Letter from a Dormitory Cell

Karl Noyes

Dear Gov. Pawlenty:

While contemplating Henry Miller here in my dormitory cell, I was struck by the severity of your proposed cut to the University. Seldom do I pause from the work that is my education. But since I feel that you are a man of a genuine amiable nature, I have set forth to try and defend the institution that has tried to satiate my need for knowledge.

Accuse me of being a nobody. Accuse me of being a freshman. Because I am.

However, my letter means more because I’m not a university president, a Democrat or Republican, but because I am a student as you once were. I am, like thousands of others in Minnesota, hoping you do not make a mistake you could later regret.

I’ve talked with University President Robert Bruininks. I’ve seen your speeches and read the papers. Yet, I refuse to accuse you of hypocrisy by calling for sacrifice but allowing your suburban constituency to suffer the least. I will not remind you that 55 percent of the people in this state voted against you, thus dwarfing any claims you might make of a mandate. Neither will I recollect that you preach the pressure of budget constraints yet tried to provide your chief of staff with a Toyota Highlander. I will not suggest you are shifting the blame to Bruininks by proposing a 15 percent tuition increase cap. Is it worth debilitating the most recognized educational institution in the state of Minnesota for the sake of keeping an unrealistic campaign promise? You should be applauded for some of your past efforts to handle this budget situation. However, an alternative to cutting the University can and must be found.

I know debt all too well. The predatory wolves have been circling my parents’ land for the last decade. The University cuts’ severity could force poorer students outside the realm of higher education. Grants and scholarships are too few and meager to suggest they will offset the costs of attending college. The cuts could even force students who otherwise wouldn’t need a loan to apply for one. The statement “Pawlenty the Piper is leading the students to drown in a sea of debt” is harsh. But is it true?

The University cannot afford the high-pressure lobbyists currently yapping in your ear. Yet, the University’s voice must be heard. A student coalition will be at the State Capitol on March 6. I hope you will be there to address their concerns and dialogue. Your proposed budget cuts are so large as to debilitate the successful functioning of the University.

Two-thirds of the state’s doctors, veterinarians, and dentists graduate from the University. The research conducted at the University is significant to Minnesota’s industries. The University largely contributes to the notion that Minnesota is the most livable state in the union. Most important, the University is an investment in Minnesota’s economic future as well as the students’ futures.

Yours for the cause of education and one of 60,000 students,

Karl Noyes

Karl Noyes serves on The Minnesota Daily’s editorial board.

He welcomes comments at [email protected]

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