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Letters from the week of September 27, 2001

Fight Clubs
Sonic youth: I read C.J. Janovy's "Bully Clubs" (September 13) with much delight. From what I witnessed "as one of the dozens of diverse citizens," it was the KCPD's cordoning of Westport Road that created the infamous sidewalk congestion there.

Contrary to mainstream representations, it appears that the police carry a badge of fear and a utility belt accessorized to intimidate. The only racially charged comments I heard came from intoxicated Caucasian bar hoppers, whose sophomoric displays seem to be considered benign by the merchants and City Hall "overseers."

As to Janovy's insights regarding a much-needed all-hours club for youth of all ages, be reminded we live in a town whose nascent power structure has a potent appetite for denial and whose yearnings for "remote control" far outweigh any civic gesture of tolerance. Janovy is the only public voice yet to mention another part of the problem: the police-state mentality behind the city's inane 1991 anti-youth curfew. Today's "kids" aren't the enemy, despite systems and generations who attempt to marginalize them. Are many of us "adults" so far from our youth to have forgotten the vibrant expressions of inner humanity and exuberance that are defined by its context?

For those of a religious persuasion who insist that the youth "just need to see the light," I remind them that we live in a multireligious society and that any "faith-based" approach should not only be interdenominational and interfaith, but should include agnostics and atheists who also share a stake in this "citywide" concern.

C.J. Janovy, thank you for your fairness, open-mindedness and desperately needed advocacy for those in our city who need it the most.
Patrick Sumner
Kansas City, Missouri

Schools of Thought
Follow the leader: Kendrick Blackwood's article on UMKC's blueprint process was dead-on ("Brain Wash," September 20). I'm a UMKC staff member and all my coworkers are brainwashed into believing Chancellor Gilliland is the second coming. They will not even listen to a single shred of proof otherwise.

I feel like I'm persecuted because I don't stand behind the "transformation" on the grounds that no actual problems are being solved. As I see it, the whole thing is a bunch of rhetoric devised to do two things: 1. Make it impossible not to participate at the expense of peer respect, ridicule and, eventually, job loss; and 2. To avoid actually doing anything that may solve an actual (not imagined) problem.

I do not have any protection from being dropped at the mere mention of dissatisfaction, so I am forced to either shut up or pretend like I'm on the bandwagon. I can only hope that Chancellor Gilliland goes the way of so many of the deans she forced out. I'd attend that blueprint celebration any day.
Name Withheld Upon Request
Kansas City, Missouri

The joy of est: The chancellor fired the dean of the School of Biological Sciences because he did not wholeheartedly support the blueprint process? If I hadn't seen it in print, the implication would be laughable. Does anyone at the Pitch actually think that the chancellor is so powerful that she could survive such an act of hubris against a much-respected dean and get away with it? With a 41-0 vote against her by the faculty? In my opinion, long-term, UMKC and its students were well-served. Now, it might have been handled better, but I find unpopular but necessary decision making refreshing.

The entire article is nothing but opinions except for the background on est and the Gordon Starr connection, which I found interesting, not surprising. Details about "practical problems" would be nice. Why no books? Did the textbook orders come from the academic units in time? Did the bookstore sit on them? Are there real problems at UMKC? You bet. Is either the blueprint process or StarrCo one of them? Hardly.

Blueprint in a nutshell: Hold yourself and others to a higher standard; be courteous and respectful of each other; create your own future. This is good advice for anyone: faculty, staff, students and journalists.

I've been at UMKC for fifteen years and in the administrative center for seven. I'm also a member of the extended cabinet and one of the transformed. I don't agree with everything the chancellor does or doesn't do. I also don't feel that everything I see from the upper administration follows the transformation tenets that we are being asked to model. However, I also fail to see what is wrong with an organization wanting to become an immense source of pride to its community.
Brian McKeever
Kansas City, Missouri

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