Thumbs: Play football, save a life, read a book (Forum)

Thumbs up to the Herskovits Library of

African Studies for compiling rare manuscripts and making them available online. The NU African Studies Department and the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa collaborated to create an online collection so that scholars around the world have greater access to these hard-to-find documents.

NU already boasts a stellar Africana library, so this new system only adds to the resources available through the university. The institutes involved hope that the newly available collection will both pulverize the stereotype that Africa has no written history before European colonization, and increase desire for Islamic Studies programs within the university. In any case, this is an excellent example of a university using technological resources to make everyone’s lives easier.

Thumbs up to the Medill Innocence Project for freeing Herb Whitlock after eight years of effort. David

Protess’ investigative journalism class began research on the death row inmate’s case in 1999, and Whitlock was released Jan. 8 of this year after 20 years in prison.

Protess and the NU alumni who worked on Whitlock’s case are an inspiration to every student who believes in equality of justice, and the ability of youth to make an impact. In 2004 Protess and his students secured the freedom of Randy Steidl, who was arrested with Whitlock. In total, the Innocence Project has freed 11 people, five of whom were on death row.

Although the fight took eight years, the Innocence Project and its investigators held on, and the end result is well worth the wait. That Medill can offer students the opportunity to work on such a case reminds us all how it came by its stellar reputation in the first place.

Thumbs down to the Greenpeace workers staking out Sheridan Road

during horrific weather

conditions. These cheerfully scruffy activists make us all feel guilty with their seemingly simple question, “Can you spare a moment for the environment?”

Yes, the environment is in trouble. Yes, seals are cute. No, the oil companies are not run by good and moral people. However, neither the Arch nor the front of Kellogg are particularly congenial places for a friendly chat even in the best of weather conditions, and this week’s Chicago weather was disgustingly awful enough to send the students from Hawaii into hysterical fits.

In this kind of weather, everyone is already so mad at the environment that the prospect of being hit up for $15 per month to save it is repulsive. If these workers plan on gaining any measure of support, they should campaign on days when students are glad to be outside. As is, their efforts just make students more irritable than they were before. So please, just buy some free trade hot cocoa, stroke your beards, and leave us alone to suffocate in our own CO2.

Thumbs up to former NU football player Barry Cofield for winning the Super Bowl. Cofield, a three-year starter with the Wildcats and fourth-round draft pick by the Giants in 2006, started at defensive tackle for New York and was a large part of the dominant defensive line that kept Tom Brady on his back all game.

A former NU player has now won the Lombardi Trophy each of the last three years (Trai Essex with the Steelers in 2005 and Matt Ulrich with the Colts last year), but Cofield was the first to start and play a key role for the Super Bowl champions. With the Cats still without a bowl win since the Truman administration, it’s nice to have a winner to cheer for in the postseason.