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Letter of the Day: Elite class folly

  • Sonoma State University President Ruben ArmiƱana escorts Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, at the opening of the Green Music Center. (JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat)

Elite class folly

EDITOR: The Sept. 29 opening of the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University was nothing less than a grand celebration of wealth and privilege. Beaded dresses, tuxedos and political elites blended in a glorious aristocratic coming out.

Built in a time of an economic recession, and including $47million in public bonds, the $150 million music center represents one of the most opulent, expensive building projects in the history of Sonoma County. The center's website claims it is “destined to become one of the most sought-after music and arts venues in the world” and says “all three floors of Weill Hall are filled with handcrafted, European steamed beech maple seats, which remain acoustically neutral whether occupied or empty.”

One attendee was reported to have remarked, “The bathrooms were nicer than my whole house.”

While Sonoma State is suffering tuition increases, declining faculty-student ratios and widespread institutional cuts, the local media fell over itself with acclaim for SSU President Ruben Armiñana's “vision” — vaunting magniloquently his personal drive.

The extravagance of the Green Music Center means SSU faculty students and staff will continue to suffer lost resources long into the future due to continuing expenses in excess of income.

PETER PHILLIPS

Professor, Sonoma State University

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