Letters to the Editor – January 15, 2015

The following is an letter which I sent to President Blouw, and other members of Laurier’s senior administration. It has to do with the condition of Laurier’s building signage, which I believe is an important campus issue. I am submitting this email as a letter to the editor:

I am a recent alumnus and proud Golden Hawk. Throughout my undergrad, I became frustrated about the neglect of essential maintenance concerns on our Waterloo campus. Specifically, the condition of our outdoor building signage is deplorable. This weekend, I was visiting some colleagues in Waterloo and I had the opportunity to walk through campus. I was saddened (though not surprised) to see that the majority of our outdoor signage remains neglected.

While many of these signs are in desperate need of replacement, the two signs at Chancellors Drive and Bricker Ave made me feel particularly sad. I am writing this letter to stress that these signs project a poor image to the public and are extraordinarily damaging to the reputation of our school. While the landmark signs at the corners of campus have been updated, these updates cover only a small fraction of the problem.

There are a number of important issues that we must consider:

  1. The building signs are seen by thousands of students, staff and faculty members each day. It is disheartening to see defaced WLU logos, empty cards, exposed wiring, etc.
  1. These signs significantly diminish the effectiveness of our campus tours. In fact, they diminish the effectiveness of all recruitment and marketing efforts. What do our signs say to potential students?
  1. Laurier is aggressively pursuing a Milton campus. Why should we expect the provincial government to approve these plans when it is clear that we are struggling to carry out essential maintenance on the campus that we already have?
  1. A recent Cord article suggested that each building sign will be replaced as buildings are renovated. The vast majority of our buildings do not require renovation. Does this mean that these signs will be decaying indefinitely?

I do not intend to be critical of WLU or its administration in any way. In fact, we all share a fundamental interest: we want Wilfrid Laurier University to be the best institution that it can possibly be. To pursue this goal, the signs need to be updated.

Finally, I want to stress that the immediate upgrade of the building signage is an essential maintenance concern. While I understand that Laurier is facing financial difficulty, this maintenance cannot be neglected.

The Laurier community is eagerly awaiting a long overdue signage update!

Sincerely and respectfully,

Tom LaMantia


Letter to the Editor: A rebuttal on Gun Violence in America

After reading Don Morgenson’s piece on gun violence in the United States, especially in light of Obama’s recently proposed executive action on gun control, I feel the issue deserves input from the other side; especially if education is the goal.

Arguably, there are flaws in many of the statistics cited in favour of gun legislation and there is limited evidence to suggest additional legislation will have any effect on reducing crime. I challenge the emotionally charged and rationally void discussion from those that plead something must be done about guns, and I believe this issue needs to be opened for further debate.

Treating guns as a disease is the wrong approach to take. Guns are merely a tool. They’re useless without a human to pull the trigger and are able to be used for both good and bad reasons like any other item. People are the root of the problem. There’s no public outcry to ban knives after stabbings occur or fast food restaurants when obesity rates soar because we’re able to rationally separate people’s choices and the means by which they act on them. Why does this rationality escape us when we discuss guns? Is it based on fear because of the tragic but rare events we are overexposed to on television?

With the media portrayal of mass shootings and other tragic events, you’d think the United States was on the verge of a gun apocalypse. Most people would be shocked to learn that gun violence has declined year after year in the states since the 1970s. The reality is that the truth is often muddied by journalists to push a good story because tragedies cause ratings to skyrocket. Mass shootings only make up 1.5% of gun deaths in the United States. They’re also defined as ¬¬¬¬ ‘four or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location, not including the shooter’ according to the FBI derived definition from the Gun Violence Archive. This is far vaguer and does not capture the extreme images of shootings like Sandy Hook that come to mind when people think of mass shootings. If America has a gun violence problem, the culprit is organized crime, not individual psychopaths shooting up schools full of children.

Correlation does not equal causation, and the correlation between the number of guns in circulation and gun crime is iffy at best. Eliminate the cities with the worst gun violence in America and also the most stringent gun laws (Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles), suicides and organized crime (neither of which would be effectively stopped by legislation), and show the numbers as a percentage for accurate comparison across countries with different populations. The 30,000 Americans that die every year from firearms compared to 1034 a year in Canada cited in Morgenson’s piece is a much less shocking figure when you realize the U.S. has tenfold the population of Canada.

The main issue with gun legislation is that much like you can’t uninvent the wheel, you can’t uninvent the gun. Someone in society must be armed. The irony behind taking an anti-gun stance is that armed police officers will be needed to forcefully take guns away from those that don’t comply. The government isn’t handing over its weapons when it passes more legislation. Criminals don’t follow the law to begin with so they’ll turn to the black market and easily equip themselves with one of the estimated 300 million guns already in circulation in the states. The true debate is really whether you want only police and criminals to be armed and the general public to be caught in the crosshairs, or allow all citizens access to the gun market.

Gun legislation doesn’t come cheap.  Look no farther than the recently abolished long gun registry in Canada. Put in place after the 1989 Montreal mass shooting with an initial price tag of $2 million dollars, Bill C68 cost Canadian taxpayers $2 billion, trampled the rights of law abiding gun owners, made gun ownership unaffordable for low income earners, and did nothing to stop crime. Basing legislation on emotionally charged events with the reasoning that ‘we must do something!’ is a terrible idea.

It’s also important to note that gun ownership in America cannot be taken out of the context of the 2nd Amendment. It’s not a smokescreen, it’s a deeply entrenched constitutional right American citizens hold to protect themselves, their property, and their country from a corrupt and totalitarian government. There’s been enough cases in history of governments turning on their own people that this shouldn’t be seen as a foolish belief. Considering the amount of time America has been fighting Islamic terrorist groups in the Middle East, it’s fair to say an armed populace engaging in guerilla warfare tactics is hard to eliminate even when it’s up against the world’s strongest military. Dictatorship can only happen with a silent and compliant majority of citizens.

So before we bash our neighbours to the south for holding onto their guns, let’s examine this issue from all sides and leave emotional appeals out of the debate on gun violence. Education, not legislation, is the way to a better future.

Laura Jany

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