Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pac-10 should accept fate, move on

As an avid football fan, I enjoy the “poor [enter opponent name here], poor [enter opponent name here]” chant at the end of a particularly good romping as much as the next guy (or gal). But before the college season starts, I’m already uttering the chant, but this time, I actually feel bad for the other team.

Poor Colorado. Poor Colorado. Poor Colorado, you’re getting screwed!

When it looked like the Big 12 was completely lost to the history books, Colorado quickly jumped at the opportunity to be a leader – and ensure they didn’t get left out – and joined the Pac-10 conference. Originally, the invite was issued to Colorado with the expectation that a number of other Big 12 schools would join. The Pac-10 was looking to expand with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech as well.

At the very last second, the Big 12 chancellor, desperate to keep his job, convinced the conference to stick together, even without Colorado and Nebraska, both of whom had already bailed. In an effort to balance out the new 11-team conference, the Pac-10 invited Utah, but it seems they are having some second thoughts…

The expansion may not help the Pac-10 out at all, which is why UCLA chancellor Chuck Young is pushing for the conference to block the expansion. The new teams don’t positively affect the geography or academic success of the conference. And neither team even brings any good rivalries to play. The “package deal” including most of the Big 12 south would have pushed the new Pac-16 into super hero status among college football conferences. But what will Colorado and Utah add?

Regardless, it is unfair to even consider – or promote, Mr. Young – excluding these soon-to-be Pac-10 schools. I was raised to believe that once you made a commitment, you stick to it, even if it isn’t ideal and isn’t what you had originally planned. Would you invite six friends over for dinner and then ask two not to come if they were the only ones who RSVPed? Especially if those friends chose to hang out with you instead of the four who didn’t come over? Pac-10: Colorado and Utah chose YOU. Do everyone the curtsey of choosing them back.

And if it doesn’t work out? Sorry, don’t try to break up a good conference next time! Or at least don’t count those chickens until it’s all said and done.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

College cost hurts graduates' economy

College is ridiculously expensive. In my four years at a major state university, tuition increased in the double digits each year, and for the few years since. Then, of course, the economy is hurting state-funded institutions because state funding is limited. And private schools aren’t doing any better – they have to deal with people no longer affording their higher tuition. Thus, tuition continues to rise.

Unfortunately, these ever-rising rates end up hurting the economy: Both the students who come out of school with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, many of whom can not find a decent job right now, and the parents, who are putting all their entire retirement savings into their child’s education.

Today, the U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings came out, and with it, the newest list of the “Great Schools, Great Prices.” I applaud all the schools who made it on the list. Somehow, they’ve figured out how to offer students all the need out of a university or college education and experience, without leaving students and parents on food stamps.

Also on the report is a list of “Least Debt,” meaning schools whose students graduate with the least amount of debt. Another honorable focus for American universities and colleges. All prospective students should consider these lists when applying for higher education. The colleges on the list have made their focus the student -- not just during their four years at the university but for post-graduate life. Seems they’ve rediscovered the American dream.

More colleges should put their emphasis on assisting students financially. Whether is means a “work study” or bartering system where students work so many hours a week on campus for reduced tuition, fees and living expenses, or it means keeping costs low, even if that means little or no raises on the faculty and staff or cutting a program or two.

As more young people enter the weak work force with massive piles of debt, I wonder why you don’t hear more outcry, more requests for action. And I say this while writing a student loan check for a sum that never seems to reduce…

Find U.S. News rankings at

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

With just a dash of multiculturalism

With English as the native language of the United States, it can be a bit frustrating to have to “press 1” to get the message in English. But the telephone example shows the ever-increasing problem that multiculturalism brings to the country.

The idealistic folks in America’s early years planned for the country to become a melting pot of cultures. Immigrants from across the world became U.S. citizens, blending all the cultures into one American culture. The assimilation helped strengthen the country as one.

Fast forward 200 years. The “American culture” seems to have a bit of an identity crises. Many U.S. immigrants come into the country with their own history, culture and set of standards, and even after years, they do not fold seamlessly into society. It seems some have not learned the value of “melting.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand how important ones heritage can be and how defining it is for some. I would never suggest people forget where they came from, speak only in English, even at home, or exchange empanadas for burgers. It is a great part of who we are. But more important than where you came from is where you’re going. When deciding to come to the U.S., or to stay in the U.S., you are committing a part of yourself to your country, and with that comes its culture. To be a part of the country, to really be in the country, that requires some adaptation. And to become truly unified, Americans needs to understand and embrace that. We are one.

One example of how multiculturalism divides us is the PC terms used to describe your fellow Americans. She is African-American. He is Asian-American. And them? They are Native American. But me? I’m an American – first and foremost. Where I came from is only a part of me. Americans should celebrate their current nationality above their country of origin. Why doesn’t she instead claim to be an American, of African decent?

I love to learn about new cultures and celebrate the diversity in the world. Go ahead, speak your native tongue at home and cook traditional homeland meals. We will all benefit from the wealth of knowledge and diversity the various cultures bring America, but it can also be a divisive factor.

Therefore, the melting pot should continue to be our goal. But without a dash of multiculturalism, the resulting concoction becomes stale. It begins to lack depth of flavor. Just a little of that secret ingredient becomes key to the amazing dish.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mosque could help improve U.S., Islamic relations

9/11 hit us all hard. As we’re approaching the ninth anniversary of the attacks, the event is back in the news. And people from both sides are not shy about chiming in on the hottest issue: A Muslim mosque near the site.

A New York City panel cleared the way for a mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero. Many oppose the outrageous plan as a “glorification of murder,” while others say it promotes religious tolerance and understanding.

I’m sorry, I have to go with the latters on this one.

Just to be clear, the mosque will not be placed at Ground Zero, but in fact a few blocks away from the former World Trade Towers site.

Is it just because the terrorists happened to be Islamic? If a Christian extremist (yes, Christian extremists kill too) had attacked us, would those in opposition to the mosque also insist that it is insensitive to build another Christian church within a few blocks of Ground Zero? I would guess most would support the Christian church.

I can understand how the mosque’s presence could hurt a few of folks directly related to the attacks. Sarah Palin is maybe one of the loudest in opposition to the mosque. She says the mosque will hinder the nation’s ability to heal, as she so eloquently posted via Twitter: “Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing.”

But, in fact, the opposite may be true. The mosque and cultural center will help heal the unknown victims of the attacks: the Muslim Americans, many of whom felt the need to hide away in their homes post-9/11. It’s they who have been under attack since Sept. 11, 2001. It shows the 1.5 million U.S. Muslims that the majority of the country understands the term “Muslim” is not synonymous with “terrorist,” and that we do in fact support them and their faith.

To me the initiative says that we understand those attacks were committed out of ignorance and religious intolerance, but the United States is above that. We support the free practice of religion. It is among our nation’s foundation, and it is something we will support and defend above all else.

I applaud Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York panel and all who can see that beyond all this is actually the chance for the country to continue to heal, learn and reach out. Congratulations.