Unhappy with a shift in conference focus

Posted: Friday, February 09, 2007

As a recent graduate of the University of Alaska Southeast, peer mentor, student government and student alumni member, and participant in last year's legislative affairs conference, I am greatly discouraged to hear of the lack of participation and support of some of the legislators at this year's legislative affairs conference.

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I am appalled to hear that much of the focus of the students' agenda to rally financial support for Alaska's universities was shifted by legislators to focus on the lack of vocational training and the future of the pipeline project in Alaska. There were some who felt that Alaskans need more vocational training (to support the pipeline project), that an academic education is not necessary, and those who are academically trained will not make as much money because there are no jobs for them following graduation.

To these people let me say that you will need graduates of the statewide university system to support the pipeline project. You will need the environmental scientists to evaluate and monitor the effects the pipeline has on the ecology of the area. You will need the historians and anthropologists to evaluate the project's effect on the Native culture, to clue you into how people view the event as time and thoughts change, and simply to record the history of the project. You will need the business majors to account for the financial management of the project. Finally, you will need the liberal arts graduates, those who have majored in English, communications and art to handle the public relations for the project.

I agree that vocational training should be an option for Alaskans. Nevertheless, I do not agree that those of us who have been educated in an academic setting will not have a future. We can fit into the pipeline project just as much as a welder can, if we so choose, but some of us have other aspirations.

I did not get a degree at UAS because I wanted to make more money. I received a degree in social science because it was something I was passionate about, and I am on my way to becoming a teacher because that is where my heart lies.

Let me ask those legislators involved, did you not receive and academic education? Why do you forsake it now? Do you hold your current position for the money, or because it was something that you are passionate about?

Christin Howard


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