Letters to the Editor

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Graduate Student Community Needs to Wakeup
We graduate students tend to stick to ourselves. We come to UC Irvine to do research and this consumes our time. With a passion, we throw ourselves into our labs and studies, tirelessly writing articles in the hopes of publications and acclaim. We pursue the latest findings and often limit our readings to the latest journal volumes, shunning the bestseller fiction of our undergrad days.
However, this pursuit of knowledge has a downside. We isolate ourselves and our worlds shrink. We no longer engage in community events or participate in the broader university community.
While we have been avidly chasing a higher degree during the past few years, circumstances have been changing. The academic job market is shrinking and the number of jobs posted this year is woefully shy of the number of grads on the market. Our economy is in a recession. Funding is in jeopardy and departmental growth is slowing. And it doesn’t look like it’s getting better any time soon.
I am sure most of you have heard whispers that have grown to rumbles about the state budget crises and graduate funding. While the 2008-09 academic year has proven to be financially challenging for many of us, next year looks to be even worse. The buzz on the street is that student fees will increase, perhaps even as much as 14 percent; a jump unprecedented in the history of the UC system. Undergrads have loudly opposed a fee increase, while we graduate students have been rather apathetic. Maybe we have paid little attention to the issue because most of our departments pay our fees, but we can no longer afford to be silent.
An increase in fees of this size will negatively impact graduate education on our campus. The more money our departments pay in fees, the less there is to go around for stipends and growth, not to mention travel and supplies. Colloquia budgets, copy budgets, even phone lines will disappear as the pool of money for graduate education becomes increasingly strained.
The state budget crisis makes an increase in the graduate block unlikely next year. The capping and reducing of undergraduate enrollment means there will be no increase in teaching assistant lines that many graduate students rely on. While graduate student support has been a UC system-wide priority, this allocation is now threatened.
In addition to the fee increase, our rents are sure to jump next year as the university tries to recover from the nearly $1 million loss in housing revenues experienced this past year. The current state budget shortage means that there is less campus money to support auxiliary services such as housing. The alternative, off-campus housing is not decreasing in price nor increasing in availability as we compete with undergrads and displaced homeowners who are victims of the foreclosure disaster. More money will have to come from the users of the services, which means higher rent. Graduate student healthcare coverage under the Graduate Student Health Insurance Program (GSHIP) plan will also be reduced and out-of-pocket co-pays will increase next year. We here at UCI have enjoyed a Cadillac health plan for many years with the GSHIP committee working hard to maintain as much as possible of our current coverage as we look for ways to reduce the cost per student while preserving care.
Increased rents, reduced health coverage, increased insurance co-pays, reduced funding; none of these were issues when I came as a new graduate student to this university. However, the reality is that all of that is in jeopardy if we don’t stand up and make our voices heard. The state legislature must understand the importance of education in general and specifically graduate education. UCI administration must be convinced to hold the line on the graduate block. New solutions are needed and creative and innovative ideas for funding should be sought.
It is time for graduate students to get involved. Talk to your fellow students, seek out your Associated Graduate Student (AGS) representatives and attend AGS council meetings, speak to your advisors and department chairs and write letters to your representatives both locally and in Sacramento. We can no longer remain quiet and separate. There is strength in numbers and with the election of our new president there has never been a better time to become engaged in the decisions that will impact the rest of our academic careers.
Please contact me to find out more about how you can help. We need to hear from you!

Carrie Carmody
President of the Associated Graduate Students
president@ags.uci.edu.

Christian Scientist Shares Concern for Prayer Healing
I read your editorial, “Faith Over Medicine: Praying for a Cure,” in the Feb. 2 New University with interest and concern. It distressed me to read that some parents seem to put religious dogma ahead of the welfare of their children. As a parent who is also a Christian Scientist, I consider the health and safety of my children to be paramount. There is no other consideration.
Your article does highlight a number of points upon which I would agree: A child’s safety and well-being should always be the only priority and should never take a back seat to dogma or religious rights. The death of a child is never acceptable and parents who fail to conscientiously care for their children should be held accountable by the laws of the land.
However, there are statements referencing Christian Science that I take issue with and these statements should be corrected. Christian Science is not faith healing as alluded to in the article. Nor is it a form of faith healing. There is simply no connection between the two. Christian Scientists, like members of society, don’t expect to be judged simply by how their religion is practiced but, instead, how well it is practiced. Results really do matter. The Christian Science Church would never and will never intentionally advocate for laws that accommodate reckless behavior or that could be used as a shield against prosecution.
Donald W. Ingwerson
Christian Science Committee on Publication for Southern California

Editor’s note: Last week’s editorial incorrectly stated that Christian Scientists and Scientologists use faith healing. This was an incorrect statement and we regret the error.

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