Thursday, April 6, 2000
As faculty at CSUMB, we would like to express our great disappointment in the Weekly for its one-sided and inaccurate story on the issue of e-mail on our campus ("Crying E-Wolf," March 23-29).
We have had a long series of serious e-mail incidents during which various groups were targeted and their safety on campus threatened. As a result, there have been ongoing conversations about what, if anything, the university can or should do to discourage such electronic communications.
The story by Aaron S. Birk barely alludes to these crucial events, and instead, spends the next 11 paragraphs attacking an e-mail written by our student, Jacob DeGrave. In that e-mail, DeGrave criticized the Student Activities director, Matt Kritscher, for making comments that at least had a racially derogatory subtext.
Birk set this up as a conflict between two wrongs: 1) Kritscher's alleged racism; and 2) DeGrave's decision to distribute his criticism widely via e-mail. Birk decided that number two was the more egregious offense. "What's more disturbing," he wrote, "is that, with a touch of the mouse, DeGrave's e-mail was sent out to a lot of people-except Kritscher, who received a copy of it via someone else in his office-embarrassing Kritscher and potentially damaging his career over what may be no more than a simple misunderstanding."
We find it alarming that the Weekly, through its reporter, would suggest that a student's decision to make his concerns about a university administrator public is more disturbing than the possibility that the administrator has acted in racist ways.
A simple request to view the e-mail logs of anyone who received DeGrave's original e-mail would have shown the Weekly that at least one statement attributed to Kritscher is demonstrably false. Some of us were recipients of that e-mail. Our logs show that Matt Kritscher was on the list of recipients, that he read and replied to it on the same day that DeGrave sent it. The Weekly's gullible reporters apparently took Kritscher's word that DeGrave "had sent this letter to everyone he could think of except to me."
As CSUMB faculty, each of us has known and worked closely with Jacob DeGrave for four years. He is passionately committed to the things he believes in. His decision to send this e-mail may, or may not, have been wise. But we completely trust his integrity, his honesty, and his intelligence. The Weekly owes him an apology for its irresponsible and sloppy attack.
PROFESSORS IN THE SOCIAL & BEHAVIORAL
SCIENCES CENTER, CSUMB
Editor's Note: We spoke again with Matt Kritscher, who told us that he had, indeed, received the e-mail from Jacob DeGrave. He says his comments were made about a different e-mail that he did not receive. We apologize for the confusion.
We thoroughly enjoyed the remarkable article, "Two to Tango" (March 23-29), by Rebecca Crocker. Before we became students of Fernando Filipelli, we had been learning ballroom dancing with the Vida Royale Institute of Dance Education and Research at the Naval Postgraduate School with our teacher, Pinky Galicano. We are still learning difficult patterns of the Argentine Tango.
Fernando's superb communication and motivational skills makes him a fantastic and special Argentine Tango teacher. He has the patience, creativity and the depth of knowledge to teach the intricate and complex elements of the Argentine Tango. The dance is unique because it embodies Argentine culture and philosophy; it is filled with forbidden passions, secret emotions and a romantic silent syntax all its own. As for us, dancing is a better stress reliever.
Our Argentine Tango and Vida Royale classmates are a good, fun group.
Once we are able to teach our 9-year-old son the Argentine Tango, then we can call ourselves "Dance Instructors."
TERRY AND JERRY DEGUZMAN