HCC CONDOM DEBATE UNAFFORDABLE LUXURY
From: Barbara Seig
The current controversy between students and some faculty members at Howard Community College over whether to make condoms generally available in restroom dispensers is of interest because it identifies a basic roadblock to progress in the war on AIDS: the fear that if we make condoms freely available, we are condoning, even encouraging, sexual promiscuity.
In an epidemic of such horrifying magnitude, which every day extends farther and wider not only in this country but throughout the world, I don't think we have the luxury of such esoteric debate.
If condoms can help slow -- if not stop -- the spread of AIDS, they need to be made available. Simple as that -- without any strings attached.
The "string" that some well-intentioned faculty at HCC want to attach is that the condoms would be made available only at public locations, such as outside the Student Government Association office, the counseling office and the bookstore.
Another "string" is that sexually active HCC students would have to attend special workshops, forums or classes to receive the condoms.
Many students believe, however, that few of their peers would avail themselves of the condoms if they had to be held up to such public scrutiny.
What is the real issue here? Stopping AIDS, stopping sexually transmitted diseases or stopping irresponsible sex outside of marriage?
Actually, it is all of the above. But we seem to get hung up over the reality that in making sex safer, we may encourage it. Unfortunately, there's no way around that.
But the alternative is that we withhold condoms from those who really need them and just throw another log on the already blazing fire of the AIDS epidemic.
In making condoms available to students at HCC, or to people anywhere, however, we need to recognize that we are not giving them a free passport to a promiscuous sexual life totally free of risk from AIDS or any other sexually transmitted disease.
We need to dispel the myth that condoms make sex safe; they don't: they make it safer. The use of condoms alone won't stop the spread of AIDS, but it will help.
Yes, we need to continue and intensify educational programs beginning in elementary school, to turn kids away from promiscuous early sex.
Yes, we've got to put our kids on a diet that limits their intake of the public media menu -- TV particularly -- that glamorizes, glorifies and promotes sexual activity.
Yes, the media needs to take a good look at itself and the effects of its incessant, pervasive emphasis on sex.
Yes, leaders in schools and colleges, in government, in business -- and parents in every home -- need to convey the message that promiscuous, irresponsible sex (with or without condoms) can lead not only to an AIDS death but is generally not part of a wholesome lifestyle.
But, while we are educating, we must also be protecting people against AIDS.
Let's get real: We're in a life and death struggle here, not only in the "gay" community but in the "straight" world as well. Men and women, boys and girls, even infants, are dying.
This is no time for an academician's debate! We need common-sense action now!
I think the kids at HCC are right on this issue. Restroom dispensers of condoms not only make sense for HCC, but for every public building in this country -- the sooner the better.
50-YEAR FAN BEMOANS COUNTY FOOTBALL REFS
From: Earl E. Young
High school athletics have been a passionate interest of mine for over 50 years. I have been involved as scholar-athlete, coach, official, booster, supporter and fan.
The principal thrust of this letter is my concern for what occurred at a contest that I attended on Nov. 3 between Oakland Mills High School and Glenelg High School at the latter.
I have been attending athletic contests at GHS since 1970, but this most recent contest was different.
It was different in that the officiating was the most "home" oriented that I have ever witnessed, and I am limiting these comments to football games. I have attended almost every football and basketball game between these schools since 1973, and I haven't missed many of the baseball games.
The officiating in this game violated all of the principles of honesty, decency and fair play that I, and I believe all of us who have been reared under the democratic process, have been led to expect.
I doubt that "travesty" is really strong enough to describe what had to be apparent to even partisan observers -- the blatantly biased calls of three of the four officials who worked this game.
At this point I must mention deficiencies of the officials -- officials out of position to throw a flag, late flags, flags from across the field and backside flags, also thrown late, when long runs were made or touchdowns scored by OMHS.
OMHS had two touchdowns nullified by what appeared to be late calls, and GHS scored its only two TDs on what appeared to be similarly questionable calls by officials.
A comparison of penalties shows that OMHS had about 12 majors (15-yard penalties), compared with two majors by GHS. Of course, the implication here is that OMHS was playing "dirty" to gain advantage. There is no need to argue this with the final score in mind -- OMHS 64, GHS 12.
Something has to be done to improve the level of officiating of high school sports in Howard County! This applies to all of Howard County.
Playing a game at Glenelg is comparable with playing at Brunswick, Middletown, Allegany or many other culturally unenlightened areas of our state.
Our student-athletes deserve better! These perceptive young people know what's going on and don't want to win or lose under the kind of circumstances that are foisted upon them.
I have not mentioned erroneous rule interpretations (clipping on defensive team, erroneous calls on exchange of ball or punt violation) but I could have.
Here are some things to consider in improving the situation:
* Psychological screening of potential officials.
* Yearly testing and certification.
* Evaluation of officials by supervisory officials, athletic directors, principals, coaches, fellow officials, etc.
* Making officials accountable for their actions.
I trust you will agree that our young people deserve better from us adults and that we don't lead them down the same divisive paths that we have followed.
Although I am appalled at the approach taken by some of those among us, I will continue to speak out, to support and to nurture our young people for as long as I am able.
CONSTRUCTION FOLLOWS FORMER N.J. RESIDENT
From: Cherie Wein
No more construction at all!
My children's school is already overcrowded, yet there is more construction going on.
My family moved to Howard County to get away from this overcrowding in New Jersey.
Now I think this place is becoming New Jersey!