Letters: SafeRide, Finkelstein

A SafeRide coordinator weighs in on coverage

Over the last few weeks the Daily has incorrectly reported several facts about SafeRide. Like every other campus unit, SafeRide is expected to live within its budget. This is not an unusual expectation, especially in light of the current economy. Within this context, we have and will continue to provide extraordinary service to the Northwestern community. We do not get bonuses as the Daily reported. Our budget has not been cut as the Daily reported. In fact, the budget for the current year has been increased.

SafeRide is a safety service open to the entire NU community. It is not a taxi service. SafeRide is intended to be used in conjunction with walking in groups and the Northwestern Shuttle Service. It is one part of a partnership to help make NU a safer place that includes Northwestern Police, Evanston Police, University Residential Life, the Community Service Officers, and students.

The backbone of SafeRide is its dispatchers and drivers. They do an excellent job and provide a wonderful service to the university. Evidence of the outstanding job they have done this year is a record number of rides. This fall, for example, the SafeRide dispatchers and drivers provided rides to 20,251 students. In addition, so far this quarter we have broken a number of records. On January 24 we gave 353 rides to 549 passengers and on January 29 we gave 363 rides to 498 passengers. The average number rides this winter has increased to 223 versus 213 for winter ’08, and the average wait-time is within seconds of last winter. The SafeRide dispatchers and drivers are a very hard working bunch of dedicated students, and they do not deserve unwarranted and unsupportable claims levied against them. Their safety record is impeccable considering the 300-500 miles that are driven collectively every night.

-JERRY BAUERSafeRide coordinator

Finkelstein’s comments needed, but cheap

Unlike many readers of the Daily who posted comments regarding Norman Finkelstein’s speech, I was willing to listen to his views to form my own opinion. I was also in the minority, it seems, when I decided to examine the hotly contested Israel versus Palestine debate using logic and reason.

Knowledge and moderation are used much too infrequently in the discussion of Israel andPalestine and thus emotional, biased tendencies continue to dominate the discourse. The tactics of Finkelstein, who spoke regarding the complete fault of Israel without acknowledging that Hamas must also hold some accountability, grabbed hold of the audience, who clapped to show their approval of his clearly narrow-minded message.

It does not bother me that Finkelstein was given the chance to speak (in fact I completely support his right to do so). It does not bother me that he uses attention-seeking arguments to gain fame by causing controversy. It does, however, bother me that so many members of the audience last night bought his cheap and biased arguments, if only for the fact that it was anti-Israel. Simultaneously, many Jewish students on campus also buy contemptible arguments in favor of Israel, ones that stem from purely emotional ties and a responsibility to the Jewish homeland. It is unfortunate that at a time when reasonable argumentation and use of logic are essential, most protests, education, and action is founded solely on the basis of emotion.

Relying purely on humanitarian ideals or religious pride and bravery will go nowhere in the reality of what we now face. The only way Muslims and Jews can come to terms with the facts is if emotion can be set aside and the situation examined, scrutinized and debated in the light of logic. While it is reasonable to ultimately place loyalties on one side or the other, nothing can ever be achieved if both sides blindly follow their hearts without regard to their minds.

-ZOYA KOLKINSESP junior