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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Free Speech Is Valued at Mount St. Mary's

May 09, 2003

Re "Abortion Issue Sets Off Dispute at L.A. College," May 7: As a college professor at a community college where Latino students are in the majority, I applaud Mount St. Mary's College for inviting Reps. Loretta and Linda Sanchez to be the commencement speakers. They will, I am sure, inspire the graduates, for whom there are too few Latina leaders in government, business and the private sector today. For all of us in higher education, the goals are the same: to foster students' critical thinking skills so that, guided by conscience and aware of social needs, they will think for themselves and make a contribution to their communities and to their country. We place a value on conscience, citizenship and cultural diversity.

Mount St. Mary's College, by inviting the Sanchez sisters, demonstrates not only the prized American freedom -- free speech -- but also the commitment to exposing students to women who exemplify how one can make a difference in this society. What this country needs today are not special-interest groups that would censor those who disagree with them but educated women and men who are prepared by the academy and heartened by role models like the Sanchez sisters to create a more just and peaceful world.

Lenore Navarro Dowling

Professor of English

Rio Hondo College

Los Angeles

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As a graduate of Mount St. Mary's and the daughter of a Mount graduate, I must say that its selection is in keeping with the intellectual principles on which the college was founded. The gift of a Mount education is to learn the value of independence and critical thinking. We were not taught to listen to only one point of view. More power to the college for trying to select speakers who represent the empowerment of women.

Terry Sauer

Los Angeles

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