Letters to the Editor

Statewide system in need of major change

As a UAA alumnus, I have never been so disgusted with the UA statewide system (“Maimon leaves UAA for Governors State University,” Feb. 20). They need to get a grip and realize that UAA is a growing university that deserves the resources and funding to grow and blossom. Some examples: It is time to develop a UAA graduate school, as well as offer stand-alone doctoral programs. It is time our nursing, engineering and biology programs increase the number of research opportunities that also offer terminal degrees. It is time our athletics program builds a new arena and moves up an NCAA division.

The sad thing is that with Chancellor Elaine Maimon, UAA was heading in that direction. Chancellor Maimon’s enthusiasm was inspiring; people started to believe in UAA. Now, we have lost a good leader that could have taken UAA to the next level. It is absolutely astonishing that UA Statewide would limit UAA from becoming a truly great university. UAA is not a community college, but it is a thriving university wholly engaged in the community it serves.

Let’s hope the new chancellor has the vision Dr. Maimon had for my alma mater. Let’s hope the new recently appointed (and existing) UA regents come to logically see that UAA is becoming prosperous and will also see that leaders at UA Statewide are off the mark when considering UAA as a 20th century community college. Dr. Maimon, farewell as you leave for your new post in Illinois.

Donald Leaver
Shreveport, LA

Columnist misses the point of democracy

Sam Dunham’s assertion that we should let our president run the country as if it were a dictatorship is further evidence of the decline of democracy in the western world (“Bush should have unlimited powers in time of war,” Feb. 20). Interestingly, the column begins with Mr. Dunham admitting that “Maybe he’s (Bush) not the smartest or wisest …” Thus follows his logic that Bush should have more control over our lives.

If you are indeed a philosophy major, then you must know that dictatorships usually end quite poorly. Many Germans must have thought, ‘Well, Adolf is kinda weird with the whole hatred of Jews thing, but let’s just blindly turn over the keys to him and allow him to make decisions for us.’ How did his dictatorship end? Oh yeah.

Even I don’t want to say Bush is on the same level as Hitler, but the point stands, especially when you consider this bit of American history: Where would we be if the brave men and women that formed our country didn’t stand up to King George’s reign and form a democracy where the citizens of the country could have a voice? Consider that, according to recent polls, nearly 70 percent of Americans want the war in Iraq to end. I ask you, how is Bush acting in our best interest on that? His 35 percent approval rating suggests that most citizens don’t trust him to run this country without checks and balances.

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It is time for us to stand up to our King George before he ruins our democracy and leads us into a fascist dictatorship. Democracy is not dead in the hearts of the people, just in the few that would choose personal power over the good of the people. Just the fact that we are able to debate in writing about our government is one of the greatest accomplishments of the democracy that you wish to throw away.

It saddens me to think that a young, educated person would wish to revoke his freedom and foolishly squander his right to have a voice and a choice in the direction of our great country. And all for a president that even he thinks is unwise.

Andrew Ladd

Anchorage

Group projects help cultivate learning

I am writing in response to the Feb. 13 editorial titled “Group projects are a waste of students’ time.” When I began teaching English 111, freshman composition, here at UAA, I was uncertain about collaborative projects and their effectiveness in the classroom, but after assigning my first group project, I cannot imagine not doing so in the future. The learning process behind collaboration is one that encourages students to learn from each other, a scary prospect considering the “every man for himself” mentality we are raised with.

According to the author of the editorial, “to lump everyone together in a classroom and call them peers is a stretch by any standard.” Professors who institute collaborative projects don’t assume that all students are equals; in fact, that is the appeal of assigning such a project. All students come from different backgrounds, and it’s these unique experiences that create diversity within the group and enhance the learning experience. If students stick to what they know, they aren’t challenged to view the world any differently. By adding contrary opinions and learning styles to the mix, students benefit by being active participants in their education. Furthermore, most professors I have spoken with focus on the process of collaboration, as opposed to the result.

The University of Alaska Anchorage, like any institution of higher learning, encourages an environment where students can grow as individuals. As a commuter school, as the editorial pointed out, it is even more important that students learn to work together, interact and grow as scholars. Books and lectures are wonderful learning tools, but the real learning comes through dialogue with one another, through both understanding and working through differences.

Erin Cornell-Barnett
Anchorage

‘Big, wild life’ should be aimed at drivers

At first thought, I didn’t think much of the new Anchorage theme ‘Big Wild Life,’ but then on my way to class I saw a city bus with the theme and a bike next to it. I hope the new theme wasn’t meant for Anchorage cyclists, as most of us ride fairly well. If the city wants the theme, perhaps we should apply it to our Anchorage drivers as well. Some of them drive Hummers only carrying one person and they treat Anchorage traffic laws as well as they treat a moose on the road. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so strange if the theme were intended for Anchorage drivers.

Erick Salado

Anchorage