“Graduate students at all institutions can organize on their campuses without recourse to the NLRB.”

Slaves to the System but Free to Organize

Re “And All I Got Was This Lousy PhD” by Deanna Isaacs, The Business, May 1

The members and supporters of Graduate Students United would like to thank Deanna Isaacs for her sensitive and sympathetic treatment of student labor and funding issues at the University of Chicago, as well as in the city’s universities and colleges more broadly. Readers who would like more information about these issues, such as our current organizing drive, should check out our Web site: uchicagogsu.org/index.html.

In the meantime, we were slightly concerned that folks might misinterpret the current legal playing field and jump to conclusions that there was no possibility for graduate labor organizing. At present, the NLRB in no way bans student organizing. It has refused to recognize or enforce any collective bargaining rights on behalf of graduate student unions at private universities, but graduate students at all institutions can organize on their campuses without recourse to the NLRB. And in public institutions, which are subject to state legislation, collective bargaining rights have been consistently upheld. Of course, it would be far better if the NLRB acknowledged the obvious and recognized that graduate student workers are university employees. There are some reasons for hope: it is predicted that a change in administration next year would reverse the NLRB decision, and Ted Kennedy has recently proposed legislation that would overturn it. But until then, those interested in the future of their universities will continue to organize without waiting for the NLRB, using the best means available to us, such as your fantastic article in the Reader.

Graduate Students United

On What We Represent

I wanted to take a moment to say that I am appalled at the lack of minority representation in your newspaper. The only recent article that come to mind was the story on Reginald Berry [“Hell in a Cell” by Jeffrey Felshman, April 24]. I was taken aback by how much your paper missed the mark with the story on Reginald Berry. I actually have worked with Berry at CCIL [the Chicago Christian Industrial League], and I can honestly say, I have never seen him out of a suit. Why did your paper want to reinforce the stereotype of what a black man, who has faced incarceration, looks like? Why did he have to appear in a tank top, showing off tattoos, and wearing gold jewelry? This just feeds into the stereotype. There was nothing redemptive about the piece—it almost glorified his past. Regardless, please know that over 60 percent of Chicago is Latino, black, or Asian. Who would think that based on what your paper covers? We enjoy your paper as much as white people. We go to the restaurants you review, the shows you cover, and the events you highlight. We live in Bucktown, Rogers Park, Andersonville, Pilsen, Lincoln Park, and all of the areas of the city your paper obviously favors. We care about the same issues that other people are facing so why not reflect that diversity? Please know that your readers of color are just as sophisticated and educated as your white readers and we want to see stories, covers, and highlights that reflect us. If you need some ideas let me know I would be happy to share. I understand that your advertisement revenue is geared towards white Chicagoans. I get that part and understand it must put you in a tricky situation. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to make an effort. We want to be heard too. We love the Reader and want to be part of it. Thank you kindly for your time.

Albert Tanquero

The editors reply:

Reginald Berry decided for himself how to dress for our photo shoot.

Big Game Territory?

Re “What Are You Doing Here?” by Stephen J. Lyons, May 1

I wonder if cougars ever really disappeared from the midwest or were merely hiding in rural areas or too few in number to assess. Obviously, increased population in the west will drive these animals into other areas—midwest, southeast, Canada, etc. At some point, if the numbers grow, they will be hunted like deer and turkey.

Paul T

If cougars are going to gradually be revisiting the Chicago area a sanctuary for them should be developed. Wildlife experts will be needed to humanely tranquilize the cougars with pellet guns. The cougar sanctuary can be very educational for people of all ages. The cougars can feast on cruelty-free soy and veggie venison treats. An idyllic cougar haven should be a place where nobody gets hurt.

Brien Comerford


Thank You, Steve Bogira

I have just read the October 20, 2006, piece titled “Who Killed Ryan Harris?” online by Steve Bogira and would like offer my thanks for fine journalistic work. His piece is illuminating, well researched, well written, and altogether a credit to his ability and dedication as a journalist. On a personal note, I am a second-year law student who hopes to someday work for a prosecutor’s office in a large metropolitan area, and in my future career I will remember the lessons of the Ryan Harris case and encourage officers to investigate all crimes, and examine all theories, to the fullest.

Richard Dean Eckley

Goldberg’s Views on the Left and the Right

Re “Liberal Fascism?” by Michael Solot, book review, March 20

While I thought your review was better than most, it misses the most compelling points of [Jonah Goldberg’s] book. They are:

1. Conservatism has clear roots to Edmund Burke, John Locke, and the Enlightenment.

2. Modern liberalism has more in common with fascism, statism, and socialism, which more often leads to control and abuse.

3. Conservatism is constructionist while ML is by nature deconstructionist and revolutionary and therefore more naturally like fascism especially in a classically liberal country like the U.S.

These are facts.

While you had a lot of good things to say about the book your last paragraph was gratuitous. You seemed to think you ought to say something more negative. The book is highly imaginative since few seem to be able to imagine its conclusions.

Gene Nouhan