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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 24, 2008 at 5:50 PM

Burner vs. Reichert: academic credentials

Thomas James Hurst / The Seattle Times

Democratic 8th Congressional District challenger Darcy Burner listens as incumbent Republican Rep. Dave Reichert responds to a question during their recent debate at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

Check the transcript

Editor, The Times:

So a U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert campaign spokeswoman charges that Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner was untruthful when, during a discussion on the economy, Burner stated that she has an economics degree, rather than saying she had a degree in computer science with an emphasis on economics [“Darcy Burner’s claims of a Harvard econ degree an exaggeration,” page one, Oct. 22].

When I was a student at the University of Washington, it was possible for students in the School of Fisheries to study wildlife science or food science without taking any fisheries courses, or study fisheries with an emphasis on wildlife or food science.

Regardless of what the student studied, their diploma was titled a “fisheries degree.”

When a student who studied exclusively in the food-science program complained about receiving a fisheries degree, a faculty member said, “Any idiot can read a transcript. You studied food science, and have a right to represent your degree as a food-science degree.”

Burner’s campaign clearly lists her degree as being in computer science and economics and the economics credits are in her transcript. I doubt if the Reichert campaign spokeswoman who has difficulty reading Darcy’s college transcript is “any idiot,” but she obviously believes the voters in the 8th District are complete idiots.

— Rob Nielsen, Seattle

Be straight with us

We need to have confidence that our lawmakers have integrity and can be counted on to tell us the truth as we face serious economic and political unrest in the world.

I went to a debate where I understood Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner say she had a degree in economics. I felt like she was telling me, “trust me, I have the academic expertise we need right now to lead the way through this economic crisis.”

I attended a meeting in Bonney Lake where she said she “worked her way through college to earn an economics degree.” Now we learn that her degree is in computer science and she took five classes in economics.

At the very least, she has inflated her credentials and deliberately misled us into believing she had a specific level of expertise to help us as we desperately fight for our own personal economic survival.

She has not only been deceptive, she has preyed upon our fears of an uncertain economic future when we are at our most vulnerable.

— Kathy Holt, Mercer Island

Give us a break

Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner minored in economics at Harvard, and because she called that a “degree” in a speech, The Seattle Times deems that worthy of a front-page headline?

Please give us all a break.

— Aaron Thomas, Seattle

Clarification, please

I hope you will have the grace and conscience to correct your misrepresentation of Democratic congressional candidate Darcy Burner’s educational achievements.

Perhaps it was not clear to you when you wrote your piece that Harvard does not award a “minor” or a joint degree.

Their description of a dual degree as a “XXX with a specialty in xxx” is mere semantics.

The fact remains that Burner’s thesis met the rigorous standards of two academic departments at one of the most highly respected schools in our country. To impugn this accomplishment implies a bias on your part and undermines your paper’s reputation for objective reporting.

— Susan Beverly, Newcastle

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