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Editorial: Opinion roundup

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EDITOR’S NOTE—Today, the Daily Journal presents a

sampling of editorials from around the state and nation.

‌Ivy Tech’s greatest value: campus accessibility

(Fort Wayne) The Journal Gazette

Budget woes at Ivy Tech Community College threaten to close as many as a quarter of its sites, with about eight sites in northeast Indiana under scrutiny. As Ivy Tech trustees consider options, they should remember campus accessibility is the key for many students.

In Ivy Tech’s 2011-12 financial report, President Tom Snyder described the statewide college system’s financial position as strong and noted an 11 percent increase in state appropriations. In fact, state support for Ivy Tech has increased by 50 percent since 2005, but the college is facing a $68 million deficit, according to The Indianapolis Star.

Snyder points to inadequate per-student funding. Enrollment skyrocketed during the Great Recession, with Ivy Tech adding faculty, staff and facilities to meet the demand.

Ivy Tech has done some administrative consolidation and will do a cost-benefit analysis of about 50 of its 72 sites this summer. In addition to 31 campuses across Indiana, Ivy Tech leases space at about 40 other sites, mostly in small communities. In northeast Indiana, that includes community campuses in Garrett, Ashley, Kendallville, Angola and other sites, where mostly introductory courses are offered.

As officials look for savings, they must not forget students in the state’s smaller communities. Their modest classrooms might be in leased space, but they offer the same valuable returns as the lavish new space on Fall Creek Parkway.

End official prayers before public meetings

(Munster) The Times

The Indiana General Assembly opened a can of worms with pre-session prayers a couple of years ago that clearly weren’t generic enough to cover a multitude of faiths. And now those worms are back on the shelf, in a sense, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to review a case dealing with prayer at local government meetings.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. wants to take a pre-emptive strike against a possible lawsuit and end the practice of prayers before Hammond City Council meetings.

The City Council meetings generally begin with a prayer by Councilman Anthony Higgs, and McDermott said he has always “felt uncomfortable” about this practice.

It’s not that McDermott’s own faith is at issue. He’s a devout Catholic. However, he’s also a firm believer in the First Amendment prohibition against establishing a state religion. That’s an important distinction.

Government is of the people, by the people and for the people. It is not the Lord’s government, even though many Americans are fond of asking His blessings on their leaders.

Hammond has already seen civil rights litigation that could have been avoided. It would be prudent for the Hammond City Council and other government agencies to end the practice of opening meetings with a prayer.

Pray before the meeting is called to order, meet in a caucus beforehand or follow any number of other ways to avoid excluding or annoying anyone at the meeting.

Remember, this is about doing the public’s business, not the Lord’s. Individuals, not the government, are to serve their Maker.

Words of Ohio State University’s president costly

(Lafayette) Journal & Courier

Known as much for his glad-handing and fundraising prowess as he is for his extra-large salary, the Ohio State president has had his share of verbal gaffes. Recordings recently obtained by The Associated Press show that E. Gordon Gee took things to a new low during a December meeting he thought could contain the inappropriate things he had to say.

Here are a few take-aways from an embarrassing incident that tarnishes not only Ohio State, but also affects the Big Ten’s negotiating footing as conference realignment sifts out.

First, as much as college campuses could use a dose of honest, plain-spoken English, no one expected outright insults and bigotry.

Second, the days of backroom in-jokes and locker room patter aren’t around anymore. If college presidents, CEOs, presidential candidates (hello, Mitt Romney) and any of the rest of us haven’t figured out, seemingly private meetings with even loyal followings provide no safe harbor for the inappropriate or the provocative. Outrageous or controversial words are bound to find their way out.

Third, schools naturally were stung by comments about academic rigor and whether all schools were on an even plane with those in the Big Ten. If that isn’t a consideration as athletics-driven consolidation happens, it should be.

But what Gee said was that the conference was looking for not only a good fit in athletics and academics, but also a school that can be trusted.

Obama made smart change in Iran policy

New York Times

The Obama administration has made a useful modification to its Iran policy by lifting sanctions on companies that want to sell cellphones, laptops, encryption software and other similar technology to ordinary Iranians. This should improve the ability of Iranians to circumvent their government’s unrelenting crackdown on dissenting opinion and communicate with each other and the outside world without reprisal.

The decision, announced by the State and Treasury Departments on Thursday, is a departure from the administration’s general approach, which over four years has been to increase sanctions in an effort to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

The technology decision, which comes two weeks before Iran’s presidential election, inserts the United States into Iranian politics on the side of political freedom in a way the Obama administration did not during the last election in 2009. That election was denounced as fraudulent by the Iranian opposition, which, using various social networking services and websites, staged months of protests that, in turn, triggered a vicious government crackdown.

Just what impact the technology decision might have on the presidential election on June 14 is unclear.

This should have been done sooner. Tensions between Iran and the United States — over Syria and terrorism, as well as the nuclear program — will almost certainly get worse, barring some unexpected new policies in Tehran. But America will be in a stronger position if it is seen as standing with the Iranian people.

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