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Excessive fees

EDITOR: Sonoma State University is considering an additional student fee of $500 per year, after a $300 increase last year ("SSU weighs fee boost," Feb. 5).

On behalf of eight other retired faculty members, we want to express our opposition to any increase in fees at this time, regardless of whether it is imposed or approved by a staged plebiscite.

In today's economy, a college degree is essential to success. Given the benefits for the individual and society, a college education should be accessible and affordable for all qualified residents of California.

The escalating costs of higher education have already discouraged students from attending college and many recent graduates have been saddled for life with large debts from student loans. The average debt of recent SSU graduates is more than $21,000, the second highest in the California State University system.

Since SSU is already the third-most expensive institution in the CSU system, an additional fee of $500, which will not be covered by financial aid, would place a substantial burden on SSU students and their families.

Since other CSU campuses have met this challenge without raising fees, we suggest that SSU adopt administrative reforms and cuts and tap other resources to guarantee access to classes and timely graduation.

TONY WHITE

Santa Rosa

and DAN MARKWYN

Santa Rosa

Keep conserving

EDITOR: Good news to read that reservoirs are filling. But we must continue to conserve. In fact, I think it will be a forever thing. Now if only we can stop the geniuses at the Army Corps of Engineers from letting the water out of the dams. Or is that too much to expect? Keep conserving folks.

LINDA ELLIOTT

Cloverdale

Legalize drugs

EDITOR: It occurred to me with all the fuss over the recent death of a well-known actor by drug overdose, the erstwhile war on drugs, now couched as rehabilitation and education, is a long-standing failure.

Recall, years ago, many erudite, prominent people including the noted conservative pundit, writer and publisher William F. Buckley were the early out-front proponents of legalization of all drugs. Criminals ergo crime would be virtually eliminated and tax revenue from the sale thereof would be an economic windfall. A few years ago, a so-called Global Commission on Drug Policy report said "ending the war on drugs would save an estimated $41 billion annually in enforcement and incarceration costs in the U.S. alone, with an added $47 billion in tax revenue based on tobacco and alcohol sales."

Marijuana is the forerunner, with national legalization undoubtedly forthcoming. On its heels, realistically, all other drugs now illegal would follow with appropriate caveats, restrictions medical resources and other treatment options in place.

It's just good business.

DENNIS TOBIN

Santa Rosa

The machine age

EDITOR: While machines take over more and more of the hard labor, the manufacturing and the office work, the work ethic engrained deeply in our society will become less necessary ("Abilities that machines can't replace," David Brooks, Feb. 5).

In this brave new world, what will be needed instead are adjustments to the overall financial system so that citizens can benefit from the output of the machines while at the same time having more time for leisure, recreation, creativity and self-improvement. Activities such as these can come to be defined as the new pursuits and the new virtues.