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Letters

Bayousphere Miles and miles: Ready-to-go float materials line the Clay Street warehouse of Parades Etc. of Texas Inc. After two Martin Luther King Jr. Day parades comes RodeoHouston.
Deron Neblett

Rice Inc.

Fuzzy future: I greatly appreciate the article on the corporatization of Rice and KTRU ["Spin Control," by Lauren Kern, January 11]. Thanks for your support of KTRU through an in-depth story. Also, thank you for being accurate with your facts. That seems to have been a problem in this controversy.

Will KTRU programming change? This is a scary, serious question that is not getting much attention, as we are all euphoric to have our beloved station back. I am hopeful that any changes will truly embody the will of the students. This controversy has done something incredible for KTRU in that it finally put the station in touch with the students.

I myself am still dazed over the incredible week that KTRU spent off the air. For a Rice student accustomed to insidious apathy, it was unbelievable. You should know about the war machine KTRU became, and see how the student body became outraged and took action for the first time in recent memory. We will continue to see what the effects of that week will be.

Thanks again. KTRU lives.

Jonathan Bourland
Houston

Like all the others: Thanks for your article on Rice. I have been incredibly disappointed by the recent changes that I perceive in Rice and its student body.

By the time I graduated in 1999, the student body seemed to have changed greatly -- been "Hilfigerized." While Rice is shooting to be a grand research institution, I think that it has become a second-tier, carbon-copy ivy league wanna-be, with high tuition and less competitive admissions. I think Rice has lost sight of its unique strengths.

I can't stand the administration's actions in steering Rice in this direction. Although I hardly ever listened to KTRU, its "50,000 watts of pan-banging" fit in perfectly with what Rice was in its prime. Giving to alumni-funded grants that foster creativity is an excellent way to bypass the Rice machine.

Reformatting KTRU for sports or concerts, or music decided by popular vote, is just a mini-instance of how the unique university culture at large has been mainstreamed. KTRU has become just like every other radio station; Rice has become just like every other university. What a shame.

Katherine Kuster
Seattle, Washington

Sexism revolt: Like many of my fellow students at Rice, I was deeply concerned at the way university administrators handled the recent KTRU conflict, and can appreciate some of the connections Lauren Kern's article made between this and university officials' increasing corporate-style moves to make the school more "competitive" in its "market."

However, Ms. Kern has oversimplified the issues into a dualistic system of radical "freedoms" versus administrative "control," when things are not nearly so cut-and-dried. Especially troubling to me is her conflation of "free speech" issues with questions of sexual harassment and hate speech.

It is simply untrue that opposition to popular "sexual" traditions like the college cheers was initiated by the administration in order to make it more palatable to potential contributors. In reality, changes toward a less sexist campus climate have come about through the hard work and struggle of students who were courageous enough to confront the issues openly. In painting an overly simplistic picture of what goes on at Rice, this article has contributed to a trivialization of women's issues that unfortunately is all too common.

Sarah Cloots
Houston

Time for the crime: I am the female Rice Thresher editor who was behind the April Fools' Day 1997 newspaper parody, the Trasher. While the article presents a well-written, balanced treatment of a complex situation, some details are omitted. It may appear to Press readers that I was meted out a lighter punishment than my co-editor -- and that we had no scruples about using university resources to roast a high-profile student.

I was, in fact, suspended and sentenced to the same 100 hours of community service as my male counterpart. The deal for lifting my suspension was negotiated prior to the following semester, and included disciplinary probation, the apology and service on an ad hoc committee established to determine the student newspaper's relationship to the university. The community service requirement remained intact as a part of my penalty.

It is important to emphasize that the Trasher is and was funded out of its creators' pockets and takes no money from either the university blanket tax or Thresher advertising revenues.

Marty Beard
Austin

Two stations: Those of us in Houston supporting the community diversity that has been a long tradition at KTRU appreciate the Houston Press's providing Houstonians with an alternate view not covered by the Chronicle or Rice University press releases regarding the conflict.

Having been a KTRU DJ and director during my three years at Rice (Hanszen '96), I admittedly am biased. What has been happening at Rice since my association with the university began in 1993 is exactly the same story told at the University of Arkansas (where I spent a year) and universities across the country. As the students form a great radio station, it is then seen as an "asset to the university." Eventually it becomes an arm of the university.

 

Lauren Kern is correct in the trend of universities becoming "Market-Model University"-based. This may be okay for a graduate business school, but for a university such as Rice espousing a true liberal education, I think not.

If KTRU refuses to bend to the will of the university, will it be closed because of a lack of "bottom line" profitability? Perhaps. The FCC license would still be held (by Rice) and after a "quiet time" reopened as the voice of the university.

What I would propose is to leave KTRU alone as student radio, and to found a second station as University Radio. Do not destroy what generations of students have created. Both the students' needs and the university agendas would be met peacefully, without conflict and disgrace to the ideals of Rice University.

Clayton Finney
Houston

Rodeo Rubbish

Clean up the message: I just think that two wrongs don't make a right. Although I do not agree with PETA about the rodeo ["Ad-verse Reaction," by Jennifer Mathieu, January 11], it does make some valid points. I think that a sexual ad like that in public is not a responsible, community-minded thing to do.

I do not want that type of message out there for the children of this community to see. I do, however, think that organizations such as PETA should be getting their message out; they just shouldn't be so trashy about it.

Angie Jeter
Houston

Thy Rod and Thy Staff

Mission aborted: I want to thank you for giving an alternative perspective to Rod Paige's stewardship of the Houston Independent School District [The Insider, "Days of Paige," by Tim Fleck, January 11]. In 1997 I was selected to chair the HISD Facility Advisory Committee, a body authorized by the Board of Education to implement a number of the recommendations of the state comptroller's performance review of HISD.

It soon became clear that the creation of the committee was mere window dressing for the comptroller, and that Paige never intended the group to fulfill its mission of community involvement and monitoring. Once the heat was off and the comptroller's auditors returned to Austin, the committee was promptly disbanded by HISD without any discussion with its members or any acknowledgement of their service.

John T. King
Houston

Retiring type: How I do enjoy reading the Houston Press on a weekly basis. The article about Rod Paige is wonderful. I assume someone has sent a copy to the Bush transition headquarters, for whatever difference it makes.

The important thing is that the federal Department of Education appears to have little ability to screw things up. Paige will have a smaller budget, fewer employees and really less control over the bureaucracy than he did at HISD. But he is a black face in a Republican administration eager to demonstrate how much it cares about minorities -- even if most of them didn't vote for George W. I give Paige maybe two years before retirement.

Dennis Oakes
League City

Spread the word: Thanks for this information on Rod Paige. We needed to hear his experience from people who know. Hope the mainstream papers around the country pick up some of this information.

Libby Breen
Altadena, California

Paige's free ride? There are individual examples of good journalism to be cited by individual reporters on occasion, but the media in this town has generally become journalistically and intellectually corrupt.

It has been particularly sad indeed to watch the Houston Chronicle's education coverage over the past eight years. It is as if that bureau made a conscious decision to be incompetent and/or willfully derelict in exercising even the basic standards of journalistic integrity for "beat" coverage.

It is a journalistic tragedy indeed when an understaffed community newspaper such as the Kingwood Observer and editor Cynthia Calvert take the lead as they have in reporting on charter-school scandals in the Houston region.

It is a tragedy when HISD gets such softy-wofty-cuddly-warm-and-fuzzy public relations treatment on its recently announced Texas Scholars Program initiative. Chronicle reporters could have taken the district's PR news release, jiggled it a tad and e-mailed the story in from a beach in Cancun. There wasn't even a pretense of journalism in it.

 

It is an intellectual abomination that citizens picked up a recent Chronicle to see a court reporter's story quoting Judge Michael McSpadden's blistering comments regarding HISD. Where in God's name have the Chronicle education reporters been?

It is a journalistic tragedy that the Chronicle's education reporters do puff pieces on what a group of University of Houston sociologists/apologists say about HISD at-risk minority student performance on SAT9 achievement tests, without even pretending to function in the independent role of newspaper.

Kathy Walt thinks the legislature has done a great job on higher education and gets a job with Rick Perry? After watching the Chronicle's pathetic news coverage of education issues over the past eight years, why should anyone expect anything else?

Long live the Houston Press. With KTRH's glory days buried in Garvin Berry's casket and The Houston Post sold off for 40 pieces of silver, the Houston Press is it in this town.

George Scott
Katy

Chicken-Fried Fanatic

Soppin' it up: I want to commend you on a great article ["Chicken-Fried Honor," by Robb Walsh, January 11]. No way would I label myself an expert on the chicken-fried steak, but I am more than happy to proclaim my love for the Texan dish. Thank you, too, for the brief history lesson on the chicken-fried steak. You've enlightened and educated many with the piece.

Keep up the great reviews and wonderful columns.

David Monroe
Houston


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