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Indeed a disgrace

In his Dec. 1 article, "Dangling the carrot of higher ed," Michael de Yoanna cites Eugene Tobin's research on low-income students' admission to elite colleges and universities. It is indeed a disgrace that, as Mr. de Yoanna states, "too few talented students are getting into the nation's best universities and colleges" -- much less that they are thwarted because of their financial status. There are two root issues here as I see it: the priorities of the federal government and the individual commitment of the institution.

The article states that 14 percent of CU students are low-income as determined by their federal Pell grant eligibility -- typically a family of four with one in college and an annual income under $30,000. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average 2004 income in Colorado was slightly above $51,000. For this reason and a variety of others having to do with Pell methodology and restrictions on eligibility, fewer students have actually qualified for Pell grants.

These complexities notwithstanding, at Colorado College 11.6 percent of our 1,980 students are Pell grant recipients, with average family incomes of $26,381. The federal government provides these same students with an average of $7,818 in aid (mostly in the form of student loans and work-study opportunities) -- 30 percent less than what Colorado College provides these students from its own coffers.

Tobin's research indicates that only 11 percent of students (in his sampling) at the nation's most selective colleges and universities are from low-income families. In contrast, here at Colorado College (one of those selective institutions) we are committed to making college affordable for low-income students. To begin with, Colorado College accepts applicants on the basis of their academic record and abilities, without regard to their ability to pay. Once accepted, if students demonstrate deep financial need, we find a way to meet it -- usually through a combination of grants, loans and work-study. In fact, more than a quarter of our students come from families with incomes under $50,000 a year.

An institution can commit its own resources -- as we have done -- to making college affordable for low-income students. This is an expensive option, and it is the right thing to do.

-- Richard F. Celeste


Colorado College

Taking the lead

Your Dec. 8 story, "Warriors, rescuers & spooks: The U.S. military's growing involvement in domestic affairs," was disappointing and a disservice to your readers. Partially because the reporter did an inadequate job of framing the important debate on the use of active-duty forces for catastrophic events, but mostly because there are major portions of the story which are improperly explained or inaccurate.

At NORTHCOM, we take great pride and responsibility in executing our two primary missions: defending the homeland and providing defense support to civil authorities. Each was confused by your reporter in how we plan and execute these missions.

Your reporter accuses us of having plans where "the military seizes control over civil authorities during a major disaster." This is completely inaccurate. While the Department of Defense has a long history of supporting civil authorities in the wake of catastrophic events, all defense support is provided at the direction of the president or secretary of defense in accordance with the National Response Plan. There are no plans to "seize" control over civil authorities during major disasters.

However, we are planning -- as our experience with Hurricane Katrina taught us -- for when the consequences of a disaster are so comprehensive that it may be appropriate for the president to consider giving the Defense Department the lead for at least part of the recovery.

Even as we act to support civil authorities in responding to disasters, we never lose focus on our primary mission of homeland defense. While this mission does require us to have awareness of the desires and intent of our enemies both here and abroad, we do not collect intelligence on citizens of this country -- as the story asserts -- and we execute intelligence analysis in compliance with all existing laws.

Concerning the incomprehensible quote, "There isn't that much terrorist activity to go around," all citizens of this nation must remember the indiscriminate nature of our adversaries. We are in a long war against an enemy driven by a hateful ideology, and we can never forget each of us has a role to play in defeating them.

-- Michael B. Perini

Director of public affairs

U.S. Northern Command

Guarding the guards

Bravo and kudos to Terje Langeland for bringing to the forefront in "Warriors, rescuers & spooks" this administration's hyperactive effort to foist upon us the American police state, complete with the necessary added effects of authoritarian intimidation and compliant obedience.

As the quote by Roman poet Juvenal goes, who, indeed, will guard the guards? How absurdly amusing is this entire phony war on terrorism that 9/11 brought to full force on the American psyche. Acting not only as the "Pearl Harbor" trigger for, as Dick Cheney put it, "a war that would not end in our lifetimes" and the new Project for a New American Century (PNAC) doctrine of pre-emptive U.S. military expansion, but additionally as the catalyst for the draconian Patriot Act, meant only to intimidate any dissenting voices opposing or questioning this premeditated policy of pre-emptive war.

For what terrorist would advertise, plan and conspire to carry out "real" terrorist acts against the U.S. and more incredulously, within the U.S., using any kind of technology that the U.S. Intelligence Apparatus can surveil, intercept and analyze three ways to Sunday? A completely retarded one, or one that is controlled by the USIA and purposefully attracting attention to create the illusion of a threat, while the criminal controllers participate in crimes against Americans.

The discussion of martial law was only missing one final analysis of what this means should it come to being reality, and that is this: It is the mark of a dictatorship to rely on military force over domestic citizenry. And only a dictator would propose it. And only a dictator consistently makes his grandiose and delusional statements from the military bases he sees as safe haven.

The only protection we citizens have to use against clandestine spying by our military is the free press. Because none of us singularly have the resources to watch the watchers. So to the Indy I say thanks for bringing this to press, and keep it coming!

-- Jim Berry

Colorado Springs

Can't hold a candle

When is John Hazlehurst going to learn that tourism is extremely valuable to almost every business in the Springs? Dollar-wise, it is up there with military and high tech.

The CEO of the Colorado Convention and Visitors Bureau, Terry Sullivan, is a dynamic person who is recognized statewide for his talents. He has recruited staff that is phenomenal in their knowledge and responsiveness to the public. In the more than six years I have volunteered there, I have never seen one take a coffee break. I am continually amazed at how well they individually do their jobs but also at the respect they show for each other. It is this atmosphere that attracts and keeps many volunteers, some as long as 10, 15 and yes, one for 20 years.

This summer I traveled through 14 states and stopped at their visitor centers. They just couldn't hold a candle to ours. Visitors here, whether on the phone or in person, are treated with the utmost attention and made to feel welcome. Quite a few local people come to us for information, too.

-- Colleen Johnson

Colorado Springs

Tell us why

I am a junior at Palmer High School. This is in regard to the two history teachers placed on administrative leave:

Where are my teachers? Why are they sitting at home while their students fall further and further behind?

Early in the day on Nov. 30, history teachers Fran Lindau and Anton Schulzki were taken from their first-period classes by district security and then escorted off the premises without explanation. No one explained why to either's students.

I am one of Mrs. Lindau's students. My class had an essay due Dec. 2 on the Russian Revolution. However, we never finished the unit and were unable to get help with our questions.

Students have rallied behind their teachers; they are wearing "Free Lindau and Schulzki" signs and T-shirts. In the mornings, signs are plastered on lockers, but by the end of the day school personnel have ripped them all down.

We get strange looks and are reprimanded by teachers for not knowing what we are defending. We are defending our right to learn. Isn't that the purpose of the school system?

Mrs. Lindau taught both AP and IB classes, both of which have their exams this year. She has been gone for two weeks, putting her students behind in their curriculum. Doesn't the district know the people they are hurting are the students? My fellow classmates and I are being punished, but no one will tell us why.

I remember hearing about how there aren't enough teachers, and now I know why. Who wants to be a teacher when the district you work for cares more about politics than the students they are charged with educating?

I want to go to a school where I am allowed to learn about issues such as civil disobedience, not one where I have to put its doctrines into use. I am learning something right now, though. I am learning to stand up for what I believe in: my teachers.

-- Samantha Kelly

Colorado Springs

Truly bizarre

It was with a sense of Kafkaesque weirdness that I read the articles on page A5 of the Gazette the other day: "Christians: Irritation reaches a higher pitch" and "Churches cutting back on Christmas Day services."

In their incendiary diatribes against the "liberals" who choose to wish everyone a Happy Holiday, the right emphasizes the need to "keep Christ in Christmas" and at the center of our collective lives as Americans. At the same time, apparently, the bulk of the Christians in America are choosing to spend their Christmas at home, beneath that perennial pagan symbol -- the evergreen tree -- celebrating the patron saint of consumption with their family.

Merry Christmas, Christians, and enjoy your day off from church!

-- Clayton D. Bosler

Colorado Springs

Stop the insanity

To all the pastors, clergy and Focus on the Family: You should be ashamed of yourselves for teaching hatred. What you teach in church is hatred toward anyone who thinks differently than you. You will teach children to act out toward others with hate and intolerance if they don't think like they do. You are teaching children not to walk with God, but to act like God by being judgmental.

Please stop the insanity before it is too late. This is not what God and Jesus wanted. Reread your Bible and really put your heart and soul into learning what it says.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of God's children.

-- Donna Guerra


Eating falafel

I agree with Dec. 1 letter-writer Brian Beatty, and thank God for his cousin. Without him I'd no doubt be speaking Iraqi (or whatever language them damn Arabs speak), bowing to Saddam Hussein and his overwhelming firepower, and eating falafel. Course, I'd already have been speaking Vietnamese if we hadn't gone over there first, and I hate rice!

See, these wars are fought for dirty hippies to have the freedom to protest moral guys like Bush who have to start wars that kill 100,000 people (thanks a lot, hippies), and never for business interests. I wonder if any of the corporations that have made billions off this war will share any of the profits with Brian's cousin -- as the politicians continue to slash his veteran's benefits.

By the way, Brian, I have a really nice bridge in San Francisco, and I'm willing to sell it cheap. God bless America!

-- Michael J. Harris

Colorado Springs

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