University staff shoulder massive workload to hold the line against decaying structures

In regards to your article in the Monday edition discussing the costly maintenance problems in many of our campus buildings, I would like to point out a story within the story: the tremendous effort that has been required of the rank and file Facilities Management staff. I see it every day from my perspective at the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in Jimenez Hall, one of the buildings mentioned in the article. It is quite accurate to say the facilities workers have been holding the line against all the symptoms of decaying infrastructure.

The language school went through a major space reallocation this summer because of expansion of staff and programs. That project required the cooperation, support and detailed coordination of several entities on the campus including Inhouse Construction, HVAC, campus electricians, the housekeeping staff, Building Security Services, Network Telecommunications, Environmental Safety, Procurement and Supply and others on the campus. The people who work in these departments are real professionals. They have a tremendous amount of work to do and, as the article pointed out, limited resources to get it done. And yet, they make strenuous efforts to complete work on time and in a highly proficient manner.

I want to express my thanks to all of these workers for the assistance they have provided us. I especially hope students understand how much respect is due to these employees, some of our hardest working and least appreciated people on this campus. Never, ever take them for granted.

Mike Fekula

Program Management Specialist

School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Sudan issues need greater coverage, attention from The Diamondback

On Thursday, more than 130 students gathered in solidarity and outrage for the 400,000 lives lost thus far in the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

The vigil was co-sponsored by 18 different student organizations including Amnesty International, the Black Student Union, Tzedek Hillel, Community Roots and the Muslim Students Association. The student population, across all cultural and political lines, has declared the issue to be of grave and immediate importance.

Representation from multiple student publications including the Mitzpeh, the Black Explosion and The Diamondback were at the vigil and witnessed the enthusiasm of the student population on this issue. Unfortunately however, the editors of The Diamondback decided the obliteration of an entire people and culture was only worthy of a blacked-out picture on the second page.

As we have seen throughout history, the student voice can be the most influential force for political and social change. As leaders of the Sudan Coalition, we call upon The Diamondback to take responsibility and be our voice.

Avital Parness

Chair of the Sudan Coalition


Letters and Sciences


Shira Schwartzberg

President of Tzedek Hillel


Individual Studies Program

Senate should be moving forward with student bill of rights

More than 200 years ago, the founding fathers created the Bill of Rights for a reason: to protect the citizens of this country. Why is it, then, that the University Senate is so skeptical about drafting a student bill of rights, when 15 years ago predecessors of this very same governing body unanimously approved the document?

I don’t see why the senate isn’t moving forward with this issue. It’s a no-brainer! We’ve already been sued once by the ACLU. How many more lawsuits until we decide an official document is necessary? Unless the rights are on the book, it doesn’t make sense to tell students they have rights when those rights aren’t protected by any legal document.

Let’s not have a repeat of the en masse, blind charges that occurred in Somerset Hall two years ago (“Handling of Somerset party draws questions,” Nov. 18, 2003) when students who weren’t involved in the incident and were out of town were charged with violations, and those who were involved were not aware of their rights.

The senate should look at the 1989 version of the document and the proposed changes made by university alumnus and former ACLU-UM president Stuart McPhail and settle the issue instead of prolonging it even further.

This is not something the senate should put on the back burner. It is one of the few issues to come before the senate this year and is undoubtedly one of the most important. (The body recently canceled its first meeting citing lack of legislation to vote on.)

Students need to know they have rights recognized by the university.

Jahantab Siddiqui

President, University Commuters Association


Government and politics