Letters to the Editor

Diverse NU publications worth a read by students

I’m not a conservative. I’m not a left-wing extremist, either. And I’m certainly not a woman.

But I make it a point to read the Northwestern Chronicle, the Protest and Juice Magazine every opportunity I get, along with a daily dose of The Daily.

I have recieved considerable abuse because of this. Recently, while perusing the update on the student activist group NOWAR in the Chronicle, I was accosted by a friend of mine.

“You’re not reading that, are you? That right-wing Newt Gingrich-Jerry Falwell drivel?”

I was taken aback by the hostile tone of my companion but wrote it off as harmless self-righteous indignation. Yet similar comments were hurled at me later in the week as I flipped through an essay on huge corporate bookstores in the Protest and again as I skimmed an article on Afghan women in Juice. It seems like everyone’s got a vendetta against some publication or another, which is interesting because many of the complainers have never even read an issue of their worst enemy’s propaganda rag. I doubt the average NU student would even know where to find a copy of one.

No one can accuse the dedicated contributors, editors and publishers of these papers of being apathetic. They have something to say and they say it. That commitment deserves more respect than the average student gives. Student publications should not be brushed off as “liberal crap,” “feminist crap,” “right-wing crap,” or any other of a dozen slurs. If you’re lucky enough to find a copy of a student publication lying around, take the time to read it. Sure, it might be worthless drivel that offends your every notion of justice and decency. But at the very least, it might make you think about what you stand for and force you to defend your beliefs.

Former Jerusalem Post editor Carl Schrag spoke Friday about seeking out multiple sources of information. Although his speech focused on major news sources, his words held true for NU’s student publications as well.

“If you confine yourself to one source of information,” he said, “you’re just not going to get the whole story.”

Students of the Big Ten’s most apathetic university ought to snap out of their jaded haze and realize that there’s a wealth of information available to them, practically delivered to their doorstep. And if they disagree with what they read, maybe they ought to write a letter. Or a column. Or an article. A hundred avenues of expression exist. There is no excuse for apathetic silence.

You don’t have to be a conservative to read the Chronicle. You don’t have to be a liberal to read the Protest. You don’t have to be a feminist – or even female – to read Juice.

All you need to be is interested in expanding your own view of the world.

Jason Spitz

Speech freshman

No ethical complications in paying research subjects

An article on Jan. 23 quoted Alan Milstein, a lawyer who represented the family of a man who died as a result of participating in a gene-therapy research study, as saying, “The only reason why a subject should be in a research project is for altruistic reasons. Nobody should be a subject for the money – and if you are, it’s a problem.”

This position is nonsensical and would be funny if it weren’t repeated by institutional review boards during the actual review of research.

What would be wrong with accepting compensation in return for participating in a research study? The correct answer seems to be nothing. Let’s look at the two kinds of people who might receive such compensation.

First, there are those who would participate in the study even if they were not paid. Certainly, giving these people money for doing something they would do for free can hardly be said to hurt them in any way.

The second group, of course, is made up of those people who are participating only because they are being paid. What harm is being done to these people?

Assuming they are not forced to participate and the researchers disclose all relevant facts, the paid participants are entering a voluntary transaction, indistinguishable on ethical grounds from any other market transaction, such as the decision to accept a job offer.

Just as working for a living (even at a dangerous or unpleasant job) presents no special ethical problems, neither does participating in a research study in exchange for money. In either case, people are voluntarily selling their services at a price that they determine to be acceptable.

The real danger is that the mistaken notion that paid participation is problematic will limit study participants to those willing to do it without pay. Eliminating a large pool of potential participants in this way would undoubtedly have a significant harmful effect on scientific research and on those who would otherwise benefit from the results of that research.

Aaron Greenberg

Adjunct psychology lecturer

Michael Bailey

Professor of psychology