On Sept. 14, 160 people lost their lives in the span of 24 hours due to terrorist bombings in Iraq. On the coast of the United States, millions of people lost their homes, thousands were missing and many were assumed dead. The Associated Press reported that we “had almost reached 1,900” referring to the 1,899 American lives lost in our efforts in the Middle East.
On Sept. 14 I learned that students were holding a candlelight vigil on campus. I am a strong proponent of a community coming together to mourn the loss of a loved one, to remember a tragic time and to collectively give thoughts about those in need or those who have passed. This candlelight vigil was for a tree.
The loss of the UC tree was sad to the UM community, and I am sure more so to those with significant ties to it. However, I believe human nature has taken a turn for the worse when we can, in good conscience and sound judgment, take time, effort and energy to mourn an inanimate object. It takes a bigger turn downwards when this can happen at a time when so many others need those energies, thoughts and prayers.
While some neo-liberals may have decided that tree mourning is an appropriate action, I pose a different approach. Next Spring, when finals are occurring, take time to remember May 8. When you are getting ready to come back to school, remember August 6.
For those of you have fallen victim to convenient remembrances, May 8 is VE day, celebrating the End of WWII in Europe. August 6 was the day “Little Boy,” the first deployed atomic bomb, was dropped on Hiroshima, killing 200,000. If you find yourself mourning objects, possessions or trees, stop and think for a second. Did you acknowledge these days? Let’s hope people of future generations give more time remembering the World Trade Center attacks and the people lost during Hurricane Katrina than this generation gives to events from our past.
Then again, maybe on Sept. 11, 2045, a group of UM students will congregate to cry over a dying bush.
Sam Phillips – Senior
Re: Living Wages for UNICCO workers
Stories of economic hardship and poor working conditions are always emotionally compelling; however, allowing oneself to be swayed by emotion with such issues can lead to counterproductive decisions that have a net negative gain to the community it affects. I fully support and respect the UNICCO workers and their advocates for using the democratic process to their advantage attempting to raise awareness and encourage response, but the other side of the coin should be represented as well.
UM is a private organization that works according to economic principles to expand itself and become a more formidable whole; with that in mind, it should not raise the wages of the UNICCO workers unless the net effect of doing such would go directly to that end goal of maximized benefit to the University. It is entirely possible that the University could make a calculated decision that it is its own best interest to raise the wages for a multitude of reasons, but absent of that finding, it should not be done.
The real problem facing the workers is one bigger than what the University can reasonably control: It is a problem present in the market that dictates UM can pay such wages to these people and still have a viable workforce. For those wishing to assist the UNICCO workers in securing “living wages,” other areas of our community and country should be scrutinized as well.
Don C. Donelson – BBA ’05