The Gustavian Weekly

Letters to the Editor (4/25/2014)

By The Weekly Staff | April 25, 2014 | Letters to the Editor

In response to the removal of Chinese courses.

I am a Gustie Alumni and recently I heard from Professor Obermiller about the college in consideration of removing Mandarin Chinese lessons. I sincerely appreciate Gustavus for providing quality undergraduate educations to every Gustie and to have initiated the Mandarin course for our students.

My Gustie friends and my experience told me that Chinese is not as hard to learn as they presume. Conversely, students learn so much from Mandarin course beyond the language itself, pandas, or fortune cookie notes. Experience like this does not stop at the college graduation, as more and more companies start hiring candidates who have experience in Chinese culture and even in Mandarin language.

They would like employees to travel to China and know more about their business opportunities in China. If students are not provided a prep-level curriculum option, they will find expanding their global vision during post-college life more challenging.

Some may argue that Chinese course is hard to maintain due to the school size and limited funds. In fact, many other liberal art colleges in Minnesota have offered Chinese courses for a while. Those programs have been very successful. Their departments even actively reach out to other colleges and co-host conferences about Chinese cultures, where students and faculties can receive sufficient education about China.

The support from college education can help everyone become more aware of the fact that globalization as an on-going trend has been one of our daily topics since more than half a century ago, while till today people feel stunned about the huge gap between eastern and western world in terms of public policies, economics, and daily manners. This situation will change with our school’s support.

I hope the committee recognize the accomplishment the department has achieved on students and continue this program for everyone’s long-term benefit.

– Martin He ’12


In response to the Caf’s plan to go trayless on April 29.

The Caf is the place to be around campus.  One small change will take place next Tuesday, April 29. Gustavus will be going trayless for the day.  In 1998, Gustavus implemented the a la carte program for the Caf to eliminate food waste that often happens when one swipe of a card allows people to take as much food as they can eat —and more that gets thrown away.

In the late 2000s, trayless cafeterias became popular for many college campuses across the nation, including the University of Minnesota.  The point of these programs was to reduce food waste.  Gustavus did not implement this program, claiming that they had already reduced as much waste as possible with the a la carte program.  But what about water waste?

This is what we are going to find out.  On April 29, Gustavus is having its first “Trayless Tuesday”—a day designed to gather data about the amount of water saved and gain student opinions on the costs and benefits of a trayless Caf.

It is estimated that without trays, Gustavus would save approximately 240 gallons of water a day.  For an entire school year, it would be close to 37,200 gallons saved.

Besides the benefits of water saved, the Caf would save more than $3,500 each year in water, detergent, and heating.  The inconvenience of possibly having to go back for seconds into the Caf could counteract the benefits of going trayless.

However, for those concerned more about the environmental benefits, it could be worth it.  It is time for students and staff to voice their opinions. There will be a comment box in place of the trays on April 29.  Anyone who has an opinion one way or the other, is invited to comment so we can learn from this experiment.

– Laura Isdahl ‘17

Response to “Do We Need A Shift?”

Do we need a shift? Absolutely. The shift we need, however, isn’t one which focuses more on the achievements of a select few. There is far more to our world than millionaire athletes, actresses, and businessmen—in fact, there is about 99 percent more.

Self-actualization requires us to have some outward focus on the world around us—the whole world, not only one percent of it. I don’t disregard the progress resulting from the hard work of individuals such as Steve Jobs nor the dedicated work of athletes and entertainers but I am quick to refute the notion that they are more valuable, talented, or worthy of our attention than those whom we cannot find on a television screen.

As a society, we must shift to valuing people—all people. This would inspire us to find ways to ensure that all people have access to equal resources and equal choice to pursue their talents and passions, as self-actualization intends.

Further, equity of resource distribution would better society by empowering the vast number of disprivileged individuals who possess amazing capabilities to contribute to society.

It takes resources to become the next Steve Jobs, so those with privileged, unrestricted access are going to trample the opportunity for many others to self-actualize, unintentionally or otherwise.

Focusing on the earned or unearned achievements of a select few encourages the idea that those with “lesser” achievements don’t matter, nor does their suffering.

If certain individuals in society can claim to be self-actualized while simultaneously holding any disregard for the suffering of any member of society, then I question their true ability to understand themselves and their purpose in this world; and I blame society’s perceived incapacity to address world-wide suffering for teaching us to sell ourselves short.

– Christina Sand ‘15

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