Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | MAY 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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Vote against pot prosecutions

Last fall, Dona Saforek, 64, was home alone when the doorbell rang. She opened the door to find three men dressed in plain clothes; she did not know they were members of the Johnson County Drug Task Force. Four hours later, with a total of seven officers present, she was handcuffed, taken to jail, and held in a cell overnight. She got no dinner because she arrived after 4:30 in the afternoon; breakfast was a granola bar. Dona was released on her own recognizance. Her crime: possessing 42.5 grams of marijuana (serious misdemeanor) and failing to have a drug tax stamp (felony offense).

County Attorney Janet Lyness did not have to prosecute this woman but did so because her office prosecutes everyone with a marijuana charge. Dona was put on leave from her job at Kirkwood, her only source of income and had to rely on help from friends to pay bills. She worried about how she would survive if she did not get her job back.

The humiliation, mental anguish, and financial burden Dona Saforek was subjected to for the act of having marijuana for her own use in her own home is infuriating. How can the county attorney possibly believe these prosecutions are keeping us safe or benefiting society?

Marijuana is a major issue in this campaign, and voters who wish to spare people the mental anguish suffered by Dona Saforek and others like her would be advised to vote for John Zimmerman.

Carol deProsse

Re: UI wage gap lingers

I have been at the UI since 1985, when I came after a postgraduate stint in Mexico, eager take up a position at a Big Ten university. Over the years, I did everything expected of a faculty member at a major research institution: published books and articles, obtained fellowships and grants, lectured in the U.S. and abroad, directed dissertations, taught a wide range of classes. All those aspects of my job I thoroughly enjoy and still do today. However, I soon learnt that my male colleagues enjoyed significantly higher salaries than women, even without the same level of productivity. Across the board, things did not improve at the senior rank.

Such a gender gap cannot be justified by differences in academic area. A Ph.D. in the humanities is still as hard won as one in the social sciences. To write one page of a literary essay or book requires a wealth of knowledge in different fields —meaning, it’s hard, hard work. Besides, the UI prides itself in the arts and humanities, and it should reward faculty excelling in those fields. I cannot speak for the “hard sciences,” but women should enter professions that they love and receive equal remuneration. As President Obama pointed out in his last State of the Union address, gender inequity in salaries is “an embarrassment.” Now is the time for the UI to follow other leading universities in closing this embarrassing gender gap.

Adriana Méndez Rodenas
Professor, Latin American & Caribbean Literatures

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