Buffalo Exchange is a fine company Dear Nick: I recently read the opinion piece that you wrote for your paper regarding the “sterilization” of downtown Portland. I found your comment about Buffalo Exchange to be rather offensive and inaccurate. Buffalo Exchange can be described as many things but “boring” is not one of them.

Buffalo Exchange is a fine company

Dear Nick:

I recently read the opinion piece that you wrote for your paper regarding the “sterilization” of downtown Portland. I found your comment about Buffalo Exchange to be rather offensive and inaccurate. Buffalo Exchange can be described as many things but “boring” is not one of them.

It is true that there is more than one Buffalo Exchange. This is not a bad thing. Buffalo Exchange has grown into the company that it is through the hard work and dedication of a family (Spencer, Kerstin and Rebecca Block) who work to improve the world by investing in the communities in which they do business, training and developing employees while offering them good pay and benefits and helping the environment. Buffalo Exchange is a sustainable company dedicated to protecting the environment by reusing and recycling clothing. Since 1997, Buffalo Exchange has donated over $167,000 to environmental causes on Earth Day alone. Buffalo Exchange donates to local nonprofit agencies in our community through its Tokens for Bags program, which has generated nearly $240,000 in donations to hundreds of nonprofit groups since 1994, saving 4.8 million bags. Shoppers are encouraged to accept a token instead of a bag for purchases, and Buffalo Exchange donates five cents to a charity of the customer’s choice.

Buffalo Exchange represents the communities in which they do business and reflects the character of those communities. I have a difficult time believing that you have spent any time in or around our Burnside store because if you had I think you would have used a different adjective to describe it. The store and neighborhood are anything but boring. The employees at Buffalo Exchange are trained to deal with a variety of situations that most people never encounter because they have to be prepared for anything. It is a challenging and rewarding job that is sometimes difficult but never boring.

I would like to invite you to stop by our store, chat with the manager and get to know a little bit about our company. You just might like it.

Sincerely,Mary Kolegoarea manager, Buffalo Exchange

Raising rent hurts students

The Feb. 14 story, “Proposal would increase rent by 3 percent,” referred to the fact that while last year’s housing rates saw a detrimental 9 percent hike, this year–depending on the building–we can expect a 3-5 percent increase. The article seemed to imply that compared to last year’s attempts to cut the Residence Life program and the huge increases in rates, this percentage is easier to swallow. The number may be less; however, the action is still damaging.

As a student who could never afford to live on campus because of how expensive the rates are, I am frustrated at seeing housing costs on campus constantly increase without much thought as to how this will affect the hundreds of students who are already struggling to make ends meet. Furthermore, the proposed payment shift from monthly to yearly or term-by-term also poses significant problems for non-traditional students who cannot afford to be nailed to a long-term contract. How can we ever expect to work for a greater community when we are constantly forcing our students out of on-campus housing and into affordable options miles away from PSU?

The university needs to understand the importance of college housing and the service it should be providing to all students. They need to begin to adequately fund housing so that rates do not continue to rise. I will be at the open hearings this week and I would encourage my peers to be there and show the university that we as students refuse to have their budgetary gaps balanced on our backs and that we are tired of being priced out of our education, our homes and our futures.

Patrick BeisellPSU student, elementary education minor

A wider range of options

I very much appreciate your front-page article on the newly approved minor in elementary education. Over the last two years or so, many people involved in teacher preparation and advising worked hard on the minor. There are lots of reasons why I think the minor is a good option for students.

About 20 years ago (more or less), the State of Oregon made a decision to shift almost all teacher education programs to the graduate level rather than having students earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. At that point, students were advised to pursue an undergraduate major, typically within liberal arts and sciences, which allowed them to pick and choose courses which would prepare them to teach the wide ranges of topics that were part of the elementary curriculum. Additionally, they were advised to take coursework in human development, earn practical experience working with children, and meet whatever other testing requirements or pre-requisite coursework identified by their chosen graduate teacher education program.

While that advice was fairly uniform for all students interested in elementary education, no specific major has been seen as the only or best path of preparation. At PSU, students are encouraged to consider a wide range of majors. Those choices can be made based on some combination of students’ particular academic interests, the age group they are most focused on teaching, or on particular teacher shortage areas. The best sort of elementary school has teachers trained in the essential core of the curriculum. Additionally, they need to have teachers with particular strengths and backgrounds in many fields.

While the majority of PSU students who intend to apply to the Graduate Teacher Education Program major in one of the interdisciplinary majors within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, we continue to see and encourage students to major in fields like foreign languages, history, geography and English, among others. The minor allows students to make wise choices among many majors, while at the same time giving them an elementary ed focus at the undergraduate level. Much of the coursework in the minor is made up of courses that are pre-requisites to the Graduate School of Education. The minor adds courses in areas where students have tended to be less well prepared such as math and science. It also requires courses, such as Ed 420, which have always been highly recommended, but not required.

Our students will continue to make a wide range of good choices about which pathway they will follow to prepare for a career as an elementary teacher. For some, that will include this new minor. For others it will not.

Robert Mercerassistant dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

University Studies is an asset to PSU

As mentioned in the Vanguard article detailing the now-famous pink slips, doing away with the graduate mentor program could mean the beginning of the end of University Studies. Here is my vote in favor of keeping the program intact. I met the love of my life in a University Studies class. She was a biology major, and I was working towards a degree in English. We might never have met if not for the requirement; there were not any other classes that we would have taken together. But because of so many factors, we both ended up in Transfer Transition: Frankenstein. And now, five years after that class, we are planning our Big Fat Gay Wedding. University Studies was implemented so that students could get a more broad exposure to education by taking a class here and there that would not otherwise be a requirement for a particular degree. I appreciate this. But I’ve heard quite a bit of grumbling from my fellow students about this particular aspect of University Studies in the form of, “Why do I have to take this? It has nothing to do with what I’m going to do with my life!” Why oh why do people complain about doing something that gives them a different perspective? Oh right, because this is the United States of America, and we are free to do any number of asinine things. So go ahead, complain about your many opportunities for education!

I believe that an important aspect of a happy, healthy life is having interests which differ from what we’re doing from 9 to 5. The fact that PSU has built this into a requirement for a coveted degree is astounding and praise-worthy. But instead of pride, this institution is feeling rather weak in the pocketbook. So on a completely unrelated topic let me just ask this: how much did the new rec center cost?

Erin WoodcockPortland