Letters to the Editor: Oct. 18, 2011
Dear Ms. Bryant,
I am writing in response to your recent editorial regarding the Sun Star’s self-improvement survey. Such a survey is a laudable exercise, and I’m glad you’re trying to solicit feedback. However, I have a few questions: where was this survey posted? Was it in your printed paper? Was an email sent out on the UAF student list serve? Were there fliers in the wood center? I’m asking because I would have loved to fill out a survey to improve the Sun Star, but I didn’t know it was being done. Since every student pays the student activity fee, we should all have had a chance to participate. Another area of concern was that you mentioned that the Sun Star had been working on the survey for the last few months. That’s great, except that school’s only been in session for one month. In the future, if you’re going to ask for feedback on a publication to which students are obligated to subscribe, please solicit feedback from the entire community. 51 people are a pretty poor turnout for the 10,000+ students throughout Alaska who pay their student fees. Thank you for your time.
Editor’s Note: The survey was posted on the Sun Star website in May. There was both a page link to it and the right-hand vertical ad has advertised it for the majority of the time since May 20. I created the survey immediately after I took over as editor, to get reader reaction to last year. The survey itself was not printed in the paper, however a prominent advertisement for the survey ran in the first 5 issues. Also we had an iTunes gift card drawing for participants. Emails were sent out over different listservs. We also posted links to the survey on our Facebook page multiple times, as well as the University’s Facebook page. The Sun Star does its best to make sure readers have the opportunity to submit feedback. I also had hoped for more responses, but we can’t poll forever, and I promised to release the results. As a side note, 10,000 students may pay fees in Alaska, however approximately only 5,000 of them pay at UAF.
This semester I made friends with a freshman named Timmy. Timmy has a muscular disorder that requires him to use a walker. Timmy loved living at UAF; one of his favorite things to do was creating corny pickup lines. “Girls can’t slap me, I’m special,” he’d say, but he was always too shy to use them. After a month, Timmy decided to he had to leave. He felt that in the winter getting to places like the Tilly would be too hard for him with his walker. It made me think about how inaccessible our campus really is to people with disabilities.
Last week UAF completed a new set of stairs in front of MBS. It looks great, smack between the two sets of stairs that were already there. There is no ramp in front of MBS; you have to go to the back or up the road and around. The University is constructing an 88 million dollar building on West Ridge. Meanwhile, every year students fall and get hurt walking down the hill to the Tilly. Just a portion of that construction cost could build a covered walkway similar to the indoor “spines” that connect buildings at UAA. I’m not trying to criticize but I feel that safety and accessibility for all students needs to take priority over new buildings and useless staircases. Students like Timmy deserve and education as much as anyone else.
Value of a degree
I was listening to Morning Edition on October 14 and one of the topics was about Occupy Wall Street, featuring student interviews about the movement. There was one that truly struck a chord, a phrase “a bachelor degree means nothing these days.” I would occupy Wall Street just for that. Why, after thousands of dollars of “university education,” a bachelor degree will not open doors? This is an expensive piece of paper to simply mean NOTHING. Sadly. I feel that the student interviewed was right. Universities answer me this: why am I paying money for a product (education) that will not help me. Why are you not training me in a way that I would be employable? Why aren’t you teaching relevant things? Am I participating in a big con?