Of all the places to try to stifle speech …
Does anybody else see the irony in a member of a group called Students for a Democratic Society instigating an effort to deny Condoleezza Rice her right to free speech because he favors “liberal and radical” causes (“Activists urge U to revoke Condoleezza Rice invitation,” March 28). Aren’t our colleges and public universities supposed to teach our children how to think, not what to think? And how are they to do that when speech they don’t agree with is denied?
Gail Mathews, Apple Valley
Issues at Northwestern and Gustavus Adolphus
The National Labor Relations Board gave the green light this week for Northwestern University football players to unionize, and a March 27 commentary (“The state of black players is the true March Madness”) raised concern over the graduation gap between white and black basketball players. Has society lost its way in regard to college athletics? The vast majority of student-athletes do not go on to the professional ranks. It is true that the NCAA and colleges do rake in an obscene amount of money from a few athletics, football and basketball being the primary drivers.
The questions that need addressing ought to be: Why are colleges like Dayton, Duke, Harvard, Kansas, Villanova and Xavier capable of graduating all basketball players, while others fail to crack 50 percent? What other factors are contributing to the achievement gap, specifically with basketball players? When do we start holding student-athletes accountable for poor performance in the classroom?
Chris Lund, Hamburg
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I understand where the Northwestern football players are coming from with their request to unionize. However, there could be a significant downside to becoming “employees” of the university. As such, their scholarships could be considered income and taxed accordingly. I’m sure Northwestern’s tuition is somewhat north of $30,000 per year, with board and room at least $4,000 per year. Taxes would have to be withheld from this amount, and at year’s end, the athlete would need to file a tax return and pay the tax. If this becomes reality, would academic scholarships also become taxable income? Where does this all play out?
Chuck Koegl, Brooklyn Park
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I am not a Nordic skier. I simply am not made of the mettle it takes to be one. I spent my college years alongside members of the Gustavus Adolphus Nordic ski team, and while I questioned their sanity often, I never questioned what an amazing group of student-athletes they were. These individuals trained year-round, multiple hours each day, in any conditions Minnesota could throw at them. They did it quietly, frequently on their own, knowing that they would never compete in front of packed stadiums.
On Wednesday evening, their sport, their aspirations and, for many, the reason they chose this school were just as quietly taken away from them. The Gustavus administration terminated the Nordic ski program. The students were told the decision was not based on money, but a “reallocation of resources and support.” No further transparency was offered.
These students have the highest grade-point averages of any sport, and the financial burden to the institution is a trivial part of its overall balance sheet. This totalitarian decision, made without student representation, is indicative of institutional dissolution of checks and balances.
Please make your voice heard, and help me help these incredible people realize their athletic dreams.
Nick Ross, Minneapolis
What are the motives behind Cargill decision?
Cargill is shipping 900 U.S. jobs to India (“Cargill to outsource its tech services,” March 27). How is this possible? The United States grants work visas to tech workers from India, under the pretense that there is a shortage of U.S. tech workers. This takes jobs from qualified Americans, but worse, it allows the foreign workers to learn these same jobs that eventually will go home to India with the worker.
I wonder how much a company with Cargill’s revenues needs the few millions saved with outsourcing. Cargill doesn’t even have to satisfy shareholders. I can only attribute its actions to greed.
Kathleen Runchey, Minneapolis
Something in return for those higher rates
The March 27 Readers Write page once again carried a dire warning letter about the tax burden our state places on its citizens and how Minnesota ranks 47th in terms of state business tax climate. We’ve been hearing that for at least 50 years — the length of my cognizance of the matter. Year after year, decade after decade, the mantra continues. Even the famous Time magazine cover story of Aug. 13, 1973, trumpeting Minnesota as a “state that works,” cautioned about our high tax rates. Nevertheless, as noted in Minnesota 2020 on Oct. 13, 2013, “During the thirty years that followed the 1973 Time article … the state’s job, GDP and per capita personal income growth all outpaced the national average.” There’s a good reason for this.
Higher tax rates are indicative of better public infrastructure. This is a boon to the state and business on a variety of levels. Minnesota is, and always has been, a “giver” rather than a “taker” in the distribution of federal tax dollars. It means we’re successful and have to help support states with lower tax rates (where businesses are not flocking). I’m reminded by local schoolteachers who taught in a neighboring state (a low-tax state that allegedly has been stealing our businesses for years) before moving to Alexandria, Minn., that it was like moving into the future. And now we have added a new high school. While the city has always championed quality education, local real estate agents were loathe to show our old, crowded high school to prospective home buyers. Now the high school will be first on the list of places promoting our city as a great place to live and raise kids.
The new high school costs me an additional $3.50 per day in property taxes. I can’t think of a better use of that money.
Tom Obert, Alexandria, Minn.