Tuesday, April 23

Complaint turns ugly over e-mail


Complaint turns ugly over e-mail

Advertisement for Campus Events offends moviegoer

By Michael Angell

Daily Bruin Contributor

Looking to take a break from her studies, Jilly Lin decided to
watch a film at Ackerman Grand Ballroom one evening. She and five
of her friends went to see "Belle D’Jour," which is about a French
housewife who becomes a prostitute.

That, however, was not quite as shocking as what came before the
movie.

Jilly and her friends saw a series of slides which advertised
the Campus Events Commission, the organization that was screening
the show. In one slide, three naked people show their backsides
while one person holds a sign over their posteriors that reads,
"Campus Events Commission."

That ad, and another one Lin also considered offensive, drove
her to write a letter of complaint to the Campus Events Commission.
Lin wrote that she was "shocked and disgusted at the untasteful
advertisements."

But for Lin, the most shocking development was yet to come.

Lin and a Campus Events staffer began "flaming" each other via
e-mail as a result of the slides. In a series of three letters, Lin
and intern coordinator Karen Hernandez traded adjectives over
issues related to censorship, taste and constitutional rights.

But as the series of letters continued, they began to take on a
more vitriolic, personal tone.

In her reply to Lin’s original letter, Hernandez began with "I
think you’re dumb." She signed the letter with her title, "UCLA
campus events intern director."

After this letter, Lin wrote back "those who call others dumb
are egocentric who thinks (sic) so greatly of themselves … You 53
volunteers who contributed your naked bodies, we don’t appreciate
your work. Why not instead go out and feed the hungry, or save a
tree or something."

Hernandez’s second reply hit a piquant plateau reading, "You are
so full of shit." Hernandez then suggested that Lin’s complaint may
be attributed to her own sexual identity.

"If you can’t take nudity, you may not be very comfortable with
your own sexuality, let alone those of strangers up on screen doing
it for fun," Hernandez’s letter said.

In the letter, Hernandez defended her own office’s use of frank
advertising as standard practice in the entertainment industry:

"Hollywood and Los Angeles advertising is all about nudity and
uncensorship. I suggest you get out of this liberalist city if you
disagree … Come graduation day, looks like you and all your
friends won’t be able to survive in a city like L.A. because people
out there will have a harsher facade and won’t give a shit about
what you think about them."

In response to Lin’s suggestion that the Campus Events
Commission focus its energies on more civic-minded projects,
Hernandez responded that "Campus Events has contributed all of the
profits from Mardi Gras to Uni-Camp … we send inner city kids to
camp every summer."

Upset by the reply to her complaint, Lin wrote that "an apology
is in demand."

But Hernandez said that "I am not giving you an apology because
I have nothing to apologize for … I have not been irresponsible
in responding to the public because I solely do not represent
Campus Events. I represented myself, not Campus Events when I was
responding to your message about the slides."

The flame war was brought to the attention of Campus Events
Commissioner Julie Tollefson. She issued an official apology, both
regarding the slides and the manner in which the original complaint
was handled.

"We received Jilly’s letter and gave her an official response by
the office," Tollefson said. "We are still standing by our creative
freedoms for the programs that we do."

Tollefson said that her office has not received any other
complaints regarding the slides. The slides were made by the Campus
Events Commission about four years ago. Tollefson said she was only
looking for a memorable and humorous way to advertise her
office.

"Our office provides diverse programming to the campus,"
Tollefson said. "We have to make people aware of that. We
definitely caught people’s attention. We are sincere in our apology
to the offended women."

As for the issue of customer complaints, Tollefson said that
there will be a series of workshops at the Campus Events Commission
on the proper use of e-mail. Tollefson said that there is no policy
for official response to student complaints; anyone who picks up an
e-mail responds to it.

"E-mail is a new medium that we are working in," Tollefson said.
"We are working through some protocol and policy and education for
e-mail as a medium for feedback."

Lin brought the issue to the Campus Ombudsman who resolves
intracampus disputes. The dispute has been forwarded to Kenneth
Heller, associate director of student programming. He is currently
trying to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, Lin said that she is still
shocked by the responses.

"They are not how a mature person would react, not by calling
another person names," Lin said. "This will probably make me think
twice about going to any campus event."

Hernandez declined to comment on the letters.Comments to
[email protected]

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