Waivers should be first step to free ed

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The university's attack on tuition waivers for senior Alaskans continues unabated. President Hamilton was motivated by the wave of opposition to modify his proposed ban to come up with "options" which may raise the age of eligible seniors, reduce the available waiver to a single class or demand income eligibility tests. These responses ignore the benefits to the entire Alaska community that flow directly from allowing seniors to fill empty seats in classrooms, the immediate benefits to seniors who must keep up with changing times and the lifetime learning experiences injected into classroom for younger students by senior Alaskans.

The university should see senior tuition waivers as a first step toward reduced or free education for all Alaskans regardless of age, not a benefit to be reduced. Has the bounty of public land placed into its hands for probable development caused the university to adopt the perspective and to ally itself politically with our untaxed corporate elite over ordinary Alaskans and their needs? The Institute of Social and Economic Research has formed a corporate advisory board. President Hamilton sits on the board of the Kodiak Rocket Facility, a direct beneficiary of the university's public land legacy.

These conflicts of interest and cozy political relationships may be driving the university's mission away from affordable higher education for all Alaskans. Continuing attacks on senior tuition waivers suggest this.

Stephen Conn


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