Don’t let up on politicians

No disrespect to either Jack Schlossberg (“Rally Behind the President,” Feb. 6) or President Reagan, but Schlossberg’s suggestion that Democrats adopt Reagan’s golden rule — the idea that one should not criticize a politician simply because of the letter beside their name — is absurd. If there is a legitimate criticism of a political figure, it should be heard and responded to. Presenting an incomplete picture of a political figure is at best misleading and at worst a good way to elect someone whose true positions people abhor.

Criticism is an integral tool for constituents’ voices to be heard by the politicians they elect. Without it, politicians have no reason to change their positions on important issues. It is all well and good for Republicans to criticize Democrats and vice versa, but the people whose opinions truly need to be heard by their elected officials are the people who actually vote them into office. If supporters of Democratic (or Republican) candidates don’t let their chosen politicians know which positions they agree with or disagree with through criticism, then it’s their own fault when they end up with an elected official who isn’t what they wanted.

Criticizing or choosing candidates based solely on party affiliation enables uninformed voting. Elections, whether at the local or presidential level, should not simply be viewed as a way to get your team into office. Instead, they should be used to vote into office the candidate whose platform includes the most ideas you believe in. Without criticism, a candidate’s true positions on these ideas might never be revealed, and their position on them will undoubtedly never change.

Sydney Shea

Feb. 8

The writer is a sophomore in Trumbull College.

Yale must come clean

As a Yale alumna and a Rhodes scholar, I am divided between allegiance to my alma mater, that standard bearer of “Lux et Veritas,” and shame that it now refuses to uphold the truth.

On Friday, the Rhodes Trust confirmed that Patrick Witt’s application had been suspended. Why didn’t University administrators counsel Witt to tell the truth? When he lied by omission, why didn’t they contest Witt’s version of events? I hope the University has an explanation, and that it is not privileging its public image above the truth.

If, as President Levin has said, “there is no place for any form of sexual misconduct on this campus,” students and alumni deserve an explanation as to why an allegation of sexual assault was not considered important enough to question Witt’s endorsement, or to report — in confidence — to the Rhodes Trust. Surely the selection committee was capable of recognizing that an informal allegation cannot ascertain guilt or innocence, and in the United States of America, one is innocent until proven guilty. This is an opportunity for institutional transparency, not only about Patrick Witt, but also about the sexual harassment policy in general.

The University would do well to follow Cecil Rhodes’s vision: “Fight the world’s fight.” Yale seems determined, at the moment, only to maintain the status quo.

Alice Baumgartner

Feb. 5

The writer is a 2010 graduate of Berkeley College.