LETTER: Issues with SGA president's statements

I recently read the article “Faculty picket unwelcome at CMU and You Day, plans job action again if necessary.”

I was shocked at the comments made by Vincent Cavataio in regard to the “inappropriate” ways the Faculty Association was protesting.

I could care less what side of the fence he is on on the debate between the FA and the administration; what had stoked the coals of my ire was his attitude toward protesting.

So, I made some snarky comments on Facebook, as I sometimes do.

Mr. Cavataio then responded with, “I am always willing to debate in an appropriate forum.”

Well, I sent him an email (which he gave me in a post on the FA wall, which has recently been removed) to do just that.

In that email, I attempted to set up a time and place for us to publicly debate (he had attempted to lure me into some back room discussion at the SGA office, but seeing that his comments were made in the very public sphere of a campus newspaper, I felt it necessary to debate in public).

“It seems that you are of the ilk that believe that there are appropriate and inappropriate places and times for civil action,” I said. “On the other hand, I believe that any time and place is appropriate for a protest. We can take these sides of the argument, debating and discussing in a one-on-one freeform debate. No low blows, moderator(s) if you’d like. I will suggest using the orchestra in the Moore/Brooks/Music Building quadrangle. Sunday, October 16th 5:00 p.m.?”

As he was the one who cast down the gauntlet, tradition dictates that I, as the one who picks it up, have the pleasure of choosing the details of the contest.

He responded with an attempt to weasel out of this, trying to steer me toward taking my problems to the administration.

He missed the point completely. This has nothing to do with the FA issue, although that was the impetus for his comments. I was speaking of the much larger issue of what it is to be a modern American citizen. This was me taking my civic duty seriously, calling out a public official (or relatively so), for his comments that essentially said to students, “If what you have to say is inconvenient, don’t say it."

This was a citizen taking up another citizen’s challenge.

We shared several other emails in an attempt for me to get him to follow through on his offer to no avail. Honestly, I feel it very cowardly of him to brush me off like this. He even said at one point that he being a high and mighty advocate for the students, his time was far too valuable to waste on the likes of me, a simple commoner, a booze peddler. All I want is to have this discussion in public so the most citizens possible can benefit from a meaningful exploration of what the framers of our nation had in mind when they cast off their own chains and said that we ALL are free. Is that not in the truest spirit of democracy?

So the challenge still stands, and all I am met with is passing the buck. Mr. Cavataio, you said you are willing to debate. Why do you run away?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau once wrote, “So long as a people are constrained to obey, and obeys, it does well; but as soon as it can shake off the yoke, and shakes it off, it does better; for since it regains its freedom by the same right that removed it, a people is either justified in taking back its freedom, or there is no justifying those who took it away.”

I truly hope Mr. Cavataio reconsiders his pathetic cowardice.

Benjamin M. Sidou Mount Pleasant resident