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Tuesday, October 20, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 41

Free Speech?

Staff Editorial

About the Cougar

Letters To The Editor

 Speaking out

To the editor:

 My name is Michele LaRocco, and I am writing in response to the letter regarding an incident that took place at the Phi Kappa Theta house Oct. 2 (This is 'fun?', Opinion, Oct. 9).

 I feel I should explain what happened that evening since I was the one who complained about Mr. Peter Ebalunode's behavior.

 I was on the dance floor dancing with several of my friends when Mr. Ebalunode began to harass me. Mr. Ebalunode claimed in his letter that he was accused of touching a girl's butt, but in fact, I accused him of not only touching my butt, but groping my chest and grabbing other areas of my body.

 By trying to turn this into a racial issue, Mr. Ebalunode is attempting to take away from the seriousness of what happened. Mr. Ebalunode was not asked to leave because he is African-American; he was asked to leave because he was sexually harassing me.

 Perhaps what is most unsettling is that Mr. Ebalunode has no clue as to what he did wrong. Instead of accepting responsibility for his actions, Mr. Ebalunode claims he was confused because he saw that "there were a bunch of girls and guys grabbing each otheris butts" on the dance floor. Therefore, does that mean that if all those people were to proceed to jump off a bridge, it would be OK?

 Mr. Ebalunode took it upon himself to decide whether I would feel comfortable dancing like that, which I did not, and I repeatedly told him so. He went on to say in the letter that he "could not come up with a distinct time that (he) grabbed a girl's butt." I can only explain Mr. Ebalunode's sudden case of temporary amnesia by assuming that he was too busy groping and grabbing other parts of my body to remember just grabbing my butt.

 Maybe Mr. Ebalunode's mother should have taught her son to respect women rather than "obey before complain." Then maybe this incident could have been avoided. On the other hand, perhaps I should have called the UH Police instead of going to the gentlemen of Phi Kappa Theta. At least there would have been a formal report of what transpired that evening and the good name of the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity would not be in question.

 As far as I am concerned, the actions taken by the gentlemen of Phi Kappa Theta prove one thing: "Frat boys," as Mr. Ebalunode likes to refer to them, respect women and their right to feel safe while attending their parties. Any woman should feel safe attending parties at the Phi Kappa Theta house and know that, if she should have a problem, they are there to help her.

 I hope this letter serves its purpose -- it was not an easy one to write. I was hoping to put what had transpired at the Phi Kappa Theta house behind. Therefore, I am sure you can imagine my surprise when I read the Oct. 9 issue. Now I see  how important it is for women to speak out against men such as Mr. Ebalunode.

 I applaud the men of Phi Kappa Theta for taking my concerns and complaint seriously. I also hope to be attending one of their parties in the near future.

Michele LaRocco
freshman, English

An even closer look?

To the editor:

 I am writing in response to the Staff Editorial "Take a closer look at fraternities" (Oct. 14). You are right. We need to take a closer look at what fraternities have to offer us.

 This is my first year at UH and this whole fraternity thing is new to me. Joining a fraternity never crossed my mind because I could never get a worthwhile answer to the same question that I am now posing to the students of UH: "What is the significance of a fraternity, and why would I want to be in one?"

 OK, you frat boys are probably now reciting those brainwashed spiels about how your fraternity performs community service and how your fraternity promotes brotherhood and cohesiveness qualities that are important in the "real" world.

 What kind of brotherhood and cohesiveness do fraternities really promote? Sticking together when questioned about allegations of sexual harassment?

 Do you consider it community service when you buy alcohol from the local brewery or convenience store? I guess so, because I can guarantee that many breweries would take notice if there were no fraternities to buy their fine products. 

 You frat boys need to ask yourselves Would the community miss a fraternity, or all fraternities, if they disappeared? Mine wouldnit.

 What is wrong with the college students of today? I just canit get the idea in my mind to accept that students pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to instantly have friends.

 This is the problem: Fraternities are now trivializing the process of making friends. 
They are proof that money can still buy friends. Think about it: Would these frat boys be friends with a pledge if that person didn't have the money to be a part of their fine organization?

 Fraternities do not have to prove anything to me. They have an obligation to prove to the students that they are actually providing something beneficial to all.

 My advice to all ye who can still be saved: Be a leader, not a follower. If you feel you have to be a part of the group because you are afraid to be alone, then wait until you get to the real world. The "good ol' boy" system will not save you all the time.

Alvaro Saar Rios
junior, creative writing

Bad business?

To the editor:

 I was very dismayed at the College of Business Administration's Career Fair when I discovered that the level of professionalism I had always expected from the college did not come through.

 I had gone to the career fair because I am graduating soon with a degree in information systems. 

 When I went to the fair, I discovered that all of the business students had pre-made name tags. I said to myself, "how nice." But I also noticed that some people were wearing name-tag stickers that you can write your name and major down on. When I approached a gentlewoman to attempt to get a sticker name tag, she proudly refused to give one to me because I was in the College of Technology and informed me that the name tags were only for CBA students. 

 I just looked at her and thought, "How cheap could you possibly be?" How much could a sticker name tag possibly cost? When I went to the Engineering career fair, they gave me a name tag, and I'm not in Engineering. When I went to the Rice University career fair, they gave me one, and I don't even go to Rice.

 I didn't really care to give her the satisfaction of wasting my time with the issue. I would rather display my concern with a public letter for everyone to draw from. 

Fahd Alfadli
senior, information systems

No partisan spirit

To the editor:

 The votes came in at 258 yeas and 176 nays in favor of impeachment hearings for President Clinton. Fine, but why did my stomach turn even though I voted for someone other than this president in both of his elections? 

 On my television screen I saw that 100 percent of  the House Republicans voted "yea," and 85 percent of the House Democrats voted "nay." I do not want to know that Bill Clintonis job hangs in the balance of how many Republicans are in Congress vs. how many Democrats are there. I find that repugnant. The president would have had better luck last term with odds in his favor.

 I believe that voting by secret ballot in Congress would put an end to acting out of partisan team spirit. At present, we might as well bring out the cheerleaders and open some beer for the game -- and a no-brainer one at that. I also think that with no more than a simple vote total to go on, no self-respecting lobbyist would throw away money without means of verifying that his or her efforts paid off. That would be a poor investment decision. Even a president would have to be more convincing and not rely on a buddy-buddy party network.

 Let our representatives or senators go to work and vote with individual conscience. Free them from the forces of party and special interest.

Jason Cordell
MBA student


Kahn's Deli (2429 Rice Blvd.), which was reviewed in Thursday's Cheap Eat$ column, was referred to as being a kosher deli. However, since the establishment serves sandwiches with meat and cheese, the deli is actually not kosher.


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