Letters

For what cause, O man, chargest thou me thy daily complaint? - Boethius

July 1990; page 10; Volume 1, No. 7
Polemicist

J-Prof responds to February article

Some of your readers still have the incorrect impression that I am not qualified (or ethical) to teach journalism, as was suggested by the reference to me in the: February Polemicist (Those who can't do, teach: Fear and loathing in the journalism school", p. 11).

Your story said I worked 30 years ago in public relations for Chicago's Mayor Daley but the story did not mention and the writers did not talk to the about the fact that I was fired from that job in public information because I advocated the adversary relationship between the government and the press (which you support); and ironically, I moved into a minority community (with no alternative press) on Chicago's West Side around Hull-House, not radically different from some aspects of the Blackland neighbors vs. UT, which you reported in the same issue.

I was battling for an advocacy press, for minorities, and against the inhuman redevelopment policies of Daley and liberal federal bureaucrats long before Daley et al were dropped in 1968 as darlings of the Kennedy Democrats and national media. I was working for media criticism, recruiting minority faculty at UT, creating courses for minorities, etc. long before they became more popular agenda items.

The old faculty media experience your article criticized may not always be useless in helping to understand the present. I have survived newspaper jobs in Houston, Kansas City, Albuquerque, Michigan, and suburban Chicago and Los Angeles, plus more than 25 years teaching in six U.S. journalism schools. I have shared that experience with students. What's wrong with living history and fighting battles and sharing that with students? Is that not preferable to teaching with no experience in the world we seek to improve?

Gene Burd, Ph.D
Assoc, Professor of Journalism

Polemicist responds:

The article in question did indeed misrepresent Burd's role on Mayor Daley's staff, and for this we repent. Polemicist would have run the letter in the last issue, but our complex filing system - i.e., piles of paper on the living room floor - prevented us from finding it at press time. Polemicist regrets the misrepresentation, and the delay.

 

Polemicist errs

The information you printed in your May 1990 issue ("We Hereby Chastise ... ", p. 2) concerning the Classics Department is completely inaccurate. Almost all members of the faculty signed Dean Meacham's petition (copy enclosed), as was clear from the list of names subsequently printed in the Daily Texan. I can't speak to the second petition because I was out of town that week. I can categorically assure you, however, that no petition was torn down.

When it comes to progressive hiring, we do more than sign petitions. We are one of the few departments that were able to successfully recruit a minority faculty member for the next year. There are less than a dozen minority classicists, and we are proud to be the only major classics department to have one on our staff. Furthermore, I have assisted in the SHARE recruitment program for minority students and have a strong record of identifying minority students for the Melton Fellowship in the Humanities.

Even a polemicist has got to check the facts. It was grossly irresponsible of you not to do so and I demand that you print an appropriate correction, if not my letter, in your next issue.

Karl Galinsky
Chairman, Classics Dept.

Polemicist responds:

Galinsky is correct in stating that all members of the classics department signed Dean Meacham's petition concerning the fraternities involved in racist acts. Our error resulted from a misunderstanding with a reliable source, and we regret it. But we were correct in writing that no one in the department had signed the other petition, created by the Black Student Alliance. That petition called for substantial reform in UT curriculum.

 

An open letter to Hal Box, Dean of Architecture

Dear Hal:

Regarding my meeting with you on May 3, several issues demand attention. As you pointed out and as my article stands corrected, Lorraine Rogers was not a friend of yours before she appointed you Dean of the School of Architecture. Thus, you insisted, your appointment and the work you do at the University are not "political."

The clarification of this fact, though, does not negate the political nature of your function. Your work could be defined strictly politically. For instance, the official position you presented to President Cunningham regarding the future of Anna Hiss Gymnasium included a short list of the names of architects whom you would recommend to design the new Molecular Biology Building erected in Anna Hiss's place. To the overwhelming majority of the students and faculty of your school who emotionally demand that Anna Hiss Gym be spared from destruction by U.T. research policy and preserved intact as it now functions, your position is a slap in the face. What is your motive for such a position, knowing that it hurts your integrity within your college?

Probably, your motivation and mode of operation have always agreed with official Administration policy. With its agreement, you achieved the physical transformation of the School of Architecture, costing over $20 million. By its policy, you approved the doubling of graduate students' tuition in April. Can your work be anything but political? On the issues most important to students, you have rejected their needs and demands in favor of U.T. System policy. The historical background of former-Dean Taniguchi underlines the political nature of your appointment, only six years after his pressured resignation.

And in 1988, you were re-appointed by President Cunningham after you had resigned and been thrown a farewell party, including presents. To the Dean Search Committee that researched your replacement for one year, your unannounced acceptance of reappointment was a breach of faith. Their participation meant nothing to the Administration.

When graduate students attempt to participate in the allotment of their doubled tuition, you say that students should "trust us" to spend it as appropriately as the original tuition. They cannot, however, since you approved the tuition hike that will make their education more difficult.

Taken outside of academia, your apolitical posturing is just as misleading. Do you really believe that, as a principal in a large Dallas firm, you spent hundreds of millions of clients' dollars with no political motivation? Developers do not spend their money in the name of your Art. Any architect who believes that her or his work is not enwrapped by power and economic relations is a pawn. She or he will not make Architecture for posterity, but Profits for speculators.

Mark Macek,
author of "The politics of campus planning,"
Polemicist, May 1990.
UT graduate, Spring 1990, Architecture