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Three things not to forget

BY BENJAMIN EVANS | JUNE 04, 2012 6:30 AM

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All right, obviously, there are a few things we shouldn't forget going into summer — I know it's difficult because all I really want to do is sit back and enjoy a nice summer shandy or maybe a mojito: just forget about the world and all of its problems and deafening, corruptive politics. It would be beautiful to be the oyster for a while and sit in immortal, drunken bliss.

But a good slap in the face always wakes me up: Like the UI scholarship scandal (personally, I think it's a scandal, but apparently it's just business as usual), or Ken Mason's salary for being married to someone who has accomplished something, or the UI Foundation not willing to provide obviously public documents to the Des Moines Register.

You know these things because you are informed peoples — But I'm going to lay them out for you, maybe do a little bit of spoon feeding, and make sure they are not forgotten.

It may be summer, but the Board of Regents and UI are still ripping you off. According to the state Board of Regents Office, an average of 20 percent of all tuition paid in 2011 at UI went toward scholarships — both merit and need-based, from both residents and nonresidents.

This means that an average of 20 percent of your tuition could be nonexistent, or in other words, you would be paying an average of 20 percent less to go to college. And we're in a budget crisis. If you show me someone who doesn't find this infuriating, I can show you someone who didn't pay anything for his education.

But never mind that: Let's raise tuition by 8.5 percent for those paying their tuition in full, because that only makes sense — and we need to pay for Ken Mason's double salary.

Oh, yes. Don't forget that UI President Sally Mason's husband, Ken Mason, gets paid for being a biology lecturer and for fundraising, amounting to more than $100,000 a year. I mean, it's necessary though, right? Because that household needs supplementing, what with President Mason only getting paid $483,600 a year.

Ken Mason receives $54,175 each year as a presidential fundraiser, which pretty much means he gets paid for having to go to football games and looking entertained in the Presidential Box. That's got to be tough.

Another thing that's got to be tough is sitting at a table with the wives of the presidents of ISU and UNI — awkward that you are the only spouse of a regent university getting paid to do a job that's really more like a responsibility of a loving and supporting partner-in-life. I mean, what do you say at the next presidential luncheon?

Maybe you could break the ice by talking about how to successfully hold back documents that should be made public. The UI Foundation, the privately run fundraising group that pays the university around $72,000 yearly to make up for Ken Mason's phony position, will not give the Des Moines Register transcripts of email conversations among foundation members because they are too private. The Register also reported that it is pretty much being stonewalled by administration officials, who decline to comment or can't accommodate interviews.

Let's take a trip all the way back to February 2005, when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that regent-university fundraising foundations (like, you know, the UI Foundation) are in contract with the government and are therefore subject to the Iowa Freedom of Information Act.

That's when the jack comes out of the box and says, "You're screwed."

It's time to pack it in guys. You are making the students look bad, and you are ruining the reputation of my alma mater to be. First, the hidden tax on tuition for scholarships, then Ken Mason's bogus salary, now obviously conflicting with legislation that has been ruled on by the highest judicial body in the state. Tap out before this gets really ugly.

I'm sorry, guys, but it's time to put the beer down and get to work.


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