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January 10, 2002


Pitt should allow spouses, children to use campus pools

To the editor:

I am writing in regards to the news item related to the use of Trees pools (University Times, Dec. 6, 2001). I have these comments about the new policy. My comments are not much about the bureaucratic detail of how such a change in policy should be handled. I want to draw your readers' attention to whether or not this change makes any sense.

I have used the Trees Pool rather regularly for the past 10 years or so. More recently, I have also used the Bellefield pool. I do not think that allowing the children and their spouses poses any real threat.

First, now we have three pools (two at Trees and one in Bellefield Hall). It is unreasonable to keep all of these pools completely closed for the spouses and their children. We have lifeguards at these pools. We have rules and regulations. The people I have seen using the pool adhere to these rules. Also, I have not yet seen spouses that are "running around" the swimming pools. Yes I have, occasionally, seen little children running around and their parents and/or lifeguards have told them to stop and they have. In my opinion, there is no justification for not allowing the spouses and children (who are accompanied by their parents) to use these facilities during reasonable hours. It is about time that we trust the faculty, staff and students of this University in their ability to follow the rules and enjoy the benefits. It is also time for us to be more rational about these types of situations and not give in to a bunch of lawyers. Managing risk should not equate to being irrational in our thinking. Yes, if there is an accident that is going to happen, it will. The University can issue special swimming pool ID cards and in doing so ask the parents to sign an indemnification clause. Swimming is an activity that a lot of people like to enjoy all year around. We have quite a few of our staff, graduate students and faculty who would like to use these facilities. This is indeed a perquisite for many who work on the Pitt campus. Let us have a rational policy that encourages people of the Pitt community to use and enjoy our swimming pools safely. Managing risks does not usually require these types of Draconian measures. Also, we need to consider all constituencies of the campus community. In my view, it is not unreasonable to find a two- hour time slot each evening and perhaps a three-hour time slot on the weekends at one of these pools to let the spouses, faculty and children enjoy our swimming pools.

Pradeep P. Phule


Department of Materials Science and Engineering

School of Engineering


Un becoming comment

To the editor:

I hate to sound like a grinch by harshly and perhaps ungratefully raining on Pitt head football coach Walt Harris's parade, especially since his impressive Panthers have now gone on to win six straight games (with a season's record of 7-5), topped off by their decisive victory over North Carolina State University in the Tangerine Bowl (34-19). Nevertheless, I believe that the incident described below should be called to the attention of the university community and not swept under the carpet.

In the sports section of the Dec. l issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Coach Harris, contemplating his team's game with the University of Alabama-Birmingham on Dec. 1 at Heinz Field, is quoted as having said that he "…was hoping that they'd [UAB] have some injuries…" presumably so that UAB would be less competitive against the Pitt Panthers.

Have I gotten this straight? A collegiate coach is hoping that his opponents in a game (and it's only a game, mind you) will sustain injuries? If it's injuries that Coach Harris craves let him join the Marines or the Special Forces and fight the bad guys in Afghanistan's exotic caves and twisting tunnels, rather than yearn for injuries to college kids.

I always thought that a collegiate football coach (say a Knute Rockne, a Joe Paterno, a Jock Sutherland) should be an inspiration to and a role model for his student athletes who bust their butts to get victories for their coaches, not an embarrassing symbol of unsportsmanlike wishes. The University of Pittsburgh deserves better than Coach Harris, even though his team ended up with a winning season undaunted by their earlier five straight losses. Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Athletic Director Steve Pederson should take Coach Harris out to the proverbial woodshed!

Robert Perloff

Professor Emeritus

Katz Graduate School of Business

Coach Walt Harris responds:

I want to take this opportunity to thank the entire University of Pittsburgh community for its tremendous support of our football program this fall. The 2001 season will go down as one of our most memorable in recent years, and a large amount of credit goes to our wonderfully dedicated students, faculty and staff who turned out to cheer us on at Heinz Field. Our season ended with a win over N.C. State in the Tangerine Bowl, the Panthers' first bowl victory in 12 years. I know firsthand how hard our student-athletes worked to achieve that feat. I think I am most proud, though, of how they represented themselves and our University. They played with the heart of champions and conducted themselves with the highest levels of class. I know you share my pride in these fine young men.

Much like the classroom, sports can provide an education that will last a lifetime. We learned some valuable lessons from our 1-5 start, including the importance of perseverance, unity and hard work. Those principles helped our players rebound this season and will continue to help them as they leave our University and become tomorrow's professionals, parents, husbands and citizens.

There are times in sports when things don't go so well! Sometimes a tackle is missed or a pass is dropped. I made a similar gaffe off the field when I made a joke about injuries prior to our contest with the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Injuries are a gravely serious matter and I realize in retrospect that humor in this context was inappropriate. I genuinely apologize to anyone who may have been offended.

Thank you again for your invaluable support. I assure you that our team will continue to work hard in the classroom, the weight room and on the field to make the University of Pittsburgh proud for years to come.

See you at Heinz Field next fall.

Hail to Pitt!

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