Here are the letters to the editor we received for the week of Jan. 17, 2018.
Racism in Whatcom County Council
Watching council member Tyler Byrd question Timothy Ballew II at the Whatcom County Council meeting on January 16th made my stomach churn. At the meeting, each of the finalists for the At-Large council seat gave a short speech and answered questions from the council. After Ballew’s speech, Byrd repeatedly asked him how he would navigate any potential conflicts of interest between the County and the Lummi Nation should he become a council member. Byrd’s questioning implied that because Ballew is a tribal member and formal tribal leader, he would put tribal interests ahead of the interests of the county when making decisions as a council member. Byrd’s implication reduced Ballew’s character down to his ethnicity, completely discounting Ballew as fellow, equal community member. I do not know if this is what Byrd intended to do, but lack of intent does not change the impact of his actions. Byrd’s questioning of Ballew was racist. While Byrd half-heartedly asked several other candidates about potential conflicts of interest, he did not frame the question around their ethnic backgrounds.
I am saddened and deeply ashamed to see this racist behavior in our own council chambers, perpetrated by a sitting council member towards a prospective council member. Byrd’s actions were disgraceful.
I encourage all community members to watch the video of the meeting on the Whatcom County Council YouTube channel and view Byrd’s actions yourself. With so many people paying attention to local politics these days, it is not a time when such appalling behavior from our elected officials will go unnoticed. We are watching you, Tyler Byrd, and we are expecting better from you. And to other members of the council, especially the chair, Rud Browne, don’t allow this nonsense in the council chambers; challenge it early and often.
Eowyn Savela, Western alum ’02
(Note from The Western Front: The county does not allow videos to be embedded, but the video of the meeting can be viewed by clicking the hyperlink above or this one here. Questioning of Ballew is from 7:38 to 16:25.)
Woodring and the Applicant Problem
To the editor,
It is nothing new that the Woodring College of Education here at our own Western Washington University is one of the top programs in the state since 1893 for those pursuing teaching. What is new, would be the application process. The program has continuously faced the problem of having double the applicants than the actual space available- which is 32 spaces to be exact. There were many workshops available prior to the application stage of last year that advised those applying that the priority of applicants would be changing. This change was made due to the influx of students who have had to apply multiple times before getting accepted into the department.
This change would consist of admission being based off of seniority rather than the amount of GURs accomplished or, singularly, the score of the admission essay. They noticed that the students that had to apply to the program numerous times before admission were upperclassmen and had a mass amount of credits under their belt. New form of admission states that those with highest number of credits and a passing score on their essay now have a higher chance of being accepted into the program.
This new form will hopefully lend students who have been applying to the program, for multiple quarters, a helping hand.
Bryonna Cruz-Bucklin, WWU
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