UNLV’s top priority is faculty pay – so says NV Chancellor

Nevada Chancellor Dan Klaich agrees with UNLV President Neal Smastrek – restoring faculty pay back to the pre-5% cut level is the top priority of UNLV. 

     Forget the four-year graduation rates hovering around 15%, ignore the fact that staff are utilizing the food pantry to make ends meet and disregard that UNLV’s student government, CSUN, has received a record number of scholarship applications, including those for the Emergency Aid Scholarship, with more students applying this semester than have applied in every previous year since its inception. To Klaich, all of those issues take a back seat to restoring faculty pay to the pre cut levels.

     When asked why he agreed with President Smastrek and didn’t consider the aforementioned items more disconcerting, Klaich responded that well-paid faculty is the “backbone” of a “nationally competitive” university.

     Klaich was told of the record number of students applying for emergency aid scholarships and then asked, “If UNLV needs more money for faculty pay, what should be cut so that the tuition burden on students isn’t increased?” Klaich said that he’s “not for raising fees to pay faculty salaries” but said, “A part of the burden will be borne by student fees.” He reassured the students in the journalism class that he was speaking to that the students that will pay for faculty will be future students, not current ones.

     Although students have had tuition raised time and time again, Klaich said that he believes the tuition increases are fair and that all students should share the burden.

     When students in the journalism class asked what he thought about students who drop out of UNLV to accept high paying, low skill jobs on the Las Vegas Strip, Klaich quipped, “It’s great if you (students) want nowhere to go” in their careers.

     Klaich said that the university needs more students graduating, yet he couldn’t explain why UNLV doesn’t recruit students who take the ACT or SAT to attend the university. Instead, Klaich stressed a need to get rid of the high school proficiency exam in Nevada and that “we (UNLV) have to reach down to middle schools as to why college is important.”

     Students at UNLV face uncertainty with tuition increases that outpace the rate of inflation, courses that have fewer classes available and more grad students teaching courses. To add to the red tape of the university, UNLV doesn’t accept the same CLEP credit as the University of Nevada at Reno or certain classes at CSN, posing more headaches for transfer students.

     When asked why UNLV doesn’t accept CLEP credit for general education classes that UNR accepts, Chancellor Klaich stood up for students, saying, “We should do whatever we can do to get rid of that nonsense. There’s no excuse for that.”  

With so many groups vying for preferential treatment from the Board of Regents and the Chancellor, time will tell if students’ educations and their financial burden will be a factor in the upcoming funding formula meeting.

Students look to author for answers for the future

As students filed in to the classroom, you could see the eagerness on their faces. They would soon ask the man at the front of the classroom the magic question; what should they do to make their careers take off?

With job prospects scarce and a culture of people that no longer work at a job or two for a lifetime, students look to anybody for advice.  That Thursday afternoon, somebody was here to tell them about the industry and how he went from a student to a published author. Students were on the edges of their seats.

Kurt Divich, a former UNLV communications major from the class of ’95 spoke of how he began his journalism career. “I was a comm major and at the time, you didn’t have to specialize. I used to tell employers that I specialized in whatever they were looking for at that particular job.”  Students snickered and smiled at the idea as they furiously took notes.

Although Divich know works as a financial journalist, he didn’t begin his career in that field. After a stint at Applebee’s restaurant, he went into the public sector. He told the students that he, along with his wife and mother of his four children, feel strongly about gay marriage and that they lobby for gay rights. “I started out working in the Parks and Recs department, and then I worked for the Democratic Party.” He counseled students to do various jobs, including those in politics, and then use that experience to hone their journalistic craft.

After a 20-minute speech, Divich went around the room and asked each student what they were planning to do after college.  Students sat wide-eyed and clung to every word that came out of Divich’s mouth as if it were gospel truth. He advised each student for their chosen path, telling the group that “what you want to do and what you would be good for isn’t always the same thing. Look for your strengths and specialize in that area.”

As the period came to an end, students looked as if they had some direction in their life. With bags packed, they awkwardly approached Divich to ask a few last minute questions. When they left class, they went out into the world as if they had hope for the future and a mission to “make it” in the field of journalism.

If the government tells you how to spend your money, is it a free country?

While this court case was decided back in 2010, people are still upset about this ruling. My politics class required us to write about it, so here goes.

Citizens United v. FEC

 “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

 – 1st amendment of the US Constitution

 In the case of Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court was justified in ruling that parts of BCRA were unconstitutional.  Prior to this ruling, Citizens United would be prevented from airing a documentary 30 days before an election, while allowing, for example, a media conglomerate, the right to promote candidates.  To limit the rights of certain entities to publish information, expressly goes against what this country stands for.

America was founded on principles that maximize freedom from government. This country was made for people to be autonomous. Through the limiting of governmental powers, establishing a system of checks and balances and allowing representatives and people to make decisions, rather than a single leader, the founding fathers created the closest thing in existence to a “free” country.

When a government dictates what is allowed to be said or how an entity can spend their money, the entity, whether a business or a person, is no longer autonomous. The exchange of information in the marketplace of ideas is severely limited when the government, rather than the people, acts as the gatekeepers to information.

It was never the government’s job to dictate how a private entity spends its money. Unfortunately, there are people in our country that want to limit freedom. They want the government to be able to be in control of what messages make it out into the public. Regardless of what type of entity, whether it’s you or your family’s restaurant, or the union your friend belongs to or your favorite charity, these people wanted to dictate and limit others’ ability to spend the money they earned on promoting their ideas.  People who want to restrict entities’ ability to spend their money as they deem fit, have motives that run counter to the Constitution.

According to Steve Simpson, from the Institute for Justice, “The larger & more powerful the government, the greater the incentive is to spend more & lobby more to take control of that government.” To prevent corrupt governments issuing monopolies on information, it’s imperative that corporations, unions, families and people are allowed to bring their ideas to the masses. Freedom of speech puts power in the hands of people, rather than that of governments and their cronies.

The first amendment was put in place so that people, not governments, could share information, without a governmental filter, to make the most informed decision about choices that affect their lives. The Supreme Court was justified in breaking down an unconstitutional barrier to free speech. This ruling was a victory for people over oppression and tyranny.