To the editor:

When the Calhoun freshmen were blindfolded and herded out onto a muddy Old Campus for initiation into their college, it was a fun reminder of the importance of college solidarity and respect. Unfortunately, my Calhoun spirit was soon shaken when I received an email from our Master, inviting all Calhoun students to a reception for Dan Kruger, who is challenging Alderman Ben Healey for the Ward One seat.

When I first became aware of Master Sledge’s strong support of Dan, I saw it as an encouragement of involvement in local politics. My feelings, however, have changed. First, there was Master Sledge’s contribution to Dan’s campaign, a choice that I regard as personal and within his rights. Then there was the op-ed in the YDN; even then, I reminded myself of my conviction in freedom of speech. There is a difference, however, between free speech and the use of a position of power to actively push a candidate. When Master Sledge uses his living room in Calhoun College, which is at least to some degree a public gathering place, for an event that is meant to encourage the students he has a considerable amount of influence over to vote a certain way, I believe he is over-stepping the boundaries of his position.

A residential college should be a place of comfort and security; unfortunately, for me, my Master’s avid support of Dan Kruger has undermined this ideal in Calhoun. I am not overly concerned by the political effects of the reception; while Dan is at the reception, Ben will be going door-to-door, as he does most nights, directly speaking to voters. This is emblematic of the differences between Ben and Dan, and if voters are perceptive of these distinctions, the results will manifest themselves on election day.

I just hope, however, that no Hounies have felt discouraged about their political views, or have felt pressured to adopt those of their Master. For now, I am happy to still be in Bingham, distanced from the political pressure being exerted by someone whose role I believed was to foster a close-knit environment, rather than to sway my vote or divide us along political lines.

Amia Srinivasan ’07

October 27, 2003