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Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JUNE 19, 2013 5:00 AM

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Student-loan interest hike nears

Time is running out. Interest rates on Federal Direct Stafford Loans will double on July 1, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, if Congress does nothing.

In a nation that believes education should be the foundation of equal opportunity, it is imperative to keep the cost of college low. According to the Iowa College Aid Commission, the average debt for the class of 2012 at Iowa regent universities was $27,395; the average debt at private colleges was $29,632.  If interest rates are to rise, the already high amount of debt for Iowa’s college graduates is sure to rise as well.

Some lawmakers see interest on student loans as a moneymaking opportunity. However, just this year the government will make $51 billion from federal student loan borrowers. It should also be noted that today’s government interest rates are extremely low, and students deserve to benefit from these low rates.  

Iowa’s public universities accomplish world-class research, its private colleges contribute vital economic dollars to Iowa’s small communities, and its community colleges provide essential technical and vocational training. Education of its citizens can help ensure a bright future for Iowa.

I encourage the Senate, the House, and President Obama to work together now to prevent rates from doubling on July 1. While a long-term solution is ideal, a short-term freeze that keep rates at the present levels would prevent students from going deeper into debt. The already high cost of college burdens students, who are current and future consumers, workers, and homeowners. Congress needs to act to prevent students from being further burdened, and soon—time is running out.  

Carter Bell

Humor, worry, and art

It is with some humor and irony that I followed the events at the tail end of last week’s Arts Festival downtown. As one might recall, a security guard discovered a strange looking box of god-knows-what-with-a-wire-sticking-out placed in a bin near the streets where our artists and artistic heritage were being celebrated. Suspecting the worst, as I suppose we are all quick to do these days — damn you Jack Bauer — the bomb squad was called in, a robot bravely diffused the situation, Heckle and Jeckle were carted off for braying, and the object and its home were handily removed from the corner and placed safely off somewhere so as not to further offend.

As the news rounded its circuit and Ashley Hinson and Zach Tilly weighed in as to the state of our town’s preparedness to meet the enemy on our own doorstep, I worried. Of course we all sighed with relief. The strange object was no bomb. What was it then? We have now found out that it was an art piece placed in a collective public spot that had been sitting on the corner of Washington and Dubuque streets for nigh on 15 years. A little old, refangled newspaper bin given the name Strange Tractor. In fact, it was artwork for the Arts Festival. Maybe a little outside of the dictates of the organizers’ purview, but art. And it fulfilled one of the great functions of art, which is to make one think. To make one question. To make me worry a little.

So I say hooray, Strange Tractor. Authorities, please return it to its rightful and forgotten place. We should have an occasional provocation. We should let our art startle.

David Murray
Iowa City resident


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