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Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | APRIL 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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Ryan budget hurts college students

Rep. Paul Ryan wants to cut back Pell Grant funding. That would be horrible decision and would not allow a large number of people to attend college. I attend the University of Iowa social-work master’s degree program. As an undergraduate student, I used Pell Grants to fund my tuition — without this crucial funding, I would not have been able to attend school. Pell Grants allow minority students who would not be able to afford school, and Ryan demonstrates that he does not care about minority students.

As the rate of tuition continues to increase every year, students aren’t able to afford tuition, and more and more people choose to work instead of attend school. With Ryan’s proposal, we may have more people opting to work instead of attending college.

As college students, we need to fight Ryan’s proposal to cut Pell Grants by writing our congressional representatives. We can also write our state senators and tell them how we benefited from Pell Grants. Without a Pell Grant, my son who is now a senior in high school would not be able to attend the University of Dubuque next year. Rep. Ryan, there are many things we can do to balance the budget (such as cutting your salary), but reducing the amount of money that goes into federal Pell Grants is not the answer.

Sabrena Shields

Hawk Alerts and sexual assaults

The issue of sexual assault has been a major topic of debate in recent months. After the sexual assault made public on April 16, there have been 12 sexual assaults this school year. While this has been a terrible reminder of how unsafe college campuses can be, it has also led to an important discussion on how we can combat sexual assault.

While the timely warning emails have improved, I believe we need to revisit the idea of sending a Hawk Alert in the event of a sexual assault. Previously, Hawk Alerts have served as an emergency-communication system to primarily report severe weather or robberies, but we could warn students about sexual assaults as well. In a similar way, a Hawk Alert about an armed robbery does not eliminate harm, but it does make students aware that a dangerous individual could be on campus.

The key to using the Hawk-Alert system would be to quickly alert students in situations in which others could be immediately at risk. For example, if a student learned that a sexual assault had taken place within a taxi earlier in the evening, the student could take precautions and choose a different form of transportation. Obviously, in situations in which authorities learn about the assault much later, the Hawk Alert would be less effective.

Receiving a Hawk Alert in addition to an email also sends a different message to students — these assaults are emergencies and they should be treated as such. Emails can easily be dismissed, but a phone call makes students aware of the situation. Students need to realize that sexual assaults on campus are much more common that we would like to think, and something needs to change. I hope that by raising awareness about this issue, we can all put a stop to sexual assaults on campus.

Mica Russell

Re: Iowa should adopt popular-vote plan

If you would take the time to study a little history of the founding era, you might not publish such inane drivel. The Electoral College was an outgrowth of the battle between the big states and the small states, just as our bicameral legislature is, which was determined by the Connecticut (or Great) Compromise of 1787. The electors in each state are determined by the total number of senators and representatives, thus the smallest number of electors a state can have is three, because a state will have a minimum of two senators and one representative. It maximizes the influence of small states in presidential elections. Your statement that the proposed compact will force presidential candidates to run up popular vote tallies in every state is absolutely ridiculous. That is actually what is happening with our current system and is why small states get attention. Why do you think New York is for the compact?

If we were to follow your line of reasoning, we would either have to abolish the U.S. Senate or amend its rules so it has representation based on population rather than state.

We have a republic, not a democracy. The founders were justifiably concerned that a direct democracy would lead to mob rule. As imperfect as our system is, it’s the best there has ever been and there is much wisdom in putting a buffer between the instant, “flavor of the minute” will of the people and what actually becomes law.

Alvin Cranston


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