Letters to the editor

Smoking policy needs to go up in smoke

I am still taken aback after reading the article in Thursday’s Kernel regarding the campus smoking policy and how it is often ignored and not enforced. As an avid smoker myself, I accept the laws and regulations that prohibit smoking indoors. That’s fine and understandable as there is limited airflow and circulation. But to enforce rules outside —come on now.

They might as well prohibit the squirrels from going within 20 feet of a tree or homeless people within 20 yards of campus boundaries. It’s absurd, especially considering that the majority of the “cigarette butt receptacles” are located right next to building entrances. It looks like a trap to me if they’re going to enforce this.

Ernie Yanarella, the Board of Trustees and anyone else who may be bothered by this need to take a step back and think for a moment how fortunate they are to be living in a country and attending a university where something such as smoking within 20 feet of a building is one of the biggest problems to worry about. It seems as if they’re just assuming every smoker isn’t courteous enough to be considerate of other people and the only way to quash this “problem” is to write them up or fine them.

I suppose I can only speak for myself when I say that I do make an effort to make sure my smoke doesn’t bother anyone and that my used cigarettes find an appropriate place to go. Regardless, what’s still bothering me is the amount of effort the policy makers are prepared to put into this scheme.

Well, then again, maybe it would be good if they collect money through fining people. That way they can put effort into preventing another Northern Illinois University- or Virginia Tech-like shooting, restoring some of these classrooms, curbing an increase in tuition or even making more parking space available for students who live off campus. The list could go on. Come on now, guys.

Incidents involving Islam reveal prejudice

Since Sen. Barack Obama announced that he would run for the presidency, I have been an avid supporter of him. A man of such charisma, intelligence and tolerance isn’t someone who is hard to align with. However, recent events have made me question a man whom I have always perceived as socially progressive.

During a debate, Obama responded to a question that asked if he was in any way “hiding” his Muslim faith. Obama, clearly attempting to appeal to the Christian masses in our nation, vehemently denied any such allegation and confirmed that he was indeed a Christian. However, by responding in this way, Obama propagated the negative stigma that has unfairly been attached to the Muslim faith.

While this can be dismissed by some as Obama playing into the game of politics (he does, after all, have to win votes), it deeply disturbs me that a person who possesses such an incredible capacity for social change would perpetuate the negative connotations that many uninformed Americans associate with Islam. Being a Muslim is not shameful, and Muslims seeking political office are not a threat to our nation and should receive absolutely the same treatment and respect as their Christian brethren.

As many of us have come to discover, fear-mongering about Obama’s ties to the Islamic faith has ensued, whether it be from the desperate attempts of the Hillary Clinton campaign to stay in the game or John McCain’s rallying of the Republican masses.

The most disturbing part of all is that people actually buy into these ridiculous scare tactics. For example, consider the infamous e-mail that our Student Government president was caught passing along. Would that e-mail have ever been distributed throughout cyberspace with such pervasiveness if someone didn’t believe it?

We cannot allow such bigotry to flourish in the United States, where freedom of religion and the equality of all people are fundamental tenets to our beliefs as a nation. Islam is not something that the American people should fear. Bigotry, racism and ignorance are the bigger issues that Americans must now confront.