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The interview with MCC President Anne Kress was most enlightening ("Anne Kress and the Reinvention of MCC," News). From a taxpayer's viewpoint, it's a little different.
When the community was first presented with funding a community college with low tuition for low- and middle-income students, we all jumped on board. Kress's statement that they were going to create a program that could lead to transferring into a four-year program blew me away. I thought that was the purpose of our community college: an inexpensive two-year degree that could be transferred to any college when the student chose a career path that they had interest in, or a two-year program that they could use to get a living-wage job. Hopefully they would be encouraged to take evening or on-line courses to further their education while not incurring debt.
However, the last decade taxpayers have watch as they have been charged more and more taxes to pay for dormitories, athletic fields, a fitness center to rival any private club in the city, a student union with state-of-the-art food service and coffee bar.
What the taxpayer wanted was a community college with highly skilled instructors and professors. Above-average professors and teachers demand higher wages; this is where taxpayer money should have been spent. You can sit in a stripped-down classroom with your brown-bag lunch and listen to a lecture from someone with a doctorate from Harvard. That is what we envisioned.
Those in charge of the community college decided they wanted to compete with the biggies. The justification for these expenditures, they would tell us, is they wanted the student to have the full college experience. If the low- and middle-income parents could have afforded the full college experience, they would have sent their child to one.
Colleges have become businesses, big businesses; they now compete for the students. The administrators' egos want to be associated with first-rate, top colleges and try to make their campus a showplace instead of a learning place. They complain that the students coming from the city school district are not prepared, so the college needs additional funding to get them able to do college-entrance level. Meanwhile, they recruit students from out of county, out of state, and out of country for students. They encourage local students to borrow money for their classes.
Ask these local students who are working as waitress, clerks, and retail if they owe student debt for their community college education. Those dormitories and athletic fields must be paid for by somebody. Did students get their money's worth?
Get back on track. Have as your goal providing an education for a reasonable fee.
SUE CAVALIERI, ROCHESTER
Support is crucial for people with mental illness
In response to "Mental Illness: Roads to Wellness": It is clear through the personal stories shared that mental health recovery is just as possible as recovery from a physical illness.
The people who shared their unique experiences with mental illness all had one thing in common: supportive relationships. It seems that all too often there is a stigma around mental illness that causes those experiencing it to be misunderstood and often distanced from community connections and support. The truth is that one in four Americans has a diagnosable mental illness, and this reality affects us all.
Through the power of supportive friendships, Compeer Rochester serves as an additional community resource and a bridge to enhanced wellness and community integration for those with social and emotional barriers, including mental illness. While being diagnosed with a mental health issue can be upsetting, there is hope for recovery through understanding and connection.
It is encouraging to see articles like this that address some of the stereotypes around mental illness and celebrate the recovery process. It is now up to us as a community to make sure these ideas do not stay on the page but are communicated and acted upon for improved services and supports.
Kreutter is Engagement and Outreach Program Assistant at Compeer Rochester, Inc.
A season of white males for the RPO
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra brochure for next season has appeared. Perhaps with the motive to distract us from recognizing that every composer is male and there's scant participation of women and people who are other than white, the celebrated violinist Midori is pictured on both the front and back, plus several times on inside pages. The gesture is not likely to keep many potential ticket holders from spotting the uncomfortable truth.
MARTIN FASS, ROCHESTER