To the editor:
RE: “We wasted a ton of money on Bill Nye”
I have some issues with your piece about Bill Nye in Friday’s Piolog. Let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see Nye at our school last weekend, (particularly when the ticket was free). I was overjoyed during his presentation to hear him speak positively about the liberal arts education, and its emphasis on academic breadth as well as depth, because, as Nye said, “That’s why you’re all here.” I have never been passionate about the math ans science portion of my education, although I recognize its importance; Bill Nye is the first and only scientist I have encountered who spoke about the importance of the arts AS WELL AS the sciences. As an English/Hispanic Studies double major and possible Gender Studies minor, it was refreshing and wonderful to hear talk of balance in education, and about the necessity of both the humanities and sciences in the life of every student, particularly when all my relatives think I’m a nutter for pursuing a career in teaching. Hearing Bill Nye heartened me, and his speech made a tremendous difference to me. Everyone I know who also attended had a similar experience.
This event was something extraordinary and unique to our generation because we were no longer hearing about the basics of astronomy and biology from Bill Nye as children, we were learning about the importance of our roles as citizens and voters for the future of science and exploration in American society. I think that this message is a valuable one, and reaffirms our ideas of what we can be capable of not only as individuals, but as the next generation of adults in our society.
That being said, I do take issue with the cost it took to get Nye to our campus. I am always rather indignant about the fact that my school is willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to create events like this, but refuses to create more academic scholarships for hardworking students to earn and use toward their tuition. I am a first generation college student, and to my surprise I made the Dean’s List last year for both academic terms. What does this mean for me? No monetary benefits for one, which would be fine if I weren’t struggling to come up with the funds for tuition each semester. I am consistently shocked to learn that very few students on this campus know how much they are paying for tuition each year. Perhaps this is because they are not the ones paying for it, their parents or relatives usually are.
The article about Bill Nye in the Piolog was silly for several reasons, but the one that really grinds my gears is the repeated idea that “we sacrificed the equivalent of one student’s year of tuition on the altar of Nye.” This simply is not true. I know this because I spend my summers number-crunching, working, applying for scholarships, and calculating what the leftover cost of my schooling is so that I can sell my soul to the nicest moneylender out there. We paid $40,000 to get Bill Nye to our campus, but the cost of tuition is more like $48,000. And it goes up $2,000 each year with no explanation. Eight grand is a LOT of money to just gloss over in an article to prove a point. Please do not think that I am overlooking the hefty cost of the Nye event, because I do disagree with that enormity of that number. But you cannot overlook the fact that $40,000 is far less than what LC students must pay in order to attend this school. And the cost shoots up again for on-campus living and meal plans, which are non-optional for first and second year students. With this cost included, the total fee is about $59,000 and increasing each year. As it is, I need to procure $7,000 sometime before December just to balance my account for next term. Just next term! So you can imagine my frustration when I encounter folks here who ask me blithely, “Wait, is the tuition here expensive?” or when Piolog articles complain stubbornly about money without getting all their money facts straight. It leads me to believe that the writer is not only unaware of the Lewis and Clark tuition, but that they are also not the one responsible for earning their tuition, in which case, you have no right to complain about this school’s frivolousness with money. You don’t even know the numbers.
We do stand together on some things; we paid way too much for Bill Nye and student costs are too high. But in the midst of a tumultuous term and some personal emotional turmoil, it was extremely gratifying to hear that speech: a speech from a childhood hero describing how he believes in people like me, people who are pursuing an expensive but diversified education because it means making an investment in themselves. I wouldn’t be working so hard each year just to be here if LC wasn’t my dream school, or if I didn’t think it was absolutely worth it. I’m here because of events like Bill Nye, and because I’m studying exactly what I want to be studying, and the opportunities I’m afforded here are incredible. Every once in a while, a Bill Nye speech becomes necessary to keep the momentum going.
Thank you for listening,