Letter to the Editor: Response to "Age language barrier"

Gregg Brekke, Assistant Professor

World Languages and Cultures



The Whitworth article “Age language barrier” makes the false claim that it is “likely ineffective” for adults to learn a second language.

There are many researched reasons why the writer’s conclusion is false, and why learning a second language as an adult is attainable. Here are just three (of many) reasons:

First, the writer of the article misuses Dr. Stephen Krashen’s research. Krashen actually argues that adults learn language in almost the same way as children, and given the right amount of comprehensible language input, an adult can reach fluency in a natural way. Older people effectively learn additional languages every day, around the world.

Second, comparing the first year of language learning, university-level second language learners will acquire the language quicker than children. This is because teens and adults can apply abstract principles to languages. So initially, learning a second language in university is more effective than learning it as a child!

Third, while children do learn vocabulary quicker, teens and adults can learn abstract vocabulary that children don’t master until 10-13 years of age. Children learn a much more simplified vocabulary and interact with peers who do not use the language in complex social circumstances requiring deep cultural knowledge. They “grow into” the language and culture at the same time, over many years, but older learners can master culture more quickly. Classes at Whitworth teach “grown-up” language, appropriate for adult settings, making the language and cultural learning richer and more developed. You even have the opportunity to travel and use your new language to make friendships and socialize.

So take heart! You can learn a second language as an adult, and our Whitworth professors are specially trained to help you do that as effectively as possible!


Letter to the Editor: Marching for life on the front lines

Mattie Bond, ‘18
Co-President of Whitworth Students for Life

On Jan. 28, people from across the Northwest, including me and around a dozen other students from Whitworth University, gathered at Walk for Life Northwest to celebrate life, peacefully protest Roe vs. Wade, and change hearts and minds for the pro-life cause.

After a moving speech from Rev. Walter Hoye, a national pro-life leader and predominant member of the black pro-life community, attendees began to peacefully march through the streets of downtown Spokane.

Whitworth Students for Life, along with Gonzaga Students for Life, stood at the beginning of the march, leading the way and encouraging marchers behind and around us to chant and sing. Chants included phrases like, “We are the pro-life generation,” and, “Roe vs. Wade has got to go.” Several of my friends started up a joyous rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Closer to the end of the march, a friend and I proudly sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”

There were nearly 1,000 people who came together in Downtown Spokane to participate in Walk for Life Northwest. I was proud to stand with friends and strangers of various races, ages, religions, genders, political parties, and walks of life as the “pro-life generation.”

As many of my friends and fellow club members have pointed out, this was truly a movement of love. Love for women, love for children, and love for life were proudly proclaimed by all involved in the event, and were the thread that tied us all together.”

Letter to the editor on the electoral college

Josh Tuttle, ‘17

I am writing in response to the recent article on the Electoral College in the Nov. 9 issue. What I think a lot of people forget about the Electoral College is that it is designed specifically to protect a minority interest. If you look at the breakdown of nearly every election, congressional or presidential, the split isn’t actually between red states and blue states. The split is between rural populations and city populations.

City dwellers and rural citizens have immeasurably different lifestyles, and this is reflected in a different set of political beliefs, answering to the obvious but often overlooked fact that rural populations have different needs than urban population centers. My liberal friends often scream at the thought of rural policies being foisted upon them, but they almost never stop to recognize the fact that applying urban policies to rural populations without regard for their differing needs is going to affect rural communities just as negatively as the reverse.

By definition, urban centers are densely populated, and by headcount will always dwarf rural populations. The usual liberal outcry is that they don’t want policies they disagree with forced upon them, but it’s a one-way street. If the usual follow up is that the evil Republicans are clearly either crazy or stupid, then the left is refusing to accept the possibility that any opposition can be principled. It’s not hard to understand why we are so divided right now.
Systems that limit the extent to which city populations can steamroll the political voice of rural populations are essential.


Letters to the editor of 250 words or less can be submitted to kandersen18@my.whitworth.edu.

Letter to the editor: Elect third party, locally and nationally

Many people from our generation are unhappy with the two main presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and, unsurprisingly, many of us are planning on staying home this November. While I share the same resentment that many other millennials have toward the two main party candidates, there are still other ways that we can improve our lives and communities through the ballot.

The Spokane County Libertarian Party nominees, Randy McGlenn and James Apker, are running to represent Spokane in the Washington State House and Senate, respectively. McGlenn’s platform entails using budget planning “that aims to reduce waste while focusing on budget priorities, such as education” and Apker wants to promote vocational college fields that “will help place graduates into entry level jobs with less student loan debt.”

In a September Quinnipiac University poll among voters between 18 and 34 years old, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson was at 29 percent, only two points behind front-runner Hillary Clinton. The libertarian message of lower taxes, fiscal conservatism, and social inclusiveness is resonating well with our generation. Voting for our local Libertarian Party candidates will help create a friendly economic environment for our generation and send a message that the future generation is adopting libertarian values.

Many thanks,

Haitham Al Mhana, ‘17

Letters to the Editor: "Whitworth: Cut Ties with Planned Parenthood"

Planned Parenthood is a family planning clinic focused on sexual health care. It is not an organization that simply "tears apart a living human being limb-from-limb." They provide STI tests, contraception and other services to make it easier for sexually active people, who guess what? Go to Whitworth! That's right! People at Whitworth have sex! Who knew?! People at Whitworth have received abortions. And I guess no one cared to mention in this article all the other amazing work Planned Parenthood does. It is a myth that most of what Planned Parenthood does is conduct abortions. There has been a fair share of skewed misinformation released thanks to Republican news outlets over the last several years that have claimed that abortion amounted to more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood activities when in fact that is completely false. This type of argument entirely ignores all of the vital good this organization does for lower-income women's reproductive health.

It is not a man's place to decide what a woman does with her body. It is a woman's basic right to make the heart-wrenching choice to have an abortion. The argument that James makes is perpetuating the oppressive stance in opposition to a woman's right to choose by politicians who think they have a right to make women's most personal, sensitive health care decisions for them.

It is disturbing that those who believe in anti-abortion — or rather, pro-fetal-life at all costs — do not consider extremely difficult situations that would still ban abortions with no exemptions, not even in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the woman is threatened. Male politicians and men in general, do not have the authority to dictate a woman's most sensitive reproductive health care decisions. Many times "pro-life" conservative views actually resonate more with anti-abortion and no matter how hard people try to argue against this, it's still so hard for me to believe in many cases that conservatives like the columnist of this opinions article is actually pro-life. From where I am standing, it seems as though "life" to you is one that bears a very striking resemblance to someone like you — it seems to me that you are very pro-straight, white Christian fetuses. The unborn are easy to advocate for because you can idealize them into something palatable for you. If that life eventually comes out as an LGBTQ member, converts to Islam, has brown skin, lives in Inner City Detroit, or several other situations, you will label it as dangerous, see it as a threat, tell it where and when it can use a public bathroom, readily blame it for its own execution and oppression, and tell it to pull itself up by its own bootstraps when you are a part of a system that does not allow it to get the boots at all. In the US, it's not a secret that men determining laws and regulations surrounding abortion are overwhelmingly white and they continue to make paternalistic, ill-informed, epistemologically distorted decision on behalf of women, especially lower status, less privileged, poor women of color.

Conservative views like those of James Silberman are easy to debunk, but it's also important to note that we might be missing the bigger point. The assault on Planned Parenthood is not just about the crushing of baby body parts, but also a larger war on women. Conservative efforts try to push abstinence-only education, (which does not work), to shut down family planning clinics, and even refusing to fund programs that have been reducing teen births like the award-winning IUD program. To me, it just sounds like conservatives have a goal to make sexual health harder for women, especially low-income women, to have happy and healthy sex lives.

When it comes to women's rights, especially with respect to sex and reproduction, you really should just leave it to women. In many cases, women do not feel comfortable talking about their abortions because they don't want to be shamed or ridiculed, something that the author of this article clearly did.

I wish all human beings actually mattered this much to you. If they did, I think you would be doing much more than preventing abortions. You'd want to prevent racism and bigotry and homophobia. You would want to support single parents and you'd want religious freedom even for people who aren't Christian. You'd want people of color not to have to fear law enforcement and not to be disproportionately incarcerated. You'd want a living wage for all people who work hard and healthcare for children that won't have to replace daily meals.

No one against your article is celebrating abortions. No one likes abortions. However, my advocacy for life goes well beyond the womb and I wish James, that your advocacy would too.

Also — A reminder that it's not only women who get abortions, and we should include folks like trans men, non-binary people, and gender non-conforming folks in the conversation too! Abortion rhetoric is highly gendered. Rarely is it even acknowledged that abortion patients are not exclusively cis women. The fact that abortion is so often framed from a privileged perspective means that those who are marginalized in other ways are not being heard and their stories aren't seen as important. We [need to] recognize that cissexism within reproductive rights activism and stand with trans people.

— Camina Hirota '17

The Pinecone Curtain: Synonymous with Censorship?

I typically do not write editors in response to opinion pieces, but James Silberman’s uniformed article calling for Whitworth to cut ties with Planned Parenthood took it too far.

My first issue has to do with the research and quality of information presented in the article. Not only does Silberman spew uncorroborated statistics, but one article he quotes from had a corrigendum due to “discrepancies of [their] analyses pertaining to abortion and mental health,” and thus is not a reliable source. The information provided is not only unfounded, but could also have harmful outcomes by keeping people away from the helpful services Planned Parenthood does provide, abortions aside. 

Looking past the poorly conducted research and the misrepresentation of Planned Parenthood, what I find most egregious is seeing the Whitworthian publishing a piece advocating for censorship on a university campus.

At the end of the piece Silberman calls for “Whitworth trustees, administration, and applicable faculty to… remove Planned Parenthood from list of community partners… remove planned parenthood cards from campus walls… review the textbooks being used in classrooms. Discuss content… consider getting new books…”

Is that not censorship?

College is intended to be a place for learning and growth. It is a place to be exposed to different points of view – not a place to be coddled and protected from reality.

In Whitworth’s Commitment to Diversity they claim to seek to “model Christ’s love across racial, ethic, socio-economic, religious and other expressions of human difference.” Whitworth is committed to diversity, but what Silberman is encouraging Whitworth to do – cut ties with Planned Parenthood and censor them out from textbooks, would extinguish diversity of thought.

- Olivia Domini '14

Planned Parenthood is not a "human butcher shop"

As an alumnus of Whitworth, an employee of Planned Parenthood and most importantly — a female, I am incredibly disappointed in the Whitworthian for allowing such a misinformed and harmful piece like this to be published. I found the recent op-ed to be extremely offensive and distasteful. It is a vicious attack on all women, everywhere, who have ever utilized the services that Planned Parenthood offers, which of course, is no one’s business but their own. By concluding that Whitworth supports the “abortion industry” because they have partnered with Planned Parenthood to allow students to intern and volunteer there is a far-fetched correlation, at best. I feel it necessary to also acknowledge that Planned Parenthood is not the cause of abortion, Planned Parenthood was a solution to the unsafe abortion practices happening. Over these next few paragraphs I would like to touch on the considerable amount of misinformation and blatant lies disseminated in the article to the Whitworth campus and community.

By suggesting that Whitworth cut ties with Planned Parenthood as a service-learning organization, remove info cards around campus, and remove textbooks that reference abortion related services, you are completely closing the doors for healthy and informational dialogue to take place. Isn’t the purpose of the service-learning program at Whitworth to engage students in critical and creative thinking and structured reflection? Pushing such blatantly partisan narrative seriously harms the well-being of females across campus, who actually do need a place like Planned Parenthood to turn to in time of need. Not only is the female population affected by such propaganda, but the opportunity for their male peers to learn and fully engage as supportive allies in a women’s right to choose is completely dismantled. Of course, this is concluding that the only services Planned Parenthood offers is abortion services which is not the truth, nor anywhere near it.

It was stated that Planned Parenthood only provided three different pregnancy-specific services, of which “323,99 out of 343,422” are abortions. I vigorously searched for the data that backed this statement and was unsuccessful. By mentioning only pregnancy-related services, you’re completely discrediting the abundance of other services Planned Parenthood has to offer. Planned Parenthood offers a number of reproductive health services for women, tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections for both men and women, and counseling on a number of issues. Only three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services. If abortion is ultimately the issue, then wouldn’t it be counter-productive to take away information from campus for females to find a safe and affordable place to receive birth control and counseling on safe sex practices?

While the author states that the, “willful blindness to the realities of abortion in a university textbook is astonishing” and the real ‘tragedy’ is that the “students in these classes are being fed malicious lies,” I think its quite apparent to see that the only real tragedy here is that someone actually believes himself to know what is best for Whitworth and females across campus, considering he himself, does not have a uterus. It has been proven time and time again that when young people have affordable, safe and easily accessible resources to birth control and other prevention services, the rate in unplanned pregnancies and spread of STI’s will dramatically decrease. Prevention is key here and cutting ties to an organization like Planned Parenthood will result in higher rates of young people practicing unsafe sex. I encourage readers to engage more critically with information around them to come to better informed opinions. Planned Parenthood is a wonderful organization, that for many women, is their only source of reliable healthcare. Abortion accounts for a small fraction of what they do, and those who try and paint them as merely an “abortion clinic” harm only the women who often desperately need their services. We must acknowledge the truth — Whitworth students have sex, so let’s make sure that the resources to be safe about it are there for everyone to use.

— Lena Negrete '13

Letter to the editor: I live in Detroit

A response to Whitworthian article Inner City Lives Matter

Every few years at Whitworth, a predictable cycle tends to occur. A student, full of excellent intentions and armed with a newly acquired sense of confidence upon entering college, finds his or her opportunity to demonstrate this confidence in the student newspaper. Most of the time, he/she focuses on their gaze on issues directly relating to the campus, to the discussion occurring in their classrooms and dorms that makes Whitworth such an amazing place to spend four years. Occasionally, however, fueled by the political discourse that dominates our social media outlets, this student decides to apply his/her new found college knowledge to the current discussion of race relations in our country, drawing evidence for their beliefs from their extensive experience of marginalization as a white, middle class, college educated student in the upper northwest. The current result of this phenomenon is an article titled Detroit’s disadvantage, published in last weeks Whitworthian.

Before I go any further, please understand this. I am a white, middle-class, proudly Whitworth educated male. Understand that everything I am about to say would be written off as an angry __________ (fill in demographic category here) if I identified as anything else. Understand that patient and wise people of color have taught everything I will describe to me over these next few paragraphs.

And please understand that I live in Detroit.

Without hesitation, the author takes my home and tells my Alma Mater that Detroit is bankrupt, crime ridden, with failing schools and rampant drugs and violence. Which seems restrained after the author goes on to describe the people of Detroit, my friends and family, as broken families; poor, black, and hopeless. He/she finishes particularly eloquently, prescribing that “life in the inner city sucks.”

People from Detroit don’t talk about their city like that.

People who only see Detroit on the nightly news tend to.

While I could spend the rest of the article discussing why talking about a city that you have never been to and a context you do not understand is dangerous, I would rather spend my time dealing directly with some of the considerable misinformation disseminated in this article to the Whitworth campus.

The author spends the majority of his article laying out the claim that the rejection of the Republican Party by black/urban America is the primary cause for the decline of our urban centers. The argument goes, that if urban America had only embraced

the ideals of low regulations, disenfranchised the labor unions and elected Republican mayors, Detroit would have never gone bankrupt (among other things).

It is a compelling argument, if one entirely forgets the history, politics, and context of urban America the 60s.

Following WWII, Detroit was the 4th largest city in America with over 2 Million residents. Informed by the massive overcrowding of the city, and the lack of housing, black residents where legally confined to three dense neighborhoods, the largest known as Paradise Valley. Due to the aforementioned overcrowding, middle class black families were eager to move out, which the advent of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King gave them an opportunity to do. For the first time, Black families could buy a house anywhere in the city.

What followed was one of the most interesting and fundamental shifts in American political history.

White people got scared. Frightened by the possibility of black people with the freedom to move into their neighborhood, and by violent clashes that occurred following a series of police shootings (sound familiar?), white people ran. In Detroit, they ran from their neighborhoods into the suburbs. This phenomenon, known as White Flight, has decimated our city, creating a gaping hole in the our tax base, as we now have to pay for the services needed for a city of 2 million people with a revenue stream of 600,000 remaining residents.

Unfortunately, the newly suburbanized white voters were not done.

Continuing to be haunted by the images of violence, crime, and poverty linked to black Americans in our collective national psyche, white voters switched their voting allegiance towards politicians who promised to be “tough on crime”, well understood politician talk for being tough on people of color.

Unsurprisingly, the author is predictably critical of Democratic policies that have created a “welfare state” or a “handout culture”, implying that an entire generation of black people and poor whites made a deliberate decision to break down their own families in order to receive welfare handouts.

In reality, Michelle Alexander’s seminal work The New Jim Crow details that the breakdown of families in urban America has little to do with black people choosing a welfare check over a job and a married family. It has everything to do with the deliberate targeting and mass incarceration of men of color by the war on drugs. The consequences of this war, initiated by Nixon and Reagan and continued by Clinton, has singlehandedly devastated communities already decimated by White Flight.

The effects of these anti-urban, tough on crime policies continue to be felt today. Simply put, it is difficult to have a responsible job, buy a house, vote, raise a family, or serve on a jury, when you are labeled a felon for possession of a green plant called marijuana.

(As a side note, white Americans abuse drugs at the same or higher rate than black Americans. We just tend to avoid being pulled over by the police)

I want to conclude by speaking directly to the author.

First, I want to apologize for the tone in my response. I have dedicated my life to the urban context and admit that I too quick in passing judgment on white Americans. Second, I want to say that to a certain extent, I understand your point of view. If all that you knew of urban America was what you saw on the news, complete with the linked images of blackness, crime, and poverty, one would draw precisely the conclusions that you articulated. Finally, if you are at all interested in actually working to change Detroit, instead of raining down judgment upon black Americans from your position of stratospheric privilege, I welcome you.

I welcome you to keep your mouth shut, come, and learn. Live in the neighborhood, go to church, walk alongside people that look nothing like you. Learn what it means to be proximate to the marginalized, to walk in solidarity with those that, just like you, are made in the image of God.

I ask the Whitworth Community to do the same. Our current political climate is frighteningly similar to the fear and anger that decimated my city 50 years ago. Our news outlets and social media feeds are filled with angry, desperate white Christians trying to take back a country that was never theirs to begin with, a trend that is ironic when the most repeated command of God in the Bible is, Do Not be Afraid.

I ask and pray and beg of you, especially those of you who identify as white, do not be afraid. Instead, learn to humbly walk alongside your black and brown brothers and sisters, people made in the image of the same God as you.

Letters to the editor

In response to "Inner City Lives Matter: Detroit's Disadvantage"

I was disappointed at the publishing of "Inner City Lives Matter" by James Silberman, in which he points out that Detroit, along with a number of other impoverished American cities, has largely Democratic Party Leadership. Navigate, it's true the Detroit is a poor City and Detroit has a democratic government. But, as we all know ( or do we?) correlation does not imply causation.

After I graduated Whitworth, I moved to Seattle, and then to Boston. Both of those cities had Democratic party leadership, and excellent booming economies and high standards of life.

After that, I moved to Southern China, and then to Japan, where I now currently live. And the thing is, both of those places have booming economies too, including a lot of factories which make cars. These factories sprung up as the American Auto industry, which was the backbone of Detroit's economy, declined, and Americans started buying more foreign cars.

Now, I'm not saying that the decline of the American Auto industry and the deindustrialization in Detroit necessarily caused its urban decline and ongoing poverty, but it's probably not a factor to be ignored. 

- Rose Price '12

Pointing to urban decay in cities such as Detroit as evidence of the failure of Democrats and their destructive “progressive” policies is an extraordinary example of confirmation bias. Democrats have long controlled most major municipalities in the US; some are struggling and some are thriving. Take a look at Seattle; the last time a Republican was mayor was 1969. Under Democratic leadership, the city has grown in size and the economy is soaring. Even the dreaded $15 wage law that took effect in 2015 has not undermined Seattle’s continued growth. University of Washington found the city is creating new jobs at triple the national average rate. There are several factors at play in Seattle, but that’s exactly my point. The rise and fall of American cities such as Detroit are complex phenomena with complex causes; to push such a blatantly partisan narrative does little to help refine our analysis or provide real solutions.

The author’s narrative about welfare being a conspiracy to destroy the “nuclear” family from “the American Left” is not original or new. We can trace it to 1965 with Moynihan’s The Negro Family. Anthropologists have debunked the “nuclear” family as a Eurocentric myth.

The truth is Republicans and Democrats both supported the neoliberal agenda that got us here: the shift in the economy from manufacturing to finance, free trade a la NAFTA, the 1994 crime bill, etc. Partisan politics is juvenile at this point. Mass movements are the future. 

- Keegan Shea '14

“Inner City Lives Matter” was a page out of a John Boehner speech, with more emphasis on finger-pointing and making conjectures about the state of black communities than in any actual data to support these claims.

The blatant racialization of the inner cities of America is a harmful generalization because while “black” is supposed to be synonymous with “poor,” white poverty remains invisible. The title “Inner City Lives Matter” does not leave much to the imagination (being a clear reference to Black Lives Matter.) The problem with this racialization is that it makes the insidious claim that black culture is somehow partially responsible for the “broken families, failing schools, poverty, violent crime, drugs and unemployment” rampant in inner cities. This is extremely problematic, especially considering poor whites (in raw numbers) make up large portions of inner city populations. This is conveniently overlooked because it does not fit with the narrative that the conditions of inner cities are a “black” issue, and the root cause of racism.

The columnist is incapable of identifying larger economic, political, and historical forces at work in these cities, particularly in Detroit. To act as though Detroit is a liberal island, completely unswayable by larger federal/historical policies, is deeply misinformed at best and willfully ignorant at worst. Detroit is a perfect example of an economy ravaged by deindustrialization; and this factor, combined with racist “White Flight” from the inner city, meant that the tax base of Detroit all but disappeared. The columnist failed to recognize any of these historical factors, but instead hoped to find the Democratic scapegoat to blame for the poverty in our inner cities.

Not to mention, 1960s Detroit is not the example to use for “the epicenter of the American Dream.” Detroit in the 1960s was classified as one of the most hypersegregated cities in the U.S. (a fact which remains true today) and race riots ravaged the city in 1968. This white nostalgia completely excludes the experiences of black and brown individuals, but I supposed this is a trend in most of conservative American history.

The “class before race” strategy is a myth propelled by conservatives and liberals alike that claims if we tackle economic inequality, our country’s problem of racism will magically disappear. This implies that capitalism can fix racism—something that has been disproven time and time again.

I could continue to point out the misinformation and gaping holes in this article or I could do finger-pointing of my own—like pointing out that the states with the worst school systems and highest rates of poverty are actually historically Republican (Mississippi, Kentucky, and Idaho), However, my point is that this type of rhetoric is harmful and divisive. There have been liberal AND conservative policies that have been harmful to some of our most vulnerable populations. The “Us vs. Them” mentality is easy to succumb to and apparently easy to print, but I would encourage readers to engage more critically with the information around them to come to better-informed opinions.

- Kayla Prewitt '17