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Monday, April 24, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 139

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Letters to the Editor

Bureaucracy galore

To the editor,

The crisis in the computer science department deserves the attention of all students, especially computer science majors. The reaction seems to be anger at the department for including them in the political squabbles of the bureaucracy. That's fine for an initial response, but we students must recognize that we would have been the victims sooner or later anyway. 

As the Cougar staff editorial pointed out Friday, large class sizes reduce educational quality. Quality matters. It influences the value of your degree in the community. It influences your ability to secure a good job. 

For freshman computer science students, the problem is more severe. Some faculty members are seriously considering better offers. This not only encourages others to leave, but it also reduces the availability of exciting and timely elective courses. The best professors will leave first, (and) those left will be forced to focus specifically on teaching the standard courses required for your plain-Jane computer science degree.

We are being told by the administration to blame the faculty. We should not. I have known since I joined the department that professors Bowen Loftin and Ernst Leiss, among others, are strong advocates for the students. It is our interest that they have in mind. 

Voice your opinion. Do not sit back and wait, as Edward Sheridan encouraged me to do. Inaction will lead to the demise of our department. Contact Sheridan at esheridan@uh.edu. Carbon copy your message to President Arthur K. Smith at aksmith@uh.edu and to Dean John Bear. Do not hesitate to speak up. Remember, authority is not to be feared, it is to be questioned. The higher the authority, the more you must ask.

Ray Sbrusch,
graduate student, computer science


To the editor,

I graduated with a degree in computer science in the spring of 1999. I have since moved out of Houston to California, and have a good position paying very good money doing programming work. I'm toying with the idea of going for a master's or doctorate to further my professional career, and expect to be quite successful.

I have no major complaints against the University, and nothing but praise for The Honors College. However, I have nothing but a lingering sense of disgust for the computer science program, and will never, ever donate money to the computer science program.

Why? As an undergraduate, it became very obvious that the regular faculty did not care. They were unapproachable. They yelled at the students. They often were barely skilled enough to teach the class. The only thing I learned from those classes was that undergraduates, even in upper level courses, weren't worth anyone's time.

On the other hand, there were some classes which I still remember fondly, due to the instructors, and the material learned therein. Not coincidentally, all of these classes were taught by instructors who weren't members of the UH faculty, but were drawn from other institutions or from the industry. They knew their stuff, their classes were tough, and I never regretted taking any of them.

The problem with the computer science department is the faculty. Plain and simple. When I graduated with my classmates, there were a lot of people receiving their degrees. I counted one computer science professor present at the ceremony.

They didn't care about any of their students, graduate or undergraduate.

Alex Pavloff,
alumnus, 99, computer science


To the editor,

I am writing to express my strong support of professor Bowen Loftin. As a former graduate student in the Department of Computer Science, I along with many other fellow students have the same feeling that extremely large class size is a severe problem in the department. Students don't get much out of those big classes where individual instructor-student interaction is minimum. Thus, the quality of the education in UH is greatly compromised. Loftin is an outstanding professor and he really cares about his students. It will be a true loss to the UH community if he leaves his current position.

Dinli Sun,
MDBS Inc.


Extolling the virtues of the Veep

To the editor,

I would like to address the opinion piece Alex Elrod recently authored about Vice President Al Gore ("Democrats, liberals agree Gore is a liar," Opinion, April 21). First of all, the title lends nothing to the subject of the "piece." Liberals and democrats support Gore. That's probably why he's our nominee for freaking president.

Second, I would like to thank Jim Garson, a great professor in the philosophy department, for teaching me what a "Straw Man" argument really looks like. A "Straw Man" is an argument that a person builds that specifically demeans and cheats the other side by building up statements geared to "represent" the views of one side that are really easy hit targets set up by the other side. Knights, often before battle, used to set up a "Straw Man" and wow the crowds by attacking the defenseless dummy.

It's sad to note that we still have these types of communication, which only suppresses the "better angels of our nature." Making claims so outlandish that the facts are probably pulled directly out of the Weekly World News and putting together a skewed, right-wing view of Gore's history is a pathetic attempt to sound hip and interesting.

As a campus leader and proud, life-long democrat, I have had enough of this kind of dialogue. Discuss issues (of which President Clinton's moral slips are the only thing even closely related to it in the piece) instead of assuming that students are so stupid as not to know fact from fiction. Saying that Gore "used his father's political pull to have escorts assigned to guard him" is flat out bovine feces. Gore served the United States in Vietnam. Period. I thank each of our veterans for protecting my freedom to speak out against views like Elrod's.

If we want to get personal, look at Dubbya's military record. I'm glad that my parents slept better knowing the skies of Texas were safe from Mexican Air Force aggression with Dubbya in the pilot's seat while millions of Americans fought back communism is Southeast Asia during the Vietnam era. But I would rather not get personal, instead wishing to stick to issues ... like health care.

Did you know that Gov. George W. Bush made his first speech on health care last week? Hmm, now I see the reasons for personal attacks. The reason that the entire article is spent using out-of-context quotations from as far back as 1988 (while Dubbya was busy trading Sammy Sosa for Harold Baines) is that there is not a single issue that Dubbya can bring up to challenge Gore. I guess Gore's Bs at Harvard carry more weight than W's Cs at Yale. Getting personal is not productive and only makes people like me damn proud to be a democrat, the party of ideas.

Bill Kelly,
sophomore, political science


Rah, rah and all that jazz

To the editor,

We are disappointed by the tone and focus of "UH looks to McCallum for change of pace," April 21. The article states, "Drexler's work could have accurately been described as mere on the job training," among other derogatory insinuations.

Clyde Drexler brought credibility, national recognition, and integrity to a struggling program. His contributions in these areas are far more important than short-term wins and losses. Drexler did not need this job. He took this job due to his devotion, commitment, and support of the University of Houston and the community. He deserves our thanks and praise, rather than the disrespect demonstrated in this article.

Steve Werner,
Associate Professor of Management,
College of Business Administration

Abigail Hubbard,
Visiting Assistant Professor of Management,
College of Business Administration

Editor's reply -- Aside from the quote mentioned and one relating to experience, there is nothing in the article which can be construed as being derogatory towards former head basketball Clyde Drexler. Drexler had no coaching experience and coached a team which went 19-39 over two seasons. We're sorry if the truth is seen as disrespect.



Letters Policy

Letters to the editor are welcome from all members of the UH community and should focus on issues, not personalities. Letters must be typed and must include the author's name, telephone number and affiliation with the University. Anonymous letters will not be published. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, language and space. Letters may be delivered in person to Room 151, Communication; e-mailed to dclettrs@mail.uh.edu; or faxed to (713) 743-5384.

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