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Aesthetic malaise 

Aesthetic malaise

“The beautiful is a promise of happiness.”

After reading the June 18 Insider and article “UALR pares back,” Stendhal's quote came to mind. The potential discontinuation of the urban design program among other humanities driven programs (art history and German studies to name a few) because of new “program viability” standards is disconcerting to say the least. George Wittenberg points to the reason for the loss of urban design (which is ultimately true for other disciplines) suggesting that it has to do with tight budgets and low enrollment, which “make it hard to justify keeping certain programs.”

It may be worth noting that once a program is “deleted” it is highly unlikely that it will find life again at UALR. Since I am one of the three tenured art historians at UALR, I obviously have a professional and personal stake in this topic. It is easy to envision what the future of the art program will look like as a result and see the lessening of educational opportunities being only one of the outcomes. Shrinking or dismantling programs for the sake of the bottom line is a slippery slope. Urban design (which as Jimmy Moses points out played a huge role in the planning of the River Market district) and other visual or humanities based programs, like art history, share certain intellectual goals, such as promoting an acute awareness of the world around us — perhaps a certain heightened visual and human interest. I wonder if these types of decisions, which seem to reflect a general aesthetic malaise, will send the wrong message to students at a liberal arts university. At least it is a decision that should not be left unquestioned.

Laura M. Amrhein

Associate Professor of Art History, UALR

Safety first

Last week a neighbor of ours was assaulted and her purse stolen at the big box grocery store in the Heights; another person was robbed at the big box grocery in Hillcrest. It seems that grocery shopping in Little Rock has become a dangerous but necessary chore.

These two incidents — which occurred in broad daylight — only confirm my belief that shopping at either of the smaller, locally owned groceries in this area is more pleasant and is much safer. My purchases are always carried to my car by a friendly, watchful attendant. Moreover, I don't have to circle and circle trying to find a parking place and then search and search for my ubiquitous silver car while my ice cream melts!

Suzanne Hamilton

Little Rock

Still waiting

I'm still waiting for Jerry Cox and his cohort to publish a list of the Act 1 petition signers who have volunteered to foster children. Black children fostered by the pure-hearted pretenders among them? Perhaps the ones who've fostered Down syndrome afflicted children or those born with HIV?

Could we have an accounting by churches that pushed the petition? How many with memberships of, say 300, whose membership can boast of at least 100 applicants for foster kids? 

And let's not leave out which churches were Baptist of various sorts, which were Pentecostal, etc.

If they expect Jesus to be proud of and pleased with their mealy mouthed excuses for claiming it was “pro-child and not anti-homosexual,” then let's hear who they are by denomination and degree to which they are willing to practice what they preach.

I sort of wonder if we'd suddenly generate a market for the millstones mentioned in Scripture.

Karl Hansen

Hensley

For free choice

In regards to your article about Senator Lincoln, I have something to say. Arkansas workers need the Employee Free Choice Act. I and four of my co-workers were illegally fired when we tried to form a union at our factory in Jonesboro. We never got our jobs back and it took us years to get our court-ordered back pay. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part is that by firing us, the company destroyed any chance of forming a union at our plant and denied our coworkers the ability to bargain for a better life for their families.

But we are not alone. Every year over 30,000 Americans are illegally fired or punished for union activity. But the current penalties are so weak, it's simply a cost of doing business for many employers. The Employee Free Choice Act will strengthen the penalties against employers who violate the law and allow workers to form unions without fear of job loss and intimidation.

And Arkansas workers desperately need the ability to bargain for better wages and benefits to keep their families afloat during these tough economic times. Arkansas ranks 48th in household income and 12th in the percentage of workers without health insurance. But when we try to exercise our legal right to bargain for a better deal, employers routinely threaten, intimidate and fire workers.

I recently met with Sen. Blanche Lincoln to tell her our story and ask her to support the Employee Free Choice Act. Now she will need to decide whether she is going to side with Arkansan working families struggling to make ends meet, or with big-business and corporate greed.

Kelly Collins

Jonesboro

 

 

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