Endorsing higher education

Maryland voters who care about public higher education have a clear choice in today’s race for governor. They should choose Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley over incumbent Gov. Robert Ehrlich if they want Maryland’s universities to be affordable for middle and working class families. Ehrlich has clearly shown his disdain for the University System of Maryland when his budget cuts forced 40 percent increases in in-state tuition. He even attempted to use the budget pie and public higher education’s slice of it as a pawn to bring slot machines to our state.

Ehrlich has slashed school construction funding by $176 million and continually attempts to claim credit for the university’s continued ascension as a premier public university. Those in the know, however, recognize that the progress is due to the university’s leadership, not Ehrlich’s. In contrast, O’Malley is committed to affordable public higher education for current college students and those who may choose to attend institutions in the university system, including the 865,000 students currently enrolled in Maryland’s K-12 schools.

Throughout this campaign season, Ehrlich has proposed no policy plans for public higher education. O’Malley, on the other hand, has a plan for keeping our universities affordable. Last January, he stood with state legislators in Annapolis to call for the passage of a tuition freeze. His advocacy, the Maryland General Assembly’s passage of the tuition freeze and Ehrlich’s eventual executive signature provided a brief respite for those students and parents who have been enduring outrageous tuition increases annually.

In one year, students and parents actually suffered a mid-year tuition increase on top of the initial tuition increase. In addition, O’Malley has proposed state consideration of a funding formula that would allow for efficient planning on the university system’s behalf as well as for Maryland families, who must plan ahead for their families’ higher education costs.

Investing in our students and keeping our best and brightest in Maryland is in our best interest. A study published in 2001 indicated that university system institutions accounted for billions of dollars in additional revenue to the state through the increased earnings of their graduates and the economic activity generated by out-of-state students and visitors.

If you want to keep our economy growing, keep public higher education within the reach of Maryland’s families and expand educational opportunities for all, we, student leaders of the university system, urge you to cast your vote for our state’s next “Education Governor” – Martin O’Malley.

Emma SimsonStudent Government Association PresidentUniversity of Maryland

Brian S. BaileyChairpersonUniversity System of Maryland Student Council

Shavonne ShorterStudent Body PresidentFrostburg State University

Laura MooreGraduate Student Government PresidentUniversity of Maryland

Devin EllisDirector of Academic AffairsUniversity System of Maryland Student Council

Israel has a right to exist

In his response to my letter Monday, Hicham Yaktin calls for the imposition of a one-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

It is unfortunate that Yaktin would deny the Palestinians their right to self-determination and control over their own collective destiny. It is equally unfortunate that Yaktin would see in Israel’s demise an “equitable” solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In the words of the late Israeli foreign minister, Abba Eban, Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish, democratic state is axiomatic and unreserved. It has been affirmed and reaffirmed by every legitimate forum of world opinion and by all governments and nations of conscience since the early 20th century. It is supported by the law of nations, by the inherent rights of independent peoples and by the Jewish people’s physical and spiritual connection to the Land of Israel for more than two millennia.

Greater minds than Yaktin’s and mine considered the matter of a single bi-national state well before the decision was made to partition the land in 1947. Then came the bloodshed that started with the Jerusalem pogroms of 1920 and continues to this day.

One need look no further than war-torn Lebanon and former Yugoslavia to see what happens when two nations are forced to share a contested land. It is indeed odd and perhaps troubling that a Lebanese national such as Yaktin would seek to impose the horrific reality of bloody civil war on his neighbors to the south.

Yaktin shrouds his true intentions with appealing references to “secularism” and “justice,” but the essence of his words is ugly indeed and it is identical in every way to the Iranian president’s vile calls for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”

Just as we Americans are entitled to live in our own country and just as Frenchmen are entitled to theirs, so too are Jews and Palestinians entitled to lands of their own. It is a terrible shame that Yaktin would deny both groups that for which they have so painfully yearned for so many years.

Avi MayerSeniorGovernment and politics and Jewish studies

Air your views:

The Diamondback welcomes your comments. Address your letters or guest columns to the Opinion Desk at opinion@dbk.umd.edu. All letters and guest columns must be signed. Include your full name, year, major and day- and night-time phone numbers. Please limit letters to 300 words. Please limit guest columns to between 600 and 800 words.

Submission of a letter or guest column constitutes an exclusive, worldwide, transferable license to The Diamondback of the copyright in the material in any media. The Diamondback retains the right to edit submissions for content and length.