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Reader's View: UWS cuts disrespect students

The University of Wisconsin-Superior's mission statement claims it "fosters intellectual growth and career preparation within a liberal arts tradition that emphasizes individual attention, embodies respect for diverse cultures and multiple voices, and engages the community and region." The elimination of dozens of majors and minors in a non-transparent manner undermines this mission ("UWS suspends several programs," Nov. 1).

I treasure education. I am a first-generation college graduate. The claim that the decision was to "reduce confusion" for students who might get "overwhelmed" with too many offerings was condescending. My path through public K-12 education and then undergraduate and graduate school was filled with smart, effective, and empathetic teachers. They had administrative support to do their jobs well. They educated me. They advised me. I never felt overwhelmed by too many choices. The varieties of disciplines available were the means through which I reached my goals. I studied sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. I learned who I am as a thinker, worker, creator, citizen, and more.

As an anthropologist, I work in Ecuador. That nation funnels students into careers based on exam scores and national political agendas. My college-aged friends complain they cannot pursue education on their own terms. They are denied learning in fields of study they find compelling.

As a public, liberal arts university, UWS must offer students the breadth and depth of human knowledge. Deciding that first-generation (or any) students cannot handle such knowledge shows a lack of respect for student intelligence and faculty advising.

This lack of respect reminds me of the value of a decision I made recently to move out of Wisconsin. A political environment hostile to higher education does not support respect for diverse cultures and multiple voices. It fails to deliver on the promise of engaging the community and region.

David Syring

Duluth

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