Rethinking priorities for state collegesRecently I had the...

the Forum

January 04, 1993

Rethinking priorities for state colleges

Recently I had the misfortune of reading about the new cuts the Maryland Board of Regents proposed for the state system of higher education.

I realize that in these hard economic times those who are faced with balancing budgets and funding problems have hard choices to make. I wonder, however, what will happen to Maryland's system of higher education when the esteemed regents are through at the chopping block?

I have been a student at both Towson State University and the University of Baltimore, both primarily teaching universities. I enjoyed my education and valued it because the institutions' primary concern was to focus on education and enable me to walk away with some appreciation and knowledge in liberal arts.

From a student's point of view, I cared much more about the availability of professors in helping me with my needs and questions than who was a nationally known blah, blah, blah in research.

I do not discount that one needs these academic high rollers in certain departments and majors, and research serves a great purpose. But should the University of Maryland System, which should have as its goal to provide the best higher education for the taxpayers of Maryland, penalize the faculty who have spent a lifetime honing their teaching craft?

It is these educators who leave a lasting impression on their students and in the truest sense are the backbone of all higher education. Without a very good teaching faculty students soon learn that no one really cares about them and seek other institutions (often out-of-state) that will satisfy their educational needs.

There seems to be an understanding that by cutting the fat from the smaller institutions in the Maryland system, the University of Maryland at College Park will then have the resources to become a first-rate state university, able to compete with the nationally renowned state universities on an equal footing. But is this realistic?

The University of Maryland is not the University of California or the University of Virginia. It never has been and I doubt that in the span of a few years it will become a major player in this league.

So why sacrifice excellent educational opportunities at smaller campuses of the Maryland system to invest in a dubious goal at College Park, one from which the great majority of our taxpayers will never benefit?

I was thankful that I had choices in Maryland. I was grateful that I met teachers who cared about invoking a sense of learning.

Perhaps the Board of Regents should ask the student citizenry of Maryland what they want in this system of higher education, because without its students there is no funding and therefore no need for the system at all.

It's about time that this question of true education be addressed from the point of view of a student's need and not simply from a political point of view.

Nadia M. Guy

Baltimore

Stay out of Bosnia

Our government should not commit U.S. troops to Bosnia to intervene in a civil war fueled by religious and ethnic hatred.

In this savage conflict, there is no definition of victory; the U.S. contribution will simply be more human slaughter.

What is the likelihood that peace and stability will be achieved in Bosnia by an outside force such as the U.S. military?

The advocates of U.S. military intervention in Bosnia are mostly older, mostly affluent and mostly white; in contrast, the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who will be doing the dying are mostly young, mostly poor and mostly people of color.

If the draft were to be reinstituted and children of the middle class conscripted to fill the ranks of the infantry, would we see less enthusiasm for U.S. intervention?

President Bush's ordering, without congressional approval, 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia sets a precedent for President-elect Clinton to dispatch even more troops to Bosnia.

The rationale in Somalia is humanitarianism; the idea of defending our country has been abandoned.

The commander-in-chief does not pretend that there is a connection in Somalia with America's vital strategic interests or any clear military objective.

How humane is this policy to the next of kin of U.S. soldiers who will be killed, maimed, captured or reported missing in action?

In previous conflicts, service in the U.S. military was a patriotic expression of love of country, of a willingness to risk death in order to protect family and friends.

Now, President Bush has adopted a policy that treats military service as if it were a mercenary undertaking, using professional soldiers as if they were paid to fight other people's battles.

Would any of us let the government send a young person we loved to shed his or her blood in Bosnia?

Writing a check to feed the starving is a reasonable response; being appalled at the atrocities in Bosnia is an understandable emotional response; but sacrificing our sisters and brothers in uniform to die in Bosnia is inhumane.

Ray Hamilton

Baltimore

Happy motoring

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