Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials
Posted 5:33 p.m. Thursday
Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, Oct. 8
State needs to boost its college spending
The Board of Regents seems to be struggling to figure out why enrollment continues to decline at South Dakota's six public universities.
On Wednesday, the Journal reported that resident headcount has declined by 5,300 students since 2010. Over that same time period, the cost to attend Black Hills State University, for example, increased by 30 percent and 33 percent at the University of South Dakota — in both cases far above the overall cost of living.
In 2010, a BHSU freshman could expect to spend $47,252 over four years if the school did not raise tuition and fees while the student was in school, which has not been the case at any state university lately. The figure is based on taking 32 credits a year and room and board.
In 2017, a freshman can expect to pay $61,684 over four years based on 30 credits a year and those other expenses. At USD, it went from $49,348 to $65,772. At the School of Mines in Rapid City, it climbed 36 percent to $66,552, the highest in the state.
So, let's use what a South Dakota lawmaker might call common-sense logic. Higher costs are at least playing a role in discouraging students from attending college.
The regents have been discussing this problem for some time now. In 2015, the board commissioned a study by the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute that showed only 38 percent of South Dakotans 25 and older had a two-year associate degree.
In 2015, the regents released a report that said South Dakota charged more for tuition and fees than North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska. At the same time, the state charged the lowest costs for out-of-state students.
In addition to rising tuition costs, public college students have been subjected to numerous fee increases, many dedicated to paying off bond debt for new buildings at the universities. Right now, the regents are considering a new fee of $5.07 per credit hour to increase the salary of faculty members.
The Board of Regents president also has a new idea to address enrollment — let university presidents set tuition and fees for their colleges.
That, however, would be an inappropriate delegation of an important task from the regents who have direct access to the Legislature to university presidents who are busy managing multi-million dollar operations and working to provide college students with the best possible education.
The proposal also fails to address the main problem — the increasing cost of higher education in South Dakota, which in 2017 has the second highest proportion of students with college debt in the nation, according to WalletHub.com.
At the same meeting where the regents discussed handing off the tuition-and-fee problem to college presidents, it was reported by the Legislative Research Council that the state would need to increase funding by $15.7 million annually to reach the regional average for state higher-education funding.
If the state of South Dakota wants to stop the bleeding of enrollment, the Legislature — not college presidents — needs to find more money for higher education. Otherwise, fewer of our youth will get the chance to make their dream come true in their home state.
American News, Aberdeen, Oct. 11
Help break the silence around domestic violence
Bludgeoned. Bloody. Burned and bruised.
Nov. 17, 2009, in Florida — a day Audrey Mabrey vividly remembers when her estranged husband bludgeoned her with a hammer before he lit her on fire.
She told her story Tuesday in the American News, and to an Aberdeen audience during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Often, there is a sad silence surrounding domestic violence. A silence that results in screams for those involved. A silence that too often ends in the most violent way after a string of silent violent acts.
For Mabrey, 80 percent of her body was covered in burns from that horrific day. She spent three months and one day in the hospital.
Like so many other domestic abuse cases, for those looking from the outside in, nothing seemed wrong in Mabrey's life, other than the normal day-to-day troubles we all encounter.
"If you talked to someone about our marriage they would tell you that he worshipped the ground I walked on," Mabrey said.
Mabrey said no domestic violence story is greater than any other.
Victims — survivors — sometimes downplay their situations, especially to Mabrey, often telling her, "My story isn't as bad as yours."
But it is.
"Trauma cannot be measured — period," Mabrey said.
We agree. Each domestic violence story is unique, disturbing and troubling in its own way. And the seemingly simple solution of "turn the abuser in" is never that simple, but a complex, twisted compilation of lives involved.
Mabrey was in Aberdeen for an event for the Safe Harbor crisis shelter. Our community and this region is blessed to have a facility such as Safe Harbor and others like it.
And that goes for the people who work at those facilities, as well. People who lovingly, caringly and expertly are taking care of fellow humans in crisis.
Domestic violence comes in many forms, but in the end, it is always wrong.
We've said it before from experts and domestic abuse online sites, but the best way to help those suffering domestic violence is to:
— Believe them.
— Don't judge, and respect their decisions.
— Encourage and support them.
— Remind the person being abused how brave they are being in telling you their story.
If you have questions, places such as Safe Harbor have answers. The agency lists these numbers and website as part of a 24-hour help line:
— Local: 605-226-1212.
— Toll free: 888-290-2935.
Domestic violence is never the answer to resolve conflict. There is no excuse for it.
Mabrey suggests that we teach our children about healthy relationships.
She said sex education is being taught in schools and domestic violence is being defined, but no one is teaching youth what a healthy relationship is, she said.
"You don't just preach about not wanting war. You preach about peace," Mabrey said.
It makes sense in a subject that seems senseless but happens all too often here and everywhere else.
The silence is truly deafening.
The Daily Republic, Mitchell, Oct. 12
Anxious for lake study results
Great green gobs of disgusting, smelly algae filled Lake Mitchell over the summer.
With long stretches of hot, dry weather in eastern South Dakota, we heard several cries that this was the worst condition the lake's ever been in.
We know this: It sure was nasty at times. And that's why we're getting anxious for Omaha-based water quality specialist Fyra Engineering to present its findings on the lake's problems to the City Council soon.
The recreational opportunities at the lake are plentiful. Angling, scenery and walking and bike trails are all draws for the city's residents. But do we want to show off our lake when it looks like it did over the summer? Heck no.
There needs to be an urgency to figure out how to realistically slow the massive algae blooms each summer from overtaking Lake Mitchell.
The City Council voted in October 2016 to spend more than $73,000 for Fyra to comprehensively study the lake. There are also a Watershed Advisory Committee and a Technical Advisory Team assembled of volunteers who understand the importance of improving the lake.
While we're encouraged to see steps in the right direction, the information we get within the next month from Fyra will be crucial to the future of the lake.
On Tuesday, Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell informed the Lake Advisory Committee that the key individual leading the Fyra study has left the agency, which doesn't lend any extra confidence to the results. And with a handful of studies having been conducted in the past, we empathize with those who think this $73,725 report wasn't the best use of city dollars.
But we have to be optimistic in anticipation of Fyra's report. So here's hoping the information Fyra provides will ultimately lead to answers to fix the lake.
Because, quite honestly, we have no idea what will happen if this study falls flat.