Protect UW students as well as the university's president

Columnist Dennis Wilken, the Stranger and others have written of their concerns about the vulnerability of women being stalked by nut-job men on the University of Washington campus. Wilken, along with many of us easily disturbed observers, is angered that the university cops apparently are too busy to protect women like the slain Rebecca Griego, and that the U might be able to work out some student "peer escort" scheme by, oh, say, September.

Wilken, like the rest of us hard-to-please, never-satisfied, gadfly types, wonders what the hell endangered women should do until then? The nerve of us.

And how dare we claim there's a disparity between the UW failure to protect Griego and another more recently endangered UW female student, vs. the contrasting rush to shield the overpaid UW president from an anonymous whack job threat-letter from Colorado? Don't we see the value difference between a schmoozer making maybe $900,000 a year and some mere student who ought to be glad to be in school at all? What's our problem, dude?

I'm a UW graduate (twice) from the 1950s, when there were still enough World War II veterans on campus to give us younger types the example of relative maturity. These older students weren't taking any crap, and that made a difference in the quality of student government, and the student newspaper, and the student body attitude toward the university's leadership.

A different time. Some good, some bad-but not as crazy as now. The hell with a "peer escort" scheme by September! Protect these women fully, at once, and to the maximum amount possible!

The current university president was hired after some unpleasantness and embarrassment from the previous leadership for a hair-raising salary-plus-cost-of-living increase, plus god knows what else. The price was defended on the basis that the new hire would bring stability and dependability to a university that had been deceived and jilted by the school's previous leadership, starting from the president's office and involving sports, particularly.

What was needed was a faithful, reliable marriage with a partner who would settle down and get back to the primary educational mission: fund-raising.

Last year one of Seattle's daily papers printed an inspired report-with pictures from the golfing and expensive dining events-of the president's pursuit of rich alums in their lavish estates. The president was there to redirect wandering conversations back to the money. It was amusing and vexing that the awarding of increasingly grand titles were given out to benefactors able to up the yearly ante at the UW.

In the meantime, periodic rumors were printed regarding the intentions of other centers of higher learning to lure our leader away for even higher pay, threatening once more to jilt us. Oh the shock, the rejection!

But, so far, the marriage seems stable enough, and the money is coming in. So let's take care of the university's kids: use some of this money to protect them. The hell with September "peer plans"-buy real protection, now, and not just for the president.

Rainier Beach writer and artist Gordon Anderson may be reached via

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