Mateo

"Building a Better Elephant," Feature, 11/17

So he makes money? Big deal
Thanks for a fabulous article that informs us of the Elephant in our midst. How thrilling that this California firm is spreading innovation about holistic care nationally. So much of your article focused on labor issues that some readers may have missed the significance of this business venture. Skorman risks his own $11 million (in real money) because he believes the rest of the country should have the same access to holistic products as we do here. Okay, so he (and others) make money and the masses get a better look at what can keep them healthy and thrive.

As a nurse who knows a lot about holistic care. I still knew little about Ayurvedic medicine until I attended one of Elephant's free lectures on it. A consultation with an expert practitioner and prescribed herbs resolved some long-standing health issues. What Elephant Pharmacy offers can be transformative, so why not focus on the possibilities that this venture offers many?
Lynn Fraley, RN, Dr. PH, Berkeley

"Phantom Folkies," Billboard, 11/17

A class act
Steve Seskin is not just a powerful songwriter and performer: He is also a class act when it comes to social activism. His "Don't Laugh at Me" classic, which spawned the hugely successful "Operation Respect," is the prime teaching aid in the antibullying program used in thousands of schools nationwide. Locally, he also generously contributed the track to Parental Stress Service, a positive parenting agency here in the East Bay.

The track can be heard on the hugely successful compilation CD "Hold My Hand," put out by PSS and celebrating the parent-child relationship.
Shay Black, Berkeley


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