Letters to the Editor – March 22, 2011
Congratulations Sun Star
Congratulations to the Sun-Star and especially Andrew Sheeler on a great earthquake report. I would also like to thank the person who commented on the News-Miner EQ report, directing readers to the Sun-Star for further coverage. As a UAF graduate, I’m proud to see the university continuing to excel.
Support green energy
It has recently come to my attention that a department within this university pulled travel funding from a student after notifying said student that the department would fund their travel. The reason? The department decided that due to the “political nature” of the event that the student wanted to attend, they could not afford to appear as “supporting” the politics involved. This particular student was going to attend Power Shift, a convention that focuses on leadership and organizational skills as well as shifting awareness away from Big Oil and King Coal towards alternative energy methods such as wind, solar and geothermal sources. So in light of this, this particular department does not want to show support for alternative and innovative ways for renewable and sustainable energy. Rather, the department seems to want to continue with the status quo and think within the box. How can a university department NOT support green and alternative energy? How can it deny its students the opportunity to learn new methods of power? I would think that a department with a budget and a student population that is probably very nearly the largest on this university would encourage their students to travel to conferences such as this and support green energy, especially with the degree this department offers; but this demonstrates to us how politics can impede progress. I just want the department to know that Green Energy is on its way, regardless of the politics involved, and if you want to support your students in their degree choice and ensure that they are on the front lines of innovation, effectively spearheading the push towards alternative and sustainable energy, thus broadening their career field, then support them in going to conventions such as these. Politics be damned.
Stop smoking out smokers
In March 8’s issue, the police blotter reported an increasingly common story: an individual charged with marijuana possession. What concerned me about the “Out for a Smoke” report was that a man tries to start smoking outside Lola Tilly Commons, and “police were contacted.” I would like to take issue with the anonymous tipster who felt compelled to ruin this guy’s day.
Seriously, ignorant sir or madam, what did this have to do with you? Someone chooses to consume a harmless plant within your line of sight, and your first instinct was to punish him for it. What is wrong with you? People like you, who blindly help enforce immoral laws, need to wake up and recognize that these “criminals” are normal people, whose favorite herb happens to be illegal. You’ve obviously never smoked, but imagine that you had to sneak outside to drink your morning coffee, more dangerous and addictive than Marijuana for its caffeine, and someone called the police on you. You would ask yourself the same question every Marijuana smoker asks: Why?
Although decades of government propaganda have done terrible things to the reputation of Marijuana, it is every individual’s responsibility to be properly informed before taking action. Whoever called the police in this instance lives in fear of a substance less harmful than coffee, alcohol, or cigarettes, and should read some factual evidence concerning the subject, instead of whatever
propaganda motivated them to smoke out this smoker.
Campus Research Day
Let’s do an experiment: Ask somebody “what is research? who is a scientist?” I predict that most will respond with something from the natural or physical sciences. Admittedly, Alaska’s only research university has highly visible indicators of important STEM research that typify the images in the public mind of science and research. However, expanding the science literacy of the public requires viewing research through a different lens, understanding science in a different context.
Consider the phrase ‘research university.’ How apropos we use a humanities term used to describe ourselves. The term research first appeared in 1539 to describe the act of searching closely (Old French rechercher: Cercher- “to seek for” and re- an intensifying prefix, “closely”). Research at UAF also occurs in less visible settings-faculty offices, archives, studios, rural villages, as well as laboratories. There liberal arts scientists (Latin scient for “knowing” “skillful”) are researching topics as fascinating and varied as the world in which we live. Research, by computer artist Miho Aoki culminated in a supercomputer tsunami animation featured on NOVA. Science by historian John Heaton contributed new understanding of efforts to produce hydroelectric power in Southcentral Alaska during the Cold War era.
Campus Research Day is UAF’s showcase for undergraduate research. In addition to the possibility of a cash prize, a student poster presentation is a good resume item for employment or graduate school applications. No fooling! The application period opens April 1. I particularly challenge CLA undergraduates and their faculty mentors to consider this a teachable moment.
Anita Hartmann, PhD
UAF College of Liberal Arts