Category: Letter to the Editor

February 18, 2015 Contributor

Submitted by Kyle Pace

Where do the priorities of UAA truly lie? I have been to three different prioritization meetings since last week and I don’t seem to be any closer to finding an answer to this question. Each time I listen to the Chancellor’s cabinet tell a similar story to new faces, and while that story sounds good I don’t think it is really reflective of the behind-the-scenes reality. I have heard faculty ask difficult questions about whether or not their programs were going to be cut, I have heard parents want to know whether or not their young children are going to have a future on campus, and I have listened to students wondering whether or not sustainable UAA is part of our campuses future. Every answer I have heard seems to be very general and lacking any specifics and it seems to me that those in charge do not have any concrete ideas about the future.

So where do the priorities of UAA lie? Do they lie in investing money into the small number of athletes on campus? With a brand new stadium and major improvements to the hockey teams locker rooms this looks likely. Do the priorities lie simply in the science and engineering programs? With a brand new Engineering Building and very little money to run it I wonder what the future of the humanities are on campus? Or maybe the future of UAA is a sustainable one in which we bring more local foods, renewable energy, and recycling to campus.

I think when all is said and done the big problem is communication. I am forced to speculate over the future of our campus because I simply do not know what is going on in the minds of those who will be making these decisions. It is very frustrating to be stuck in a state of limbo where nothing is certain. The only thing I know for sure right now is that we need to find a way to open lines of communication between the ones making the big decisions and the ones affected by those decisions. Transparency and communication every step of the way is key to creating a healthy atmosphere on campus during these uncertain times. I don’t expect those in charge to have all the answers but I would much rather hear them say “We just don’t know right now but we’re working on it, and here’s how you can talk to us about it” rather than hear the same form of answers time and time again.

 

March 26, 2014 Letter to the Editor

Recently chided by a well-meaning citizen for not arguing against SB176 (I had, in fact, declared clearly to the Senate Judiciary Committee that, as written then and now, the University of Alaska Board of Regents would not support the bill, but no matter), I asked myself: “Argue against what?”

December 10, 2013 Annie Route

Working at UAA since 1986 has been an amazing experience. Most of our students weren’t even born when I started here. I’m thankful for UAA, what its achieved, and what it has in its future. Consider these additions to campus in the last 27 years:

  • MAC apartments
  • New residence halls and Gorsuch Commons
  • The library expansion including the green light saber roof light and the cool Foucault pendulum
  • Rasmussen Hall and the new home of the College of Business & Public Policy as well as Native Student Services*, Multicultural Center*, Disability Support Services*, Career Services, and the Student Health & Counseling Center* (*new student services since 1993)
  • The University Center One Stop services and academic offices
  • Conoco Phillips Integrated Sciences Building…oh yea, and a parking garage
  • The ANSEP building
  • The Health Sciences building
  • And this fall our new Alaska Airlines Center followed by the new Engineering & Industry building

That’s a LOT.

Yet, UAA is more than its facilities. It’s the students, staff, and faculty who make it what it is. I know it’s easy to complain about parking and food service – believe me those are universal college complaints. But there are real people behind those services, ALL the services and programs at UAA, and they’re trying to make our university a better place.

This year alone the UAA community has lead, coordinated, participated in, or learned from these programs and presenters (this is the short list!)

  • Kenji Yoshino, NYU Law Professor, MLK Student Appreciation Speaker
  • The first Emerging Leaders Conference with Toastmasters International
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ show
  • UAA’s Relay for Life
  • Dan Savage and the Savage World Tour
  • Campus Kick-Off and comedian, Nick Offerman
  • 20th anniversary of A Cappella Festivella with Pentatonix
  • Seawolf Volleyball
  • Alaska Federal Court Judge Beistline
  • The Shopping Cart Parade and the Homecoming Dance
  • Jean Killbourne, author and filmmaker
  • The Big River Musical
  • World Champion, Ryan Avery,
  • Winning the Governor’s Cup in Hockey vs. UAF
  • Candy Chang “Before I die…” artist and juror of No Big Heads
  • USUAA Thanksgiving Day Feast
  • …and I know there are many, many more.

So, take a moment and be thankful for what we have and consider how to get involved in what’s coming in 2014. It’s great to have new facilities and programs.  It’s the people, though, that make a difference. Happy New Year UAA!

 

Annie Route
Director of Student Life & Leadership
Administrative advisor to TNL

 

December 10, 2013 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.

November 26, 2013 Letter to the Editor

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.

Bill Kerschner
Rockford Illinois

November 21, 2013 Letter to the Editor

Some have asked us why we’re doing this. Why are we in support of a smoke-free UAA? All of us on the UAA Smoke-Free Task Force have been affected by smoking. We’ve watched family and friends struggle to quit. Some of us have watched loved ones die. It is because of them we’re doing this.

November 12, 2013 Letter to the Editor

I don’t smoke. Why would I? My grandmother died from lung cancer while living in Palmer with my parents and I. She exposed me to direct secondhand smoke almost daily.

October 15, 2013 Letter to the Editor

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.

September 17, 2013 Letter to the Editor

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.”

September 17, 2013 Letter to the Editor

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

 

September 10, 2013 Letter to the Editor

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.

Danny Earl
Psychology major

May 29, 2013 Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

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. 

April 3, 2013 Web Editor

* Please ask your legislators to support “HB 43 – University Institutes of Law and Medicine” sponsored by Representatives Kawasaki, Josephson, Tuck, and Kerttula.

What about a medical school in Alaska? It is in our best interest to have excellent medical education and teaching hospitals where we live.

The acronym, WWAMI, stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho; five states that have one medical school at University of Washington.  Alaska gets 20 places yearly at University of Washington. We need local health professionals. Because of the leadership of Harold Johnston, M.D., Alaska has 36 Primary Care Residents at Providence Family Medicine Center. Many of these Residents have remained in Alaska and gone to Bush areas to practice. If a medical school were started, more Alaska medical residency programs will be established.

The comparative costs of health care in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and North Dakota shows that Alaska health care is much more expensive according to the Milliman Report “Drivers of Health Care Costs in Alaska and Comparison States”  http://dhss.alaska.gov/ahcc/Documents/docs/drivers_healthcare_costs.pdf 11/29/11

What about a law school here in Alaska, the only state in the U.S. that does not have one?  As Alaska population has doubled, the number of Alaska lawyers has not kept pace with our population growth.  There are about 2,500 In-State Alaska attorneys and 601 Alaska Active Out of State attorneys for a total of 3,100 Alaska attorneys per Todd Communications Alaska Directory of Attorneys Page 2 Fall, 2012.  Therefore, 24% of the Alaska attorneys are Alaska Active Out of State. This is the highest percentage in the U.S.  Why are there 601 Alaska Active Out of State attorneys, most of whom have never landed on our soil?   Alaska Active Out of State attorneys are making money off Alaska.

Ms. Leslie Need, new lawyer liaison Board of Governors Alaska Bar Association, reported in March, 2013 Alaska Bar Rag that in the last five years 37% of the Alaska Bar licensees have been by reciprocity.  Why is there only about a 60% passage rate on Alaska Bar Exam, most of whom are Alaskans? Some other states have 30% higher passage.  All Wisconsin law school graduates are inducted into Wisconsin Bar without testing.  Alaska residents licensed to practice law in one of the 39 reciprocal states should be allowed to practice here without testing.  http://www.alaskabar.org/servlet/content/reciprocal_jurisdictions.html

Dr. Talis Colberg, Alaska attorney since 1984, Ph.D., Alaska Attorney General 2006-2008, and current Director, Mat-Su College, wrote a column in Alaska Bar Rag “Election of an Attorney General” published 12/12 stating that our then 53 year old state has had 24 appointed Alaska Attorneys General.  43 states has elected Attorneys General.  Dr. Colberg concluded:

“. . .It is a mistake to make the chief law enforcement office of the state an at will employee of the governor. . . . Alaska would be better off with an elected Attorney General.”

If you are told that Alaska cannot afford medical and legal education, please respond that Alaska has probably over $20 Billion in reserves currently.  American medical and legal education Alaska will save money and lives in the long run.  Let’s make certain HB 43 passes in the 28th Alaska Legislature.

 

Theresa Obermeyer

UAA student

April 3, 2013 Web Editor

Many important issues were raised in the Women’s History Month edition of The Northern Light, nearly all of which were either only vaguely touched on yet overshadowed by inconsequential nonsense or entirely redirected in a way harmful to women everywhere. There are numerous examples of this in nearly every article, but I will confine this letter to what I think are the most important.

I will first address your statement that this was not intended to be the “feminist” or “angry girl” edition of the Northern Light. The false notion that feminists are “angry girls” is probably the most damaging misconception to the feminist movement.

Feminism is simply the idea that women are people and should be treated as such. So while you were clearly intending this statement to tell your readers that this edition wasn’t going to follow the stereotypes attributed to feminists, you were in effect confirming these stereotypes. This was a very thoughtless thing to do in an issue supposedly dedicated to women.

In the Letter From The Editor segment of the paper, you touch on the story of Landen Gambill, who was “charged with violating the student honor code” after filing a complaint against the school after it “nearly ignor(ed) her claims about being raped and abused by her boyfriend, another student.”

This is a very important topic, one that doesn’t get much press. This was an opportunity to discuss the crucial issue that rapists and other sexual assailants are protected by institutions of education, places of employment, the judicial system, and the military to a degree one wouldn’t even expect of a far less developed society. Instead you say, “Because even when women are at their weakest and most vulnerable, our voices about our vaginas are considered ‘intimidating.’” I think this statement is offensive and inappropriate because you imply that this woman was in her “weakest and most vulnerable state” because she had been raped, despite the fact that she was demonstrating her admirable and laudable strength by fighting against those who wronged her.

You then ignore the real issue of the school defending her rapist by saying she was silenced because they found her discussing her vagina to be intimidating. Rape and domestic violence are very serious issues that cannot be reduced to “talking about her vagina.”

I was very happy when I saw Rosie the Riveter on the cover of The Northern Light. However, after reading the articles within this issue, I found its overall content not only dissatisfying and a poor attempt at representing women positively in the media, but this edition also confirmed in the name of empowerment the very same negative stereotypes of women commonly propagated by the media.

 

Kevin Bartlett

UAA student

April 3, 2013 Web Editor

Dear Editor,

My aunt always told me, “If you see a person driving off a bridge to stay out of the way. You do not want to turn a suicide into a homicide.” Well, this article is not about a car crash but on Greek Life on campus.

After Kappa Sigma did not become a recognized fraternity on campus last semester, I sought answers from Greek Council.

Because Sau Alpha Epsilon is the only fraternity on campus, I thought the process to bring a new fraternity to Greek Life would be a smooth transition, but it was not. I then realized starting a new fraternity — in my case, Tau Kappa Epsilon — was difficult.

I looked at Greek Council and found out SAE members held three votes on USUAA Student Government Assembly, two coming from senators’ seats, and one from a Greek Council Representative. Additionally, since SAE members contribute five out of eight votes on Greek Council.

This disproportion representation in positions of power makes SAE an unfair deciding factor amongst the student population concerning council decisions. The Dean of Students has the final say in the creation of fraternities, but she receives a recommendation from the council regarding Greek life matters.

On Feb. 22, 2013, Greek Council voted five “against” and four “for” votes in establishing TKE as a temporarily recognized fraternity.

Is this kind of injustice American? Our founding fathers fought against tyranny through the Declaration of Independence. Is it American to let a fraternity dictate Greek Council decisions by having five out of eight votes?

I suggest Greek Life should adjust it policies concerning its voting members. More Greek organizations should establish their presence on campus, because Greek life should be more than a social club tucked away in the Student Union. Greek life should be engaged in the communities of our campus, other than periodically selling baked goods. If Greek Council will not allow more Greek organizations, why their presence needed at all?

Mabil Duir

English & Political Science Major

 

January 22, 2013 Web Editor

Dear Editor,

In just three years a remarkable and inspiring effort has taken root at UAA. Known as the TAPESTRY program, this effort brings together students with and without intellectual disabilities, academic professionals and community volunteers to assist with addressing the unique challenges faced by college students with intellectual disabilities.

But I write not just to sing the praises of those endeavoring for the success of this effort. I also write to ask for those with a similar interest or commitment to join us. We need students to serve as peer mentors for the Spring 2013 semester. If you see the potential for new friends and even more new opportunities to learn then peer mentorship is probably right for you. And it could count for internship, practicum or service learning credit as well.

If you are interested in being a TAPESTRY mentor give us a call at 786-6038 or visit us in PSB 212L.

Brandon Copeland

Program Liaison

TAPESTRY

January 22, 2013 Nita Mauigoa

It’s January and the campus is an icy, slippery mess.

On my first day back at school, my husband dropped me off at the walkway leading to the Beatrice McDonald Hall by West Campus Drive.

December 3, 2012 Web Editor

Dear Editor,

The University of Alaska Anchorage student body consists of over 20,000 students. Undergraduate and graduates are broken into the following ethnic categories: 60 percent whites, 13 percent American Indian/Alaskan Native, 7 percent Asian and Latino, 4 percent African- American, 6 percent “ethnicity unknown” and 3 percent mixed race.

African-Americans and Latinos do not have a semester history class offering at UAA main campus specific to their ethnicity, while many others do. UAA provides classes in both Western and Eastern Asian Civilization, U.S. History, Women’s Studies, China and Alaska history. But the history department fails for minority students by only hosting Black History at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson campus in the evening, and it isn’t offered every semester.

By offering African American & Latino History as a general education humanities requirement at the University of Alaska Anchorage main campus, students will be provided with cultural experience by gaining an educational perspective on the social, economic, intellectual and political conditions of a people that have been deeply a part of American history.

The purpose of humanities courses is to give students incentives in studies that provide learning opportunities regarding the human condition by encouraging an analytical and critical approach to philosophy, language, religion, art, theater and music. Because of the importance of learning about these different people and cultures, I propose that the university not only offer an African-American and Latino history class, but require it for undergraduates.

Mabil Duir

English and Political Science Major

October 1, 2012 Matt Brown

In both the Sept. 8 and Sept. 20 issues of The Northern Light, the paper has run an Op-Ed by “TNL Staff” displaying an astounding lack of education about, quite frankly, very simple facts about finances and economics. That the editorial staff not only apparently wrote the article themselves, and then didn’t bother to vet the article through any of the dozens of staff members working at our university who might be able to clarify their concerns raises significant questions about the efficacy of its current editorial staff.

First, let’s look at the first paragraph of the Sept. 8 article, “’Not enough money’ is a poor excuse for tuition hikes,” which I quote in its entirety:

“The tuition increase proposed for the University of Alaska system is unwarranted. While most people can understand and appreciate the fact that the proposed 2 percent increase is the lowest in ten years, what can’t be understood is why the increase is necessary.”

Not only is this statement flat-out false, it displays an outrageous lack of even bothering to investigate the underlying cause of the increase. In The Northern Light’s own interviews with Bruce Schultz in the July 25 issue, he explains outright what the increase is covering:

“It’s important for students to understand that at UAA, tuition accounts for about 33% of the cost to provide educational service,” explained Schultz. “Just like everything else, our costs increase over time with inflation. If you look at the consumer price index increase from last year, we are actually on par nationally.

Since this apparently needs to be literally spelled out to TNL’s purposely-ignorant staff, what this means is that the tuition increase is not “real,” to you and I because the increase is only accounting for the fact that the dollars is your wallet lost its value by the same percentage. Everything you buy is getting the same percentage increase in price! Food, gas, movie tickets, clothes, beer, you name it. To call out the UA system as trying to somehow “rob” students of an extra whopping $4 to $5 per credit (which, let’s be honest here, is complete pocket change that you would have no worries blowing on some unneeded expense anyways) to complete garbage and sensationalism to the highest degree.

I’m actually paying for you to print this? Allegedly, these staff members are (or were) students here and would at least know what the term “homework” means, even if their current classes may not require much of it. I would hope you could spend 2 minutes on the Wikipedia reading what inflation means instead of printing an article blasting something you obviously know nothing about nor care to.

Next, we tackle the recent article from the Sept. 20 issue titled, “Permanent Fund Dividend amount disappoints Alaskans.” Let’s again take a look at the very first sentence of the article:

The announcement Tuesday of the first dividend payment below $1,000 in many years caused recipients to question the fairness of this amount.

This article stuns me on two levels. Let’s get the obvious out of way: TNL staff decided to interview four people for this seven-paragraph article, three of which are UAA staff, none of which were members of the Economics, Accounting, or Finance department. Are TNL staff members really so stupid? Is this just pure laziness? Is there some malice at play? A grudge by TNL staff members against people who might actually know what they’re talking about?

Second: the first staff member chosen to be interviewed (poorly chosen as he might have been), Bill Hogan, explains the reason for the decrease in the PFD amount, and I quote:

He noted, however, that the dividend is figured at the average of five years of fund income and that this included some years of the economic downturn.

Yet, TNL staff completely blows off this explanation as if it’s not correct or even relevant. Once again, let me spell it out for you: This is how the system is set up. You aren’t Tom Brokaw and this isn’t The Fleecing of America. If TNL staff spent 3 minutes researching before running their mouth off (roughly the amount of time I just spent finding the PFD website, downloading the pdf form of the guide sent to every Alaska resident every year and copying this next quote) they would have found this paragraph:

 

Each year, the dividend distribution is calculated using a formula set in state law. The formula is based on an average of the Fund’s income over five years in order to produce a more stable flow of dividend amounts from year to year.

There is nothing “unfair” about your PFD check this year. The only thing unacceptable here is your feeling of entitlement to a certain minimum of “free” money that is be collected from sources that are, I’m confident is saying, highly ironic considering how often TNL staffers rail on big business, big oil, and land investments (hint: that’s where the yearly gains of the Permanent Fund come from). If you have to blame someone, blame the stock market, blame the economy, blame TNL staffer’s hero Barack Obama (to ward off ad hom attacks, I voted for Obama and considering how Romney is doing, will most likely do so again).

This analysis also demonstrates that there is someone just as equally to blame for this shameful display of pathetic journalism: UAA staff. The Journalism department and TNL editorial staff are obviously not doing their jobs if this crap gets published in a print newspaper. Isn’t the adage: “Check, check, and check again?” Do you really expect me to believe that your writers couldn’t find the time to put forth even the most basic efforts in researching before writing your articles? I put more effort into this article, and I’m just sitting in RH on a break between classes, and I’m not even getting paid for this.

Next: I’m both blaming and calling out our Economics department especially. For a field of social science that so loves to proclaim that it is the oldest and most essential of them all (despite myriad intra-field disputes), and espouses the need to make sure that what happens in theory is actually what happens “on the ground” (i.e. in real life), they sure don’t know what happening on the ground on their own campus. I waited until now to submit this article hoping that any UAA staff member would submit their own response; after two subsequent issues since the tuition increase and no such response, I have to do it myself it seems.

Finally, I call out the UA system, UAA department heads, and Economics departments in all the UA schools: This ignorance of incredibly basic financial and economic institutions displays your failures. The viewpoints portrayed in the TNL articles are the norm, even while being false. You pack our degrees with years and thousands of dollars in coursework that doesn’t apply to our fields with the justification that it makes us “more well-rounded individuals,” yet you obviously miss a curriculum that would provide a demonstrable level of necessary education to the student body.

We need a course entitled “Economics for Everyday Life,” it needs to be required for all degrees, and it needs to be taken the first semester of school for every student. Full Stop. It won’t address Macro or Microeconomics on anything more than a superficial level. The goal will be to educate students on the fallacious arguments that are so common in society: obviously, inflation and how our wallets are actually affected; supply and demand in terms of the “necessity” of big business; how the stock market and actually helps you and me overall, even when things that get bad are really bad; how both outsourcing and the illegal immigrants in the southwest are making our economy stronger. These are things that will actually make people change their views, and promote the general welfare of everyone.

If TNL staffers really want to help its peers, put your anger where it’s most productive, put this dead center front page, and prove it.

April 24, 2012 Letter to the Editor

Hello, my name is Allyson Christine Pagan Rodriguez, and I’m a third-year college student at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey. Last semester I had the opportunity to visit Alaska as part of a national student exchange program, choosing UAA as my host campus.

March 6, 2012 Letter to the Editor

A concerned local Anchorage resident sent TNL a letter to the editor to discuss Governor Sean Parnell’s decision to stop students from continuing on their parent’s health insurance after they turn 24.

July 12, 2011 Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor by Al-Hajj Frederick H Minshall: On June 17, 2011 Daniel McDonald boasted of the “great enthusiasm” with which he would “dismantle” Brett Frazer’s arguments objecting to McDonald’s bigoted proclamations toward my faith and those who follow it.

May 31, 2011 Letter to the Editor

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.

 

-Brett Frazer

May 31, 2011 Letter to the Editor

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

April 19, 2011 Letter to the Editor

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.

April 12, 2011 Letter to the Editor

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.

Sincerely,

Tom Case
Incoming Chancellor

April 14, 2009 Northern Light

Consumer Freedom, the group that ?”compiled” the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services data against PETA, a pro-animal rights non-profit, is an arm of a front group whose largest sponsors include the slaughterhouse and restaurant industries. Their Web site even says so.? Let’s think about that conflict of interest for a moment.
This is the same group who pretends to act in the interests of consumers, when they are actually bought and paid for by big business.
For example, Consumer Freedom argues that lifestyle, not diet, are the causes of obesity. They argue that foods and soft drinks are constantly under attack for causing our nation’s obesity problem.
If The Northern Light followed the money, they would find the long list of sponsors who fund this group include the fast food and soft drink industries.?
Consumer Freedom argues that soda is not correlated to childhood obesity. They argue that obesity is not correlated to overeating. They even argue that you can be overweight and still be considered healthy! No joke! Visit their Web site and see for yourself: www.consumerfreedom.com
Our student club, UAA Consumer Rights Advocacy Group, looked at the actual DACS data concerning the PETA article and we believe it does not add up to what Consumer Freedom found, and subsequently what The Northern Light printed.
Is not the job of The Northern Light to make sure sources are legitimate and figures are accurate before publishing them?
We demand that The Northern Light run the data for themselves – instead of relying on highly biased secondary sources – and apologize to its readers for misinforming and propagating.
?
Zach Liszka
UAA Consumer Rights Advocacy Group

April 7, 2009 Northern Light

Former Mayor Begich left us with a $17 million budget deficit. He departed to D.C. smelling like a rose, leaving our city in the hole. Furthermore, he was well aware of this deliberate shortage. To our detriment, liberal candidates for mayor Matt Claman and Sheila Selkregg voted to approve this atrocious budget insufficiency. Why didn’t they object and act vigilantly at the appropriate time? Claman and Selkregg facilitated this huge budget shortfall and they didn’t even read all of the contracts they amply approved! We cannot trust politicians who mismanage our taxpayer money. I met Dan Sullivan at a forum earlier this month and he is conservative and will be a budget hawk. Dan Sullivan was Assembly Budget Chairman three times and served nine years on the assembly. Dan has the experience we now need to lead us through this economic fiasco. Let’s vote for Dan Sullivan for Mayor.

Dana Thompson
Anchorage

April 7, 2009 Northern Light

In response to your opinion piece “Animal rights activist group exposes murderous hypocrisy” (3/31/09), it was disappointing to read Mr. Boyer’s inflammatory and misleading article about the dog and cat overpopulation crisis. There are many companies and front groups that profit directly from the exploitation of animals and attempt to discredit PETA because we hurt their bottom line. They aim to damage our organization by misrepresenting the situation and the number of unwanted and suffering animals PETA euthanizes because of injuries, illness, age, aggression and other problems; because their guardians requested it; or because no good homes exist for them. Most of these animals are unsocialized-they have never lived indoors and instead spent their entire lives suffering outside on a chain all year round, often becoming aggressive. Most of the animals PETA took in and euthanized were not adoptable-and were taken in precisely because they were not adoptable.
?PETA handled far more than 2,124 animals in 2008. In fact, we took in more than 10,000 dogs and cats, spaying and neutering all of them at low or no cost. The figures cited also do not include the hundreds upon hundreds of dogs whose owners are indigent and whose suffering PETA works to alleviate by providing them with free food, clean water buckets, sturdy wooden doghouses, straw in the winter and much more. The figures also do not include the hundreds of adoptable dogs and cats we do not take in but instead refer to walk-in animal shelters and adoption centers.
?The fact of the matter is that overpopulation is an issue that animal shelters are dealing with nationwide, and for Mr. Boyer or anyone else to place the blame for this issue on PETA or other animal protection organizations that are trying to help combat the crisis is misguided at best. ?

Ryan Huling
College Campaign Coordinator
Peta2.com

March 31, 2009 Walt Monegan

My name is Walt Monegan and I’m running for mayor. I’m also a UAA alumnus, have a campaign team that includes a UA Regent, a UA alumni chapter president, a UA graduate student and multiple other UA alumni. I am on a search committee for the new Justice Center Director and have been involved with the University for years. As mayor, I will continue that relationship.
I understand that the University is a major economic driver for the Anchorage economy, but we can accomplish even more if we partner on key issues. I’d like to see WWAMI-like programs at UAA for a variety of hard-to-fill career paths.
When I was a cop, APD paid for employees’ college expenses. I’d like to explore the idea of paying for students’ expenses in qualified programs before they are hired with the expectation that they work for the Municipality as a police officer, nurse, etc. for a set number of years to repay the costs. I would like the University to play a stronger role in my Administration than it has in previous ones. I would count on ISER, UA faculty and student research to help myself and others improve our governing of Anchorage.
APD has worked very well with the UAA Justice Department in the area of criminal statistics. We can expand these relationships to other departments and other areas. The Municipality would benefit by putting more minds into solving the challenges we all face.
For more information please check out my website: www.MoneganForMayor.com Don’t forget to vote April 7th at the Campus Center, Loussac or City Hall.

Walt Monegan
Eagle River