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Wednesday, October 21, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 42

Strange Bedfellows

Staff Editorial

About the Cougar

Letters To The Editor

More on Fraternities

To the editor:

This letter is in response to a statement made by Mr. Alvaro Rios ("An even closer look," Letters to the Editor, Oct. 20) concerning a Staff Editorial on fraternities ("Take a closer look at fraternities," Oct.14). I would hope that a creative writing major would come up with something more creative than the same tired argument of "frat boys" buying beer and friends. 

You say that your community would not miss a fraternity if they were gone. Why donit you ask the Houston Food Bank or such charities as the Pediatric AIDS Foundation if they would miss us? The time and effort that (those) fraternity members put in to help these charities often goes unnoticed by everyone but the people that are helped.

Being in a fraternity gives those who want to be there a chance to be a part of something greater than themselves. It is not an act of buying friends, but it is an organization just like any other in which lasting friendships can be made. So, Mr. Rios, I advise you to save your "brainwashed spiels" for something you know more about.

Raymond Navarro
post-bac. English alumnus, Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity

Some advice

To the editor:

As a UH alumnus, I was saddened to read the column titled "Biblical bother?" (Opinion, Oct. 15) If it is Amanda Mahmoudi's intention to become a journalist, it would behoove her to take a class in constitutional law and speak with some victims of real harassment before she writes such an article. 

First of all, it is unfortunate that any journalist would take a position so strongly advocating the limitation on the right of free speech. The First Amendment, a cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution, guarantees to each citizen of this country the right of free speech. With few exceptions, this right has been broadly upheld and encompasses the behavior about which she complains in her article.

It is this very basic right which allows nearly unregulated journalism to be published.

Although I disagree with the content of the article at issue, I at least respect that each and every one of us has the right to draft such an article.

Second, it might broaden Ms. Mahmoudi's perspective of what harassment truly is to talk to some victims of harassment. One of the areas in which the First Amendment has been limited is when people use the right of free speech to harass and/or intimidate others.

However, indiscriminate use of the word "harassment" tends to trivialize the plight of those who have been true victims of religious, sexual and racial harassment. Ms. Mahmoudi's inconvenience of refusing a politely tendered offer to attend a Bible study does not rise to the level of harassment.

Furthermore, should the Students' Association attempt to regulate the free speech of other students by punishing them for asking someone to a Bible study, I hope that a civil rights organization like the ACLU would be quick to bring a legal action against the instigators of such regulation.

Finally, how this author sees an invitation to a Bible study, or five of them in a year, as contributing to an campus environment that is not "safe" and "secure" is beyond me. Unless she left out crucial details of which the readers are unaware, no one threatened, followed or assaulted her, or engaged in any other behavior that should have made her feel "unsafe."

If she wants to avoid this type of behavior that she terms "harassment," I would suggest that she stay at home with the television and telephone unplugged, not pick up her mail, not read any print-based media and refuse the door-to-door solicitors that plague us all from time to time.

Scott Maddux

Everyone hates everyone

To the editor:

I am writing in regard to Amanda Mahmoudi's column chronicling her self-pity in the Oct. 15 edition of The Daily Cougar ("Biblical bother," Opinion). 

This is my first, and hopefully last, semester at this school and her article sums up almost every reason why. I graduated from Texas A&M in May '98 and am continuing my education at this school. This is probably the most unfriendly campus I have ever visited and Ms. Mahmoudi is just one of the many reasons why.

In general, a college campus should not be a place where one feels offended by someone who may think of feel differently than you toward the world. Imagine how the world would be if everyone walked along ignoring everyone else because they may be having a bad day.

Everyone has problems; withdrawing from the world and taking those problems out on others is not the solution. She should feel lucky that someone on this campus took the time to offer some compassion in her apparent hour of need in whatever form it was presented. It seems as though everyone on this campus ignores everyone else's presence entirely as they keep walking. I am glad that this school was not my fist experience with college, because this is not what the "college experience" is or should be. The compassionate girl who Ms. Mahmoudi says was "harassing" her was not attempting to convert her to her blasphemous religion nor was the criticizing her own, she was merely trying to be nice to her.

I also find Ms. Mahmoudi's statement that "one would think after three years of declining they would get the hint" is rather humorous. She makes it sound as if she on some bulletin board for "Christianity conversion." If she finds attempted compassion a form of harassment, then she will have a difficult time adjusting to real life in her prospective career.

Simon Shini
post-bac, biophysics

What isharassment?

To the editor:

This letter is in response to Amanda Mahmoudi's column "Biblical bother?" (Opinion, Oct. 15) In the column, a seemingly harmless attempt by a Bible-study member to invite a fellow student?coincidentally, a columnist for The Daily Cougar -- to a Bible study, was described as being "a form of harassment," but only after "unnerving" and "annoying" at the heading of the front page stressed its importance and relevance to the student body.

Harassment is an important issue that is not be taken lightly, and if it occurs on the UH campus, then it is natural for the school paper to address the issue. But when does a caring invitation to a Bible study constitute harassment?

I doubt Bible-study members are "soliciting" their meetings to students on campus because students appear to be immoral and in need of spiritual guidance -- both of which were offered as motives for the Bible study members' action in the column.

Harassment -- as indicated in the subtitle of the column?was not really the issue being dealt with in this column at all! Sorority, fraternity, environmental group: Had members from these types of groups invited people to attend functions, the column would not have been printed.

What was printed, however, began as a description of one isolated event in which a student was invited to attend a Bible study, turned it down and then left -- end of story. There was no nagging or even second questioning made by the Bible-study member, and yet itis news in our daily paper.

Has The Daily Cougar come to this? Where are the real issues? If people are getting harassed, then UH students deserve to know it's happening on their campus, but blowing brief encounters between religious group members and nonmembers ("No? OK.") into issues that question the safety and comfort of the campus environment isnit right. Itis biased.

Chris Surface
sophomore, pre-business


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