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Letters to the Editor 11-09-2011

In response to higher education priorities:

Listening to the leaders of our country’s most innovative companies, one of their biggest concerns about investing in America is whether our workforce has the education necessary to power their growth. They’re finding it increasingly difficult to base all of their operations here because of the lack of specialized, high-education workers relative to China or India. This shortfall isn’t coincidental; it is the direct result of emerging economies making higher education a national priority. To compete in the 21st century, America must do the same.

But, even with tuition increasing by 15 percent at the University of South Florida, Republicans in Congress have proposed a plan that would contain the largest cuts to college grants in history. It could make 1.7 million students ineligible for Pell Grants. Every year, 61,000 fewer students would obtain a bachelor’s degree. In a century when our economic future will be defined by competition for new industries, the Congressional Republican plan would put us at a distinct disadvantage.

Instead, Congress should take action immediately to make college more affordable. Pell Grants should be protected from cuts and innovative ideas, like a plan to consolidate student loans for lower rates, should be implemented. Simple steps that make affording college even marginally easier will have a substantial long-term effect.

Thirty years from now, Americans will look back on this time in history. They could look across the Pacific with envy at a highly educated workforce that has monopolized high-growth industries of the future. Or they could look here at home with pride at a country that prioritized education and is home to the best jobs and most innovative companies. The stakes of our policy decisions have never been higher and Congress needs to hear that from students.

Bill Burton is the former White House deputy press secretary and a senior strategist at the political action committee Priorities USA.

In response to USF Tampa’s actions:

I have a love and passion for anything having to do with USF, but I cannot keep some of my recent disappointments of our administration quiet. I believe the administration is not acting in the best interest of the main campus.

As my child is getting close to college age, I am seeing more and more of her friends not only bypassing USF for the University of Florida and Florida State University, but also now for other schools like University of Central Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University.

Those schools are putting the student experience first, while USF is putting too much emphasis on regional campuses. The final straw is our administration allowing a school 90 miles away to join the same athletic conference as us.

The administration is failing us all. We as alumni and students need to start holding the administration accountable. Unless I see major changes to make the main campus better, such as more beds on campus, better activity areas and a true commitment to our sports programs, my annual donations will stop.

Yes we built new facilities, but we still have a ways to go. While I love Raymond James Stadium, the experience there is nowhere near the experience I have witnessed at on-campus stadiums. It’s time for all who agree with me to let our voices be heard.

Glenn Schultz is a USF alumnus.