PFW's ineptitude costs school students
The Journal Gazette has printed several articles about the current financial situation of Purdue Fort Wayne. Each time, I get annoyed because of my awareness of the personal situations of current and potential PFW students. At least three bright and enthusiastic students I know have expressed their disappointment in the way they are treated by the administration of PFW.
One potential student has two associate degrees from Ivy Tech with a 4.0 grade point average and would like to pursue a bachelor's degree at PFW so they can move up in their current job in Fort Wayne. This potential student has been unable to get anyone to assist them with what should be a minor issue in obtaining federal student aid. This is money that could come to PFW, improving the university's revenue stream and improving the student's future.
This person stated that with one exception, staff at PFW have been dismissive and even rude when questions have been asked regarding how to fill out paperwork for financial aid eligibility.
The other students have unique but similar issues and cannot get the assistance they need to navigate the financial aid system. They are referred from one administrative person to another with no one following through or taking an interest in helping individual students.
I know that three students would not have a large impact on the overall revenue of PFW. However, if I as a person not involved in the academic world know three people, it is obvious that many more potential students are essentially being turned away from PFW through the lack of assistance in navigating the financial aid system.
Perhaps one of the highly paid administrators listed in the Jan. 10 Journal Gazette article (“Revenue shortfall magnifies PFW gap”) can address the issue of customer service quality by PFW administration.
Conversion therapy blot on state's efforts
Indiana Senate Bill 32, authored by Sen. J.D. Ford, should unite every Hoosier. This bill will prohibit the so-called conversion therapy that is a stain on Indiana's reputation in LGBTQ rights.
The Senate will likely hear testimony from survivors of this traumatic practice. They may also hear evidence from psychologists and pediatricians about its inefficacy. I encourage our legislators and journalists to also consider the voices of LGBTQ youth.
As a middle school teacher, I have seen many LGBTQ students pass through my classroom over the years. I've watched them happily and healthily create communities wherever they go. When allowed the freedom to express their identity, they are fully capable of defining themselves without any older generation's preconceptions.
My students, past and present, can speak for themselves if we bother to ask. They are more educated on LGBTQ issues than many adults, and they are more cognizant of experiences other than their own, too. Indiana's government should make a point of listening to those whom the law would affect.
What my students too often lack is recognition, acceptance and a feeling of safety coming from the adults in their lives. The state of Indiana needs to send a message to our LGBTQ youth that they are welcome. We need them to consider building a future here and not taking their resilience, creativity and compassion elsewhere, like so many generations of queer people before them.
One way to send this message of acceptance is to end the abusive practice we euphemistically call conversion therapy. A better way is to invite them into the conversation as we do so.
Woefully unprepared for plague of ages
In the cinematic classic, “The Seventh Seal,” we see the plague of the Black Death represented as an ongoing game of chess between the lead character, a virtuous knight just returned from a long Mideast crusade, and the stalking plague character. The game is the knight's ploy to hold off death but perfectly models the game we play today against the coronavirus.
For every brilliant move we make with advanced vaccine technology, COVID-19 has already laid out the mutation that awaits a weak spot in our defenses: from the Trump administration's poor coordination of our resources to our corporate leaders' slow response with even Bill Gates, who warned us about viruses in 2015, lamenting we're not doing enough to stop it.
As misshapen heroes return from the Mideast today, they represent the misplaced national defense spending protecting the very thing that is destroying us, fossil fuels, instead of providing a universal health care system. Yet our political leaders from both major parties, like Rep. Jim Banks and President Joe Biden, will not fund an improved Medicare for all.
“When the lamb had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven,” which is the moral bankruptcy of our nation leaving a void in our leader's conscience, rendering them unable to visualize a unified public health service during the worst crisis of our time.
Unsubstantiated views unworthy of airing
On the day a violent mob stormed the nation's Capitol, Fort Wayne City Councilman Jason Arp addressed a crowd assembled in front of the Allen County Courthouse. As reported in The Journal Gazette, he made a number of inflammatory and highly objectionable statements. He asserted that the election had been stolen and scoffed at the notion that the president's allegations of election fraud were “false claims.”
It gets worse. He said “conservative Americans must teach their kids right from wrong,” as though this is the responsibility of conservatives alone. Then he accused public schools of promoting socialism. Finally, he dropped this bombshell: “The schools have turned the kids into little communists.”
My two daughters went through Fort Wayne Community Schools, and I can assure Arp they have never uttered one word that would suggest they have any sympathy with or agreement with communism.
All this from the man who decided we should have a day every year to celebrate Anthony Wayne, the general whose murderous, scorched-earth tactics drove the Miami Indians from this area. When I objected personally, he said Wayne “was following orders.” I said, so was Lt. William Calley at My Lai. He'd never heard of the atrocities committed in Vietnam.
I actually kind of like Arp as a person. He's congenial and friendly enough. But his ideas, most of which are unsubstantiated, discredited or distorted, should be tossed in a dust bin where they belong.
Vision of patriotism deserves deeper look
Since Jan. 6, I've been struggling with my vision of patriotism. I was shocked when rioters carried American flags into our Capitol along with their Confederate and Trump flags. My image of the American flag as a symbol of patriotism was tarnished when it was carried alongside the other two.
I have three thoughts for our next generation of Americans:
1) Choose your heroes wisely. If you find yourself in a position where you must commit criminal acts to support/defend them, maybe you're following the wrong leaders.
2) The Black Lives Matter protests last summer were not the same as the attack on our Capitol. In both situations, I condemned criminal behavior that resulted in property damage. Criminal behavior is criminal behavior. Injuring and killing others, however, takes criminal behavior to another level.
3) Let's think carefully about what it will mean to “make America great again.” Patriotism is not what we saw on Jan. 6.