As a former student who arrived at the UR with expectations of a liberal arts education and a commitment to students, I was greatly disappointed when the first act I witnessed was the inauguration of a president whose sole qualification was in bankruptcy law.
The commitment to education I once saw quickly evaporated into a commitment to the dollar. Programs were cut, students were left out to dry and financial aid was cut significantly every year.
While it is obvious that the university is above all else a business, it was nonetheless disappointing to see the efforts of an excellent faculty and student base wither away in the name of the Renaissance Plan and UR President Thomas Jackson?s vision of a wealthier student base.
Sour grapes aside, I adjusted to the new direction the school would take with or without me, and completed my four-year term at the institution.
I, as well as a number of my peers, survived the disintegration of aid through loans and on-campus employment.
Others were not so lucky, as some of the brightest students I had the pleasure of associating with saw their programs dis-missed or stagnated and their economic status ignored, forcing them to transfer.
None of this could prepare me for the blatantly discriminating and inflammatory nature of the words from the university?s director of the Office of Financial Aid.
I lack the space in this letter to fully describe the offense that follows her words, from the Dec. 7 CT article ?UR on target for Renaissance goal.?
?It generally goes hand in hand,? said Andrea Leithner, director of the Office of Financial Aid. ?Students who are of higher quality tend to not have as much need.?
I feel a pause is called for, to allow the true undertones of those words to sink in to the reader. You could just as easily say, with no loss of meaning, ?Poor people cannot be distinguished enough to attend our school,? ?Poor people are not worthy of our education? or ?Poor people are not smart enough for our assistance.?
I truly hope that Leithner has trouble sleeping at night as these comments weigh on her conscience. Unfortunately, I am not nave enough to believe for a second that she does. Her words signify no less than an indoctrination of the prevailing attitude that we, as students, always sensed. Somewhere between former UR President Dennis O?Brien and Jackson, economic elitism was codified and actual education was deemed a distant second.
I suggest that Jackson stop by Rush Rhees, pick up a book or two and see what this education thing is all about. Until then, I can at least take solace from Leithner?s remarks.
As they do not desire the money of poor students, they also have no need of alumni donations from me or my peers. Apparently, those students who enrolled before the magical Renaissance are neither high caliber nor financially worthy. I can only assume that our donations, in this case, are not even desired.
? Jeff CongdonClass of 1998
New York alumni an embarrassment
I am writing to try to express my recent embarrassment at being a UR alumni.
I recently attended the Alumni Holiday Reception in New York City. When I received the invitation, I was looking forward to going to my first alumni event.
I always respected and admired [Vice President and University] Dean of Students Paul Burgett and was eager to hear him speak. However, as soon as Burgett began, my enthusiasm began to dwindle.
The reason for my dismay was the unbelievable chatter that was overpowering Burgett?s voice ? and all who know Burgett know that he has a powerful speaking voice. As Burgett continued, the din did not diminish one bit.
Even after various attendees attempted to quiet the crowd numerous times, the chatter continued. Even after Burgett began to use the microphone because of the noise, the chatter continued. Even after Burgett attempted to quiet the room for the singing of the Genesee, the chatter continued.
I have never been a witness to such an outrageous lack of respect for others, but especially for our respected and esteemed dean.
In conclusion, I would like to offer a suggestion for the curriculum. The College of Arts and Sciences should institute mandatory etiquette classes prior to students being eligible for graduation.
I, for one, have never been in the presence of a group more in need of manners than the New York area alumni.
? Joann FarrellClass of 1996