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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 23, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Higher education funding and priorities

Stop the special treatment of athletes

Everywhere these days, it seems we are challenged and confronted at all levels with the absolute need to reorder our personal, governmental and societal priorities. I want to believe that the president, regents and other administrators of our local paragon of higher education, the University of Washington, would understand that they, too, must participate in this reordering process.

Alas, in several of their recent actions and decisions, specifically the outlandish, multimillion-dollar contracts for football coaches and the absurd lobbying push for $150 million Husky Stadium from the state of Washington, I have found little evidence that the university’s leaders and administrators “get it.”

As the only member of our family who is not a UW graduate (my wife and both adult children are alumni), I pick carefully the issues on which I give the school poor marks. However, after reading Nick Perry’s front-page story [“Doors Close at UW,” News, Jan. 17], I simply had to decry the decision to exclude “athletes” from this spring’s admissions limitation.

It’s not that I object to a student being an athlete, but if the UW’s critical-core mission is to educate, then emphasis should be put on the word “student” not on the word “athlete.” For our common good, the president, regents, other administrators and the rest of us must abandon the wrongheaded policy and practice of placing “athlete-students” ahead of “student-athletes” in the admissions line.

— Edward Kushner, Bainbridge Island

Future investment in a healthier society

Recently, there has much discussion about sacrificing college affordability in order to reel in the state’s deficit. As a college student myself, I certainly do not want to see this happen. However, aside from my own interest in the subject, statistics relating to the economic benefits of higher education show that an investment in college students is an investment in the future of the economy.

Making drastic cuts in higher education would be an impetuous response to the current financial crisis. Some of the main economic benefits to a well-educated citizenry are increased tax revenue generated by higher employment rates, a healthier society less dependent on social services and decreased crime and incarceration rates with increased educational attainment.

The facts conclusively show that cutting higher-education funding and balancingthe state budget on the backs of students and their families will only further hurt the economy. If sound public policy is the product of disciplined prudence, then our state leaders must act upon the understanding that a college education is the engine that will ultimately drive our state out of this financial crisis.

— Jake Stillwell, Ellensburg

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