UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Letters to the Editor

No Fashion Sense

Dear Mass Media, The University of Massachusetts is a reputable school, and its school paper should reflect this. Sadly, however, the most recent issue (9/17/07) does not hold these standards. Actually, let me rephrase that. The most recent issue would hold these standards if it were not the massive two-page color spread smack dab in the middle entitled “Fall Fashion Trends”.

I don’t mean to be petty and focus on something as trivial as fashion. This issue had plenty of articles with subject matter of much greater importance. For example, the cover story (“The Big Squeeze”) focused on a matter that really affects the student population – not to mention, the photo editing on the cover really conveyed the feelings of frustration felt by our fellow classmates. It was nice work. However, seeing as how the “Trends” piece was the only part in color (aside from the cover and the back) and the fact that it covered two full pages, it deserves a bit more scrutiny than a normal fluff piece merits.

A quick internet search reveals the definition of the word trend as a “general direction in which something tends to move”. So, if something is a fashion trend, it would be a fashion we will see being adopted in the near future, as opposed to fashions we will soon see fading out or moving away from. Amy Julian pretty much manages to be completely wrong on every item she designates as a “trend”. Had she labeled these simply “fall fashions” or “fall styles” she would be at least a little more accurate.

I will concede that Julian’s trends #1 and #2 for women could be considered as such. While both items are a bit dated by a year or two, they probably have not yet reached their peak – but there is no need to split hairs. Julian did put forth a little effort by identifying that the major clothing companies are starting to really push the wide leg pants. This may actually become a trend, so in that sense she may be right. Then why is there a picture of wide leg jeans? Pants and jeans are quite different and, unless it’s 1994, that picture doesn’t fit any trends I am aware of. While we are on the subject of items pictured in this piece, what’s up with the picture for trend #4? She’s writing about belts and flats next to a picture containing packs of gum, movie tickets and I think there might even be a toothbrush in there, huh? And big bags? Yes, it’s true, celebrities in fashion magazines do sport them quite a bit and they have been for quite a LONG time now.

I could go on to point out the absurdity of calling hoodies, boot-cut jeans and school gear (seriously, did anybody even edit this?) trends, but I think my point is made. In the future, please don’t bring down the credibility of our school paper with giant fluff pieces that should only exist in the high school newspapers of the world.


Jewish Presence at UMB

Dear Mass Media, For Jewish people, these past two weeks have been some of the most important of the year. Rosh Hashona, a solemn feast day celebrated on the 1st or 1st and 2nd of Tishri, the Jewish calendar month corresponding to September in the English calendar, is noted for the blowing of the shofar. The shofar signals to the commun-ities satisfying the mitsvot, or commandments, and provides the means to communicate with the Higher Power, to appeal for the congregants to be inscribed once more in the Book of Life.

Following Rosh Hashona is Yom Kippur, “the Day of Atonement”, a day of fasting wherein we seek to atone for our sins and transgressions small or large. Those who are more strictly religious have many more fast days throughout the year, such as the fast of Esther during Purim, an early springtime holiday to commemorate the fast Esther undertook before going to the King of Persia to discuss the plight of the Jews who Haman, a court advisor, sought to have killed en masse. It was not the first time the Jews narrowly escaped annihilation. Jews have also experienced persecution such as the Progroms of Russia and the Ukraine, which exposed them to rape, murder, the desecration and destruction of property and religious sites, and other torments.

It is sad that today, despite all this small population have been through, people of Jewish descent continue to face scapegoating, intolerance, and hate crimes. Anti-Semitism has caused anguish, terror, and the need to hide identities and heritage, and in some cases to lose sight of heritage and traditions altogether. It is this type of atmosphere that has forced those in Russia, those of my heritage, to totally blend into the Communist state and later compelled them to emigrate to the U.S. and other countries. Thus it is that much more terribly sad that scapegoating and to some extent, though more subtle and discrete, stereotyping continues to compel many Jews to hide their identities in a land which is typified by religious freedom and tolerance, where President Washington welcomed Jewish people to the shores here to practice their religion openly.

Even in the relatively stress-free environment of UMass Boston there appears to be a covert suppression of Jewish life, community, and activities, and the near invisibility of even a modest Jewish population. This is disturbing to those who have spent time on campuses with vibrant a Jewish life, and at least some options in terms of a community to share common experiences with.

Also disturbing is the fact that signs of religious services for the high holidays were posted the weekend prior to Rosh Hashona and taken down. I do not know if this was a malicious or anti-Semitic act or merely someone carelessly removing someone else’s event notice, but it still evokes a concern why these 2 signs were taken down while others remained up.

I would like to ask others on this campus to respond and send in their comments to introduce their opinions or interpretations about why there is a total void and lack of Jewish presence, life, or activities on this campus. Other campuses with modest Jewish populations still manage to have active Jewish organizations such as Hillel (which is present here but inactive). I hope the environment improves for Jewish students and that student life is invigorated in general on the UMass campus. I think it is also important for groups to learn more about one another and to have events that provide such important opportunities.

I welcome comments or insights about these issues and concerns, and hope to see more tolerance, open expression, and embracing of the spiritual aspects of other people’s identities by the truly diverse students on this campus, who each have stories to tell and unique contributions to make to the campus community.

-Name withheld by requestAll letters submitted to The Mass Media are subject to editing for space considerations and become our property forrr-evarrrrr