What do we gain with WSU role?

The recent political maneuvering evolving Everett Community College’s University Center into an extension of Washington State University has left me confused about the underlying motivation (March 13 article, “WSU president outlines vision for Everett presence“). Switching providers does nothing to fill the vast territory between Bellingham and Marysville unserved by a university. The residents of north Snohomish, Island and Skagit counties still will not have physical proximity to a university. They’ll still be forced to send their children out of the area at additional expense, or go without. What exactly is the net gain here?

It was suggested that WSU at Everett should establish an aeronautical engineering program. Sitting an educational institution near an employment source is handy for that specific work source, which was, I believe, why our last university was located near Microsoft. However, the citizenry cannot be guaranteed that specific corporations will not eventually fly off, taking their headquarters and workers elsewhere. So we must ask ourselves: What is the purpose of education, to enlighten all its citizens, or job train for specific corporations? In this case, the select, male-dominated field of aeronautical engineering?

And lastly, I ponder why Rep. Hans Dunshee is now advocating that the efficient and economical Everett University Center be replaced by an extension of WSU, an institution unable to offer engineering classes here presently because of their high cost. Was it not Mr. Dunshee’s insistence in 2008, when the Legislature had the will and funding, that we have a UW branch campus in lieu of a stand-alone university? It was this demand that log-jammed the process, withholding progress.

We still need a university in the north end, we still need to educate all our citizens, but I’m fairly certain we don’t need to jump through anyone’s current political agenda, replacing the Everett University Center with a WSU extension.

Elizabeth Diedrick

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