Based on my 40 years of experience as a university professor and 33 years as a licensed psychologist (now retired), as well as being a father of two daughters who attended undergraduate and graduate schools, I applaud Joni James' excellent article and spot-on "safety first" recommendations to students.
My recollections of conversations with students and clients over the years, nonetheless, vividly remind me of an additionally troublesome issue. In most situations, the victim typically meets first with a campus police officer who asks reasonable questions. Unfortunately, the young, frightened and to some extent traumatized young student has equally understandable, counterproductive reactions to the officer's best-intended queries. For example: "Did you go to the party of your own accord and were you drinking?" ("What does that have to do with it? He attacked me."); "Were the two of you dancing and kissing prior to his attacking you?" ("Are you saying it was my fault?"); and, "How loud or forceful did you say 'Stop … I don't want to do that'?" ("Whose side are you on?")
In spite of campus police officers trying to do their best in such situations, there are numerous other unintended consequences such as those above, as well as the student thinking, "I wish I hadn't said anything." When she shares such experiences with her friends, their reaction many times is, "If that ever happens to me, I'm just going to keep my mouth shut." And as understandable as this is, it indeed is sad (and helps explain why so many sexual assaults and rapes on college and university campuses go unreported and/or unprosecuted).
I urge colleges and universities to contract with independent, community-based, licensed professional counselors, psychologists and social workers specially trained on such issues to be on call, and when sexual assaults and rapes arise to be the first ones to interview the reported victim and assess the situation.
Being a victim of sexual assault can leave long-term and even lifelong emotional scars on women (and men). If a standard procedure such as I have proposed helps only one victim and/or prevents one sexual assault on a college campus, in spite of any minimal, additional financial costs, it would be worth it — especially if the victim were someone in your family.
William G. Emener, St. Pete Beach
Bank of America let off too easily | Aug. 25, editorial
Meltdown's many victims
I read this editorial with great disappointment.
If the point was punishment for criminal activity committed by corporations and their employees, and it was — in this case by Bank of America — how is it possible that you omitted the most egregious wounds inflicted upon our country and its citizens?
Certainly, the financial meltdown of 2008 caused by banks and other financial institutions was tragic for who lost their homes, but they represent only one group of those affected. What about all the many millions who lost their jobs? What about all the many millions whose investments and savings for retirement were decimated by the reckless and greedy behavior engaged in by these institutions? What about the lost income of those who had jobs, and were paying their mortgages on time, but who were not given raises during the last eight years due to the still-suffering U.S. and world economies?
It could be argued that these folks suffered far greater effects than those who lost their homes, and they seem to be the forgotten ones.
If corporations are going to be judged as people for political advantage, shouldn't they also be judged as people when they commit crimes? If a person commits fraud, the relative severity of the penalty suffered is often far greater than the punishment Bank of America (and all the other financial institutions) have received.
Bruce Bernstein, Tampa
BK inversion draws heat | Aug. 27
The rich get richer
Warren Buffett claims the Burger King/Tim Hortons merger is not tax-motivated. "I just don't know how the Canadians would feel about Tim Horton moving to Florida," he said. "The main thing here is to make the Canadians happy." That sounds un-American to me.
He will gain $3 billion in preferred shares for his investment and he couldn't care less how many jobs will be lost with this merger.
These inversions are legal, and that is just one example of how the laws in this country favor the 1 percent. Besides being able to hide profits in foreign countries and tax havens like the Cayman Islands or Bermuda, now these corporations want to force Congress to make their taxes even lower by continuing to do these inversions.
Presently corporate taxes provide only about 10 percent of the revenue IRS collects. But corporations still demand to pay less.
Jim Demmy, Kenneth City
Profits over people
Over the past years, many very profitable American corporations have chosen to adopt practices to avoid paying their fair share of U.S. taxes: Cisco, Dell, Halliburton, Johnson & Johnson, Apple, Coca-Cola, Walmart and Google, to name a few. Google even took U.S. government (our) money to aid with its start-up.
Burger King is now contemplating its maneuver for all to witness in the media. Our Supreme Court, in its "wisdom," has deemed that corporations are people. Some people who hide their earnings overseas are called smart. But mostly, they are called unpatriotic.
Tom Reid, Seminole
3 steps toward better government | Aug. 27, letter
Pensions too generous
The writer of this letter makes excellent sense regarding a way our government could be streamlined in order to act in a more efficient manner.
There is one more change I would add to his list: Stop paying the president and the Congress "retirement pay" for the rest of their lives. I worked at several jobs for more than the five or six years that are needed for a pension, but my companies were not mandated to give me this retirement cushion.
We are currently paying 617 past members of Congress retirement benefits under two different calculations depending upon when they were elected. The formula takes the top three years of salary to calculate their retirement pension.
As the letter writer's ideas would have to go through the Senate and House, what are the chances that they would ever pass? There would have to be a groundswell of citizens behind this, not unlike the civil rights movement, in order to get this to happen.
Rosanne Paris, Palm Harbor
Priorities for next governor | Aug. 27, editorial
None of the above
The editorial offers five issues on which voters could/should evaluate candidates Charlie Crist and Rick Scott.
We are reminded that we are familiar with both as governor. And, as the adage goes, "familiarity breeds contempt" — so it is with these two. Both are self-serving individuals with an interest in assisting themselves and their benefactors. We know this to be true for both from looking at their actions while governor.
It is delusional to think that either is interested in "guiding the state in a positive direction."
Mortimer Brown, Lutz
Dead heat race officially starts | Aug. 27
On primary day in Florida, we saw one in four Democrats turn their back on the presumptive candidate of their party, Charlie Crist.
Outspent by millions, unable to get a debate, and considered an afterthought, state Sen. Nan Rich drew one in every four voters in the Democratic race. Further indicating the distaste for Crist as the party's standard-bearer is the fact that the Democrats trailed the GOP by almost 20 percent in voter turnout.
Your cheerleading headline suggesting a "dead heat race" is wishful thinking. Many Democratic voters are either going to support the incumbent, Rick Scott, or stay home in large numbers.
Robert Ryan, Spring Hill
Independents will decide
Adam Smith may have jumped the gun by calling the Nov. 4 race a dead heat. In the primary, Democrats could vote only for Democrats and Republicans could vote only for Republicans. Independent voters couldn't vote at all, so whether they will lean toward Charlie Crist or Rick Scott is unknown.
While Scott pulled 88 percent of the Republican vote, Crist got only 74 percent of the Democratic. Crist needs the 26 percent of Democrats who voted for Nan Rich, along with a lot of independent voters, to win. Scott simply needs to get out the independent voters.
How the independent voter swings will decide who will be Florida's next governor.
David P. Carter, Seminole