Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JANUARY 21, 2013 6:30 AM

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Service needs promoting

Today, I’ll participate in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Focusing on homelessness and hunger, volunteers stand outside of area Hy-Vees, encouraging shoppers to purchase items for the Shelter House and Crisis Center. Initially, I was anxious to see how many volunteers signed up, but my excitement was squashed when I received my confirmation e-mail.

Only 37 people signed up. Of those, 14 are faculty/staff, four are graduate students with assistantships in the Division of Student Life (one of the main sponsors of the event), and the remaining 20 are students.

As someone with volunteer coordination experience, I understand the difficulties associated with recruitment and marketing of opportunities. The Martin Luther King Day of Service is no exception, especially since it’s before the semester officially begins. However, I think this issue runs deeper than advertising.

The Day of Service should reflect a lived-out commitment to human rights. Donating food to the hungry is important, but working to actually feed the hungry might provide a more meaningful experience, because it connects volunteers directly to those the day intends to serve. Overall, I am saddened and frustrated that King’s legacy to racial justice is boiled down to people asking other people to buy food.

Why not put volunteers in the neighborhood centers, local schools, or other agencies that would provide hands-on exposure to the community? Despite my disappointment, I’ll volunteer, knowing that my two hours are nothing compared with what others such as King have given.

Still, I hope that in the future the university will make the Day of Service a priority. Martin Luther King Day comes every year; there are roughly 365 days to plan, organize, and promote a day of service that truly honors King’s legacy and benefits our campus and community in a more powerful way.

Katie Kidwell
UI Higher Education and Student Affairs Graduate student

Get off Mason’s back

Am I the only one wondering why UI President Sally Mason is getting so much flack for her “handling” of the Peter Gray incident, while Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta’s name is hardly even mentioned in the scandal?

This incident (while deplorable) is just one of a long stream of disasters coming out of the Athletics Department over the past few years.  Athletes involved in sexual abuse, public intoxication, fistfights, drugs, theft — the list goes on and on. Yet it seems like the coaches and, in particular, Barta, always manage to keep their noses clean in the end.  Other people get fired.  Other staff get “reassigned.” But the man at the top keeps pulling down his big paycheck and pretty much keeps silent while others take — or get — the blame.

It sure seems as if Regent President Craig Lang and others are also using Mason as a scapegoat for a host of issues that they, or others, don’t want to take responsibility for. I think its time for them to get off Mason’s back and get to work dealing with the issues themselves or with the people at the root of the problems.  It appears like this is a case where saying the “buck stops there” (at Mason’s desk) seems a bit like “passing the buck.”

The UI athletics machine is out of control, and it’s time to shut it down.

Mark Signs
Iowa City resident

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