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Dismay Over the 'Degree of Negativity'

May 14, 1987

After reading the April 9 San Gabriel section, my fellow students and I were dismayed at the degree of negativity suggested in the article on our responses to spending a night with the homeless in Los Angeles. The headline, with the words "Never Again," was a source of concern. We feel that the article, through selective use of quotes and incorrect context, represented our organization (Students Organized for America's Homeless) as viewing the plight of the homeless in a futile light.

The situation is the total opposite. We are continuing our attempts to aid the homeless. A chapter of SOFAH is being started at Loyola Marymount University with our aid and encouragement. A hot lunch was provided for the homeless, using food obtained at the Claremont Colleges. Members of the homeless organization known as Justiceville spoke on our campus on April 27.

"Never Again" certainly fails to apply to our general view of joining the homeless overnight. David Callies, along with other students, continues to make visits to Skid Row, investigating the situation.

True, negative things were said about the sleep-over, but how many glowing words apply to Skid Row? What we saw shocked us. Not to be appalled at the conditions some of those people live in is to be inhuman.

True, the problem is bigger than we originally realized. Much remains that we still do not know. All the more reason to go down there again.

I especially would like to address the misleading use of quotes. Only the negative side of what was said appeared. In reference to our sleeping in our own shantytown on Pitzer campus, I am quoted as saying, "Nothing could have prepared us." In cold newsprint, that piece of a conversation seems quite pessimistic. My intended statement was that no situation, no matter how exacting, prepares one for the reality of any situation.

The members of SOFAH who spent the night on L.A.'s streets were shocked, but not devastated. To my knowledge, only one person said the words "never again." She just happened to be interviewed. I was present at that interview and heard her state, a few minutes after that remark, that she would join the homeless again. A single person, whose words are not quoted in full, does not account for a whole group.


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