Author: Letter to the Editor
Have you ever thought about the Board that sets the amount of money you get every year as a Dividend? Please check the website Alaska Permanent Fund Board Confirmation Committee. Why should APFB that is currently only a gubernatorial appointment be confirmed by Alaska Legislature? There are those who will tell you that confirmation will politicize the board.
I am a longtime Republican conservative and business owner in Illinois, where I also attended and graduated from college. I enjoyed my vacation to Alaska immensely and would love to visit your priceless, beautiful state again. In general, I do agree that UAA, as well as all colleges and universities, should become tobacco-free campus-wide. This tobacco ban should also include electronic cigarettes, as well as chewing tobacco. The tobacco companies are presently buying up manufacturing rights to many of these electronic cigarette devices, and we all know that anything that big tobacco is involved in cannot usually be good. The more studies that are conducted on these devices, the more questionable and unsafe chemicals are found in these so called “harmless vapors” that students in dormitories and the general public congregating indoors are being exposed to. Bottom line: College is an institution where today’s best are being prepared to become tomorrow’s leaders, and tobacco in any form has no place in such a setting.
Dear Founding Fathers,
In 1776, shockwaves were felt around the world when you declared independence for the United States. Holding steadfast in your belief that all men are created equal and have certain unalienable rights, you issued a challenge that a king would not be the supreme authority of this land.
I was in the homestretch of completing high school. I was filled with a mix of excitement for the future and stress over having to make big life decisions — decisions like what to do next.
My more grounded parents wanted me to plan for college, evaluate options and discuss choices. During those talks I never — not even once — considered the University of Alaska Anchorage as a destination. My head was telling me, “I need to get out.”
The following are my opinions on financial aid. First-year college students should not be eligible for financial aid, only those with a sophomore standing or higher and a B average or higher.
The ease of financial aid availability and forgiveness promotes unrealistic views of money, the time and effort associated with higher education and the real world (how many banks offer forgiveness on their loans?). Too many students see only “free money,” then learn the hard way of what happens when they don’t maintain decent grades.
If college freshmen pay their own way, they will take their studies much more seriously. Sports scholarships are also ridiculous and are no different than the idea of poetry scholarships at vocational or tech schools. Monetary assistance at universities should be based on academic, not athletic, ability. Scholarships are meant for scholars. Athletic scholarships encourage athletes and pro sports to view college as a meaningless stepping stone to a professional team — look at the football scandal at Oklahoma State.
I also feel that the ease of financial aid is responsible for the increase in disruptive behavior in college classrooms. It allows people into college who do not have the necessary maturity and academic background. Too many students see college as an extension of high school and act accordingly.
The motto of financial aid should be, “If you want it, earn it.”
Thomas H. Morse,
Mathematics and chemistry professor
As I start my senior year at UAA this fall, I reflect on how much I have grown as an individual and as a student. I also ponder on the increase of transgender individuals I have met on the UAA campus. As one of the transgender students here at UAA, this brings me joy and a sense of peace and belonging.
I started at UAA in 2006 with no sense of who I was as an independent person. It was Professor Gwen Lupfer-Johnson in my sophomore year that helped me discover the world of transgender individuals. With much therapy and research, I finally figured out what my feelings and thoughts meant. I started transitioning in April of 2010 and took a break from school. Two years later, when I returned to UAA as Danny, I felt a comfort that I had never felt prior.
In my years at UAA I have come out in all of my classes, typically the first day of the semester. In doing this, I have met many individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. I have had many encounters with my fellow students, regardless of gender identity or sexuality, which involve many questions and curiosities. I enjoy answering questions and telling my story, and I have made many friends which I rejoice in seeing on campus again as the semesters come and go. It makes me grateful that I have had such positive experiences with UAA when it comes to my transgender identity, and I hope that others experience the same warmth and welcome as I have at UAA.
I would like to commend student body President-elect Andrew Lessig, Student Ombudsman Seth Weaver and their fellow students Stephen Warta and Kenneth Kroeker for taking the initiative to visit our state’s capital to meet with myself and other legislators during the most recent legislative session. They proved to be strong, informed advocates for quality university programs and comprehensive higher education opportunities at UAA.
I also want to thank the many other UAA students, as well as those from other University of Alaska campuses, who sat down with other legislators during these visits. Seeing university students involved in the public process demonstrates our public universities are succeeding in their most important role — to produce informed citizens with a stake in our state’s future.
Thank you again to these students for their engagement, and congratulations to President-elect Lessig on his recent election. I have no doubt they will continue to be exceptional representatives of the UAA student body.
Senator Johnny Ellis
Editor’s Note: Andrew Lessig has officially been sworn in as USUAA President since he last met with legislators.
I came across a copy of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Northern Light Newspaper at a coffee house downtown. I decided to take it home to see what the local University had to offer. I was shocked and appalled when I came across an article titled “Discovering the magic of male ‘pleasure points’” in the “features” section of the April 2nd edition of the paper.
As I began to read what I can only describe as pornography, it became quite clear to me that the writer of this article is perpetuating the view that women are only good for male sexual pleasure. The tone of the article along with the brazen language baffled me. I was thinking to myself, “Did the editor of this newspaper even read this article before it was published”? I couldn’t believe that an editor would allow this into any respected publication.
While I don’t speak for the United States Army, in my experience as the Army Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Program Manager at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, I can tell you that this type of writing negatively affects the push for prevention in the sense that the article tells Anchorage’s college men that women are nothing more than sexual objects for their pleasure to be used and discarded at their will.
The article also tells young college women that their top priority in a relationship is to ensure they are pleasuring their man regardless of whether or not it is painful to them. This point is proven when the writer states “Have you ever wondered why the second or third time for a man is always better? This is because the vulva swells…” I find it repellent and disturbing that no one on this staff took the time to read this article.
If I am wrong and someone did take the time to read the article then I believe that person should be removed from their position because they are unable or unwilling to make sound decisions for this community. Anchorage was listed on Forbes Magazine as the second most dangerous city for women to live in. The Alaska rape rate is 2.5 times the national average. We need to not only provide services for victims. We need to be pro-active in eliminating this type of trash from being presented to our youth. The key to fighting the number of sexual assaults within Alaska is changing the mindset of its people. Allowing this type of vulgarity only breeds a callous attitude towards sex. Stop giving excuses and Fix it. Anchorage and Alaska are better than this. I’m sure the University of Alaska is filled with fresh talent that would love an opportunity to take this column’s direction into more appropriate relationship related issues sans filth.
1LT Letha M. Johnston
This letter is in response to Daniel McDonald’s column “Islamic Violence Justifies Islamophobia,” in the Northern Light’s March 22 issue.
It’s articles like this that exacerbate existing tensions between Muslims and the Western world. There are three claims made in the article. First, that the Obama Administration has handled the Arid Uka incident inappropriately. Second, that moderate Muslims are somehow complicit in acts of terror carried out by Islamic extremists (this is a very bizarre claim to make, given that most of the victims of terrorism have been moderate Muslims living in the Middle East and Pakistan). And third, that “Violent Jihadism” defines mainstream Islam, and thus Islam in the 21st century is a “sadomasochistic religion of the vicious.”
First, if you’re merely using the Arid Uka incident as an opportunity to castigate Obama, I offer a word of caution; Islamaphobia is not a joke. It is prudent of Obama, as a President engaged in two (arguably three) military operations in the Muslim world, to avoid language that stereotypes entire groups of people. This is especially true when we want our military to have the support of those very people. Clearly, the McDonald dislikes Obama and it seems like he would capitalize on any opportunity to criticize him, but I ask honestly: would you write this same article if it was John McCain or Mike Huckabee that was in the oval office and refused to use the word “terrorist” in reference to Arid Uka?
It’s right to say that most of the terrorist attacks in the United States have been perpetrated by Islamic Extremists. It’s wrong the say that this justifies Islamaphobia. It’s also wrong to claim that terrorist attacks undermine claims that Islam is a “peaceful religion.”
Christian militants were responsible for the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians during the Lebanese Civil War in the early 80?s. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a Christian rebel group in Uganda that uses rape as a weapon of war and employs child soldiers. The 2002 Soweto Bombings in South Africa were the work of a Christian white-supremacist group. Pastor Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church has gained international notoriety for claiming that “God Hates Fags” at military funerals. Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center has claimed that burning the Quran is the “wish of God.” Individuals associated with of The Army of God, a radical Christian group that believes “God wishes” abortion doctors to die, have murdered medical professionals working at abortion clinics. Most recently, George Tiller, an abortion doctor in Kansas, was shot in the head while serving as an usher at his Lutheran Church. When the police found the murderer, Scott Roeder, he was mumbling bible verses. He expressed no remorse for the killing, claiming it was the “Will of God.” Randall Terry and Wiley Drake, both militant pro-lifers, celebrated the death of Tiller with their respective followers. They called him a “hero.”
By the author’s logic, moderate Christians cannot claim their religion to be one of peace and tolerance. Indeed, by his measure, Christianity would be a “a sadomasochistic religion of homophobia and violence.” Is he willing to accuse moderate Christians of failing to stand up against extremists who use the “word of God” to justify unspeakable acts of terror? Many Christians claim that the best way to protect the sanctity of Christ’s message is to distance it as much as possible from acts of violence committed in Christ’s name. Will he write an article telling them they’re wrong to think such things? If some Christians seem ambivalent about the deaths of abortion doctors, will he write an article condemning them for not doing enough to stop speak out against cold-blooded murder?
Living in a nation with a Christian majority, led by a Christian President, we are unwilling to apply the term “terrorist” to Christians. We understand that extremists who use Christianity to justify acts of wanton violence are misguided and inappropriately employing religious texts. Even when groups like the LRA use quotes from the New Testament, such as “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” [Matthew 10:34] to justify violence against unarmed civilians, we understand these quotes to be taken out of context, and we accuse the LRA of ignoring other passages from scripture that promote brotherhood and tranquility. Why would we not extend the same courtesy to Muslims?
The article acknowledges that an extremely small minority of Muslims is responsible for acts of terrorism, yet simultaneously claims, “the lie that Islam is a religion of peace crumbles every time the Arab world hits the streets and celebrates the murder of innocents.” First, to claim that the “Arab world” takes to the streets every time a Muslim kills a westerner is untrue. In fact, following the Arid Uka incident, most Muslims denounced his actions and expressed sympathy for the families of the victims. The article accuses Obama of being too “politically correct,” in discussing the Uka incident, yet resorts to conservative platitudes when talking about the “Arab world.” That seems a bit inconsistent.
Moreover, his example of Yusuf Qaradawi as a violent Muslim theologian who is supported by the Islamic “mainstream” was extremely misleading. Qaradawi was loudly denounced in 2004 by 2,500 Muslim academics from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the Palestinian territories, who accused him in a letter of “giving Islam a bad name.”
Second, and more importantly, when Christian white supremacists took to the streets after the lynching of African Americans in the 20?s and 30?s, we didn’t understand this to mean that all Christians were racists. Only racist Christians were racists. This isn’t some fantastic intellectual leap — it is common sense.
To claim that “violent Jihadism is not a fringe element of Islam, it is the mainstream” demonstrates flagrant ignorance about Islam. “Jihad,” roughly translated, means “struggle.” Jihad can (and does) mean giving up your income to help build a school. It can mean going hungry for a day so that others may eat. The definition of Jihad changes based on what flavor of Islam you adhere to. Most Muslims adhere to the “non-violent” flavor. “Violent” Jihad is indeed a fringe element of Islam.
In regards to the discussion about Palestinians — Abu Zuhri doesn’t speak for all of Palestine. Look at the statements of condemnation for Hamas militants from Salaam Fayyad, president of the Palestinian Authority, then tell me that all Palestinians “take to the streets” every time a Jewish settler is killed in the West Bank. Furthermore, there are tens of thousands of armed Jews that build outposts well outside the established settlements in the West Bank. Even the Israeli government acknowledges that the construction of outposts is illegal. Yet we don’t see moderate Jews standing up and taking a firm stance against outpost building. Does this justify anti-Semitism? Are we to hold everyone in Israel responsible for the racist remarks made by individuals like Avigdor Lieberman? If I believe that settlement activity is a flagrant violation of International Law, am I justified in applying my feelings to the Jewish population writ large? I think not. I understand that there are a large number of peace-loving Israelis who despise settlement expansion just as much as I do. They use peaceful and legal avenues to express their grievances and work towards peace in the Middle East.
In the same way, I understand that Islamic extremists don’t speak for all of Islam. I am willing to listen to, and work with, moderate Muslims who want to work with the West in stopping future acts of terrorism. Maybe it’s time for the author of this article to start listening as well.
Federal Funds for Preventative Health Services
In response to the April 12th opinion piece, “Abortion clash at heart of shutdown debate,” VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood would like to correct some factual errors.
While the media surrounding the federal budget debates centered on abortion, the fact is that the federal funding in question is what allows Planned Parenthood to provide high-quality, low-cost, preventative health care to women, men, and teens. These federal dollars go to annual PAP exams, contraceptives, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment. Federal law already prohibits the use of federal dollars for abortion services via the Hyde Amendment. Thankfully, 58 US senators saw past the rhetoric behind this amendment; eliminating Planned Parenthood from federal grant money is not only fiscally irresponsible and bad public health policy, but it would also leave several hundreds of people in Alaska without access to basic preventative health services. Primarily, the people to bear the burden of that legislation would have been low-income and uninsured women. Thankfully, both Alaska senators, Senator Mark Begich and Senator Lisa Murkowski, saw the danger in this kind of legislation, and voted in favor of women’s health.
Planned Parenthood does more than any other organization in the nation to decrease the rate of abortion in our country. Nationwide, over 90% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood are preventative. And preventing unplanned pregnancies is the only way to lower the rate of abortion in the US. This means giving women, men, and teens access to the information and resources that will keep them healthy and help them plan whether and when to have a child.
April happens[ed] to be Get Yourself Tested (GYT) month, an effort put on by MTV and Planned Parenthood. Alaska often leads the nation with high rates of Chlamydia and gonorrhea—not to mention the high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence that our state reports every year. It seems we have very serious issues to face as a state. Arguing over the less than 1% of the federal budget that pays for annual exams is not helping anyone.
–VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood, UAA student club
By: Daniel Ribuffo
For those who don’t know, my job is the USUAA Speaker of the Assembly. This position requires me to be a non-biased member of the student government. That is to say, if an argument were to be taking place on the floor, I have to maintain neutrality and allow both sides of the argument to be presented. I hope you understand, now, my problem. For me, an unbiased member who allows everyone to share an opinion, to have to come out and speak against this paper means that the situation has gotten to the point where I am now compelled to say something. This is a sad state of affairs.
I did not endorse the budget because I feel that by passing a favorable vote for the budget of The Northern Light we would be sending a message to the students as a whole and the writers of The Northern Light that we are alright with the quality of the writing and substance that is in the paper. I feel that this is not the case. The paper has, on many occasions, misrepresented peoples’ words , along with having sloppy grammar and poor spelling. I’d like to state that this is not based upon an isolated incident; this is a chronic (weekly) problem. The articles are poorly written and the subject matter is rarely newsworthy. Most of the articles are full of exaggerations and unsubstantiated claims that detract from the truth and are being used to attempt to increase the readership. Such instances like printing a photo of our empty office on a Friday, and alluding that this is the norm is proof of this. There is a term for this type of journalism– it’s called yellow journalism. Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 10th Edition from 2009 states the definition of yellow journalism as: “the type of journalism that relies on sensationalism and lurid exaggeration to attract readers.” I feel that The Northern Light is a textbook case of this.
Addressing my concerns of how the newspaper affects us: The paper has rarely, in the two years I’ve been a part of USUAA, printed something that portrays us in a good light. That is to say, the bad outweighs the good. When representatives from The Northern Light came to the General Assembly meeting and gave a short list of positive articles, there was a lot of concern about how many negative articles were in print. They consistently print articles that portray USUAA as this dark looming “cloud” that sits above the student body simply waiting to “rain” on them. To say that we as an organization have done nothing good isn’t true. A lot of work is done in committees before being brought forth to the General Assembly. I have not once seen a writer from The Northern Light at the Student and Academic Affairs committee, and I would wager the same goes for every committee. I feel that writers for this paper forget that we are students and not by any stretch of the imagination perfect, and that we are volunteers willing to put in our time for the greater good. They simply stop at our titles and use that to “fight the man,” hoping to increase readership. One may wonder why USUAA is so looked down upon, and have trouble bolstering its numbers. This may be due to the repeated negativity that this paper gives us. Why would anyone like to be a crew member on this supposedly sinking ship? The Northern Light puts us on the defensive. We cannot anticipate every thing they say, and to change someones mind when their first impression is negative is incredibly difficult. I am not trying to say that everything about us needs to be printed to make us look like saints, but credit should be given where credit is due.
I have a few personal reasons that I feel are relevant to add to this as well. As Speaker, I have used this title to attempt to sit down and discuss concerns with the Executive Editor, and each time my requests have been ignored. On one occasion, times simply didn’t work and when I sent a counter proposal for a meeting time I never received a response. Another time I was simply ignored outright. I cannot be expected to continually extend an olive branch when all I receive are arrows in return. I also feel that it is irresponsible of University Employees to be allowed to harass students, with no recourse, under the guise of the First Amendment. As a fellow UAA student employee, if I were to behave in a manner like The Northern Light, I would be terminated without hesitation. This is, in essence, a case of harassment masquerading as the first amendment. A true journalist would know that they are protected, not that they can hide behind this.
In closing, I feel that I must reiterate that there is a problem. Please do not mistake this as wanting censorship– that is a far cry from the truth. It is, however, a rampant misuse of the power the newspaper holds, to report in the manner that they do. This problem is, in the most simple of terms, a blight– one that must be stopped.
Dear UAA community,
I’d like to make very clear my strong support of UAA’s military students. Having spent many years in the military, I have a personal understanding of the importance of service and the importance of education to help our military men and women succeed in their goals. During my first months at UAA, I have held meetings to learn more about how UAA is serving its military students. I am impressed by the many faculty and staff who are helping our military students – including financial aid coordinators, counselors, and military education coordinators. As chancellor, I will work to promote and enhance the support of both military personnel and their family members at UAA.
The recent article in The Northern Light depicts a very unfortunate series of events in a class in the College of Business and Public Policy (CBPP). Although we are not at liberty to discuss specific personnel matters, the dean and assistant dean in CBPP have made it very clear the importance they place on respecting our students’ military commitments and that they convey this strongly to their faculty.
As a former dean of CBPP, I’ve gone to bat personally – with phone calls all the way to the Pentagon – to assist our military students as they worked through both the university and military system. As chancellor, I will continue to “go to bat” for our military students.
UAA’s Student Handbook does not grant any group or class of students special privileges to miss class. The policy reads: “Students participating in official intercollegiate activities on behalf of UAA, including but not limited to competition in athletics, forensics and performing arts, are responsible for making advance arrangements with faculty members to enable them to meet course requirements. Faculty are encouraged to make reasonable accommodations for such students. In some cases accommodations may not be possible.”
In fact, the Student Handbook specifically indicates that faculty make the decision about attendance and in some cases “accommodations may not be possible.” It has always been our policy to strongly encourage faculty to be flexible and respect the military and other commitments of our students.
For the last two years in a row GI Jobs magazine has named UAA a Military Friendly School – one of only 1,600 in the entire country. We can and will do more. We recognize the value of having one individual dedicated to supporting our military students in their transition to college and are actively pursuing the VetSuccess On Campus program in connection with Sen. Begich. We hope that the program will be on our campus in the coming year. We are looking for more ways to assist both military personnel and their family members’ access to UAA and to support their student success.
I am proud to serve as chancellor of a Military Friendly School. We will work together to increase our support of military students and all students.
Letter to the editor by Meade Treadwell Lieutenant Governor.
I read with interest the Northern Light’s Editorial Opinion piece entitled “Abortion legislation gains momentum nation-wide,” dated February 15. It refers to Proposition 2, the parental notification bill, which passed on the August ballot, and erroneously states that the Attorney General of Alaska declared it unconstitutional.
In fact, John Burns, our Attorney General, is currently, vigorously, defending the constitutionality of that initiative against a lawsuit intended to set the law aside. While a court has deferred some of the penalties in the initiative, it left standing the law’s new requirement of parental notification by a doctor when a minor is seeking an abortion. I am glad for that, as I actively supported that initiative, and know it was crafted to respond to other Supreme Court opinions that outlawed a “parental consent” requirement.
There was an Attorney General’s opinion, however, which caused me –as Lieutenant Governor – to not allow a new voter initiative to move forward. That new initiative would have outlawed abortion by placing the “natural right to life” clause in the Constitution above others. The Attorney General found that unconstitutional. I followed by not allowing that measure to go forward to collect signatures to get on the ballot, and I am being sued for that decision as well.
I agree with your admonition that citizens should stay engaged on this issue. Government exists to protect life, to protect our liberties, and I pray that those two goals not forever be in conflict.
I am writing to clarify an article in the November 2, 2010 edition regarding the Kappa Sigma fraternity. For three years, the men of Kappa Sigma have been working to establish a national chapter of their organization and become registered at UAA. Last March, the Rho-Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Sigma was charter by the national organization. In September, they submitted paperwork to the Office of Student Clubs and Greek Life stating their intention to become a registered Greek organization at UAA. Last month, members of the organization presented to Greek Council about their chapter providing Greek Council an opportunity to learn about their recruitment events, their philanthropy projects, and their chapter leadership. Greek Council is in the process of writing a recommendation letter to the Dean of Students regarding their registration. Official registration of Kappa Sigma will be determined by the Dean of Students and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
Currently, UAA has three very active Greek organizations. These organizations enhance campus life by encouraging academic excellence, organizing service projects, promoting school spirit, and offering opportunities for leadership development. The Greek community looks forward to welcoming new organizations that help promote these ideals.
Jill Taylor?Leadership Coordinator for Student Clubs and Greek Life