Seitelman confused on MassPIRG, abortion issues

To the Editor:

March 19, 1998:

This letter is in response to the letter entitled “MassPIRG decision best left up to individual” in your March 17 issue. The author of the said letter, Rob Seitelman, is obviously confused about a number of things, and I hope, if at all possible, to help clear up a few of them.

In his letter, Seitelman states that the recent vote to end MassPIRG’s now former method of collecting money “effectively does not allow us as students of Williams College to decide individually whether or not to support Mass PIRG.” This is not true. A Williams student who wishes to support MassPIRG, financially or otherwise, is still perfectly free to do so. Likewise, a student who does not wish to contribute is free to refrain (without ever lifting a finger).

Seitelman furthermore labels the recent measure voted in by the student body as “philosophically conservative” and claims that it calls to mind “Republican measures.” The recent student decision on MassPIRG is not only not a conservative one, it is not in any way political. It is simply a measure in the interest of fairness. It is not ethical for any political organization, be they MassPIRG or the Republican National Committee, to collect money by a system in which students must act in order not to give. Failing to turn in a waiver does not equal intending to make a donation, and it is ridiculous that the college ever allowed a policy that made the two effectively equal. Giving to political causes is not an activity that should be done by default.

Seitelman goes on to compare the MassPIRG issue to the national debate over abortion and implies that the recent vote to abolish the automatic MassPIRG charge is akin to a federal law that would make abortion illegal. He believes that both movements involve the restriction of the rights and freedoms of the individual by the many. Though Seitelman grants that the issue of abortion is more “intense” than that of MassPIRG funding, his comparison is still idiotic and mildly offensive. It can be debated whether a woman has the right to an abortion or whether an unborn child has the right to live, but not even the most dim-witted would contend that Mr. Seitelman has the right to have MassPIRG take his (or, more accurately, his parents’) money without any active participation on his (or their) part . It is not my intention to pick apart Seitelman’s tragically warped synopsis of the abortion debate. I merely wish to point the incredible foolishness and insensitivity of his comparison. He would be wise not to make it again in the presence of anyone who cares, either way, about abortion.

In case the rest of this letter is lost on Mr. Seitelman, let me summarize. Contributions to MassPIRG can be addressed to Student MassPIRG, S.U. Box 3181 or 29 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111 attn: Andy McDonald. If you wish to contribute, do so. (No one will stop you.) Otherwise, quit whining.

Ira Boudway ‘00

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