Letters to the editor on Independence Day, city fountains, higher-ed cuts, WSU dorm, scientists, gas prices

06/16/2013 12:00 AM

06/14/2013 6:18 PM

Remember those who gave us nation

In my childhood, I was fortunate to know elder relatives and neighbors who had known people with direct ties to the American Revolution. They knew the true significance of Independence Day. To simply call it “July Fourth” was highly offensive, because that missed its real significance.

Every public school prepared students for the event. People gathered to hear the reading of Thomas Jefferson’s magnificent Declaration, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and solemn renditions of patriotic music. Often there would be a fife and drum squad with children lustily beating the drums.

A solemn parade of America’s uniformed war veterans was always the highlight of the day, which ended with a flag ceremony and a choral prayer for preservation of our sacred Union and its Constitution.

Contrast that long-gone scene with today’s observance. Is there as much as a mention of the conditions of servitude from which those patriots fought and died to escape? Of the farmers and clerks who took up arms to defeat the greatest army in the world?

A highly commercialized, imported fireworks display is loud enough but lacks substance. Beer, brats and picnics also somehow fall short. Can we remember those who gave us our great nation, at least once a year?

Becoming acquainted with Veterans Memorial Park and the inspiring story of the American Revolution and Independence Day will enrich the lives of all of us.

PHIL BLAKE

Wichita

Water crisis

Thank you, Wichita City Council members Janet Miller and Lavonta Williams, for understanding the urgency of the city’s water crisis by opposing the decision to keep Wichita fountains operating (“Council OKs turning on decorative fountains,” June 12 Eagle). Shame on council members Pete Meitzner, James Clendenin, Jeff Blubaugh and Jeff Longwell for risking our survival by agreeing to squander our water for the sake of preserving an image. I sense they have never been parched.

Water is a necessity; image is a luxury.

CLARE D. O’LEARY-SIEMER

Wichita

Out of touch

While it’s nice that Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, is confident that the state university system can handle a 1.5 percent cut in operational funding, his reasons show just how out of touch he is with the realities of higher education (“University costs raise questions,” June 12 Letters to the Editor).

College costs are increasing in part because of the “business model” conservatives like Rhoades have been pushing for decades. Running a university like a business requires expensive marketing, stand-alone information technology infrastructures, and layers of middle management. None of that comes cheap.

With a business model comes competition, and universities have had to continually increase student amenities to remain competitive. That’s not cheap either.

Last, the “outcomes”-driven regimes that Rhoades thinks will solve all problems in higher education are generally bad fits for most students. These days, college students are likely to be adults with jobs and families, and measures based on graduating in four years and being placed in a job within one’s field of study fit neither these students’ lives nor current economic difficulties.

I am not sure what world Rhoades lives in, but it does not include today’s university.

LAEL EWY

Wichita

Dorm needed?

The die is cast, but I still want to disagree with a recent Opinion Line contributor who lauded Wichita State University’s president for building an on-campus dormitory. What is so off-campus about the current dormitories? Do students need an “Ambassador Hotel” only a hop, skip and a jump from their classrooms, many of which are housed in buildings as old as or older than their grandfathers?

This project will be built, as is the case with the Rhatigan Student Center expansion, on the backs of students paying higher housing and credit-hour fees. If I were a serious student today at any university or college, I would be more concerned about the appalling number of adjunct faculty and academic lecturers who are teaching their classes.

MARIJEAN BERG

Wichita

Looking for truths

Why do so many of us seem to doubt – or fear – what reputable scientists say about discoveries involving global warming, evolution or other scientific studies that affect us humans? Is it possible we lack an understanding of how scientists work?

If the research of scientists seems to contradict earlier findings, it’s as though they can’t make up their minds. Peer review sounds as though they are fighting to protect their “beliefs.” They are really just weighing evidence. They test and retest hypotheses. Unlike many of us who have our comfortable beliefs – and stick to them no matter what the facts are – they are looking for truths.

We Americans (including an alarming number of congressmen) are woefully lacking in our knowledge of science. The Eagle could help by offering interesting short articles on astronomy rather than printing meaningless horoscopes. Astrology is not science.

PHYLLIS STANLEY

Augusta

Gas price-fixing?

For years the gas prices in the small towns around Wichita have been higher. No longer. For the past several months, their prices have been lower.

Case in point: I bought gas last week in Salina at a Kwik Shop for $3.38 per gallon (includes 2-cent discount with card). The price in Wichita was $3.57 per gallon (with discount).

Because both cities get gas from refineries in McPherson and El Dorado, plus one in Coffeyville, the price should be the same. Why the difference? Do you suppose there is any price-fixing going on?

Where are the independent news media that investigate these things?

KENT STEDMAN

Wichita

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