Despite columnist’s arguments, trustees’ actions indefensible I read with interest the column by Frank Mendicino in the February 27, 2020, edition of the Laramie Boomerang. He defends the actions of the Board of Trustees in the dismissal of Dr. Laurie Nichols, President of the University of Wyoming, as acceptable and satisfactory. His explanation seems one-sided and unfair.
Mr. Mendicino states, “over 20 employees of the University of Wyoming were interviewed by the investigators and that the trustees made their decision based upon the totality of the investigations . . .” There are 2,800-plus staff and faculty, and 12,000-plus students at UW (that’s close to 15,000 people). Were the two complaints that have been cited in various articles and the 20-plus interviews Mr. Mendicino cites the basis of the dismissal of the president of the University of Wyoming? That’s an incredibly small number upon which to base a dismissal of the head of a university after nearly three years of successful leadership.
After receiving the investigators’ reports, members of the Board of Trustees flew to Arizona to advise Dr. Nichols her contract would not be renewed. Was she given the opportunity to defend herself? Did she have the chance to challenge or dispute any claims made by the people interviewed? It seems Dr. Nichols’s may have been denied due process of law. Part of the principle of due process of law is “the right of the accused to confront his or her accusers.”
And what has this debacle cost? In addition to the money wasted, the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees now appears petty and frivolous. The Board doesn’t seem to realize how negatively their actions have reflected upon the university and the state.
I fail to see how Mr. Mendicino can defend the actions of the Board of Trustees. His disregard for the costs of this disaster and his failure to support Dr. Nichols’s right to confront her accusers and to defend herself is odious.
Legislators need to focus on prevention to reduce abortionTo the Editor,
Reading today that our mostly male legislators are once again arrogantly prying into women’s lives and their private relationships with their doctors, I am left with many questions for those who do not accept that abortion rights are legal in the United States. If you care so much about preventing abortions, I ask:
Where is the legislation supporting affordable, state-wide access to reproductive health care and contraception including the morning after pill?
Where is the legislation providing sex and health education for our young people, the boys and the girls?
Where is the legislation requiring men who impregnate women to be financially responsible for the lives of those babies?
Why does your religious belief matter more than another’s and why are you not upholding the laws that separate church and state?
Why do you believe you hold the moral high ground on this health issue yet deny the poorest people of Wyoming their federal money for health care via Medicaid Expansion?
Where is the legislation raising our shamefully low minimum wage so people can afford to raise families?
No one want to have an abortion and there are many ways to help prevent them. For legislators to deny women their legal freedoms, pushing their personal religious agenda above the law and the beliefs of others and threatening physicians is not the way.
Legislative measure is anti-woman in Equality StateThe Wyoming Legislature is still in full out attack on women in our so-called “Equality State.” Continuing non-stop attempts to take away women’s freedom in Republicans’ War on Women, an amendment was written into the State Budget Bill affecting UW’s Block Grant—a proposal that did not go to committee but was instead sneakily rushed into this unrelated Bill. Rep. Chuck Gray’s, R-Casper, initiative is an attempt to stop UW Student Health Services from helping women by providing access to abortions through UW’s student health care, which are actually funded through the premiums the students themselves pay, so this isn’t even related to the bill or the state of Wyoming.
This should not even be an amendment, but a separate bill in itself, according to Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, who then went ahead and voted “yes” anyway, unsurprisingly losing his courage and sticking safely to his party line.
Senator Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, also stands out for his support. Hicks feels it’s “not fair” to anti-choice students. Senator Hicks needs to learn that life isn’t fair. Even kindergarten teaches children that what some children receive is based on they need and not what’s fair. Fairness has nothing to do with it. Under Gray’s sneak attack, anti-choice students wouldn’t be told what to do with their bodies, but women choosing abortions would. I pay for taxes and fees for plenty of things I don’t agree with, because that’s the way it is. I don’t get to pick and choose because I don’t approve.
Representatives Cathy Connelly and Charles Pelkey voted against the amendment, because they believe in women’s freedom, and know it is unattainable if a woman has no control over her own body and life, a right only white American males seem to enjoy without continuous threat of losing that right. And that is freedom. As to the condescending pat on the back to women with the much touted 150 Years of Women’s Suffrage, Wyoming seems to have confused “suffrage” with “suffering”, because if they take away our choice, women will suffer hugely.
Legislature is failing Wyoming’s youthThe Legislature chose that Wyoming not participate in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The survey is used by 46 of 50 states to guide how scarce prevention dollars are spent. Here’s the link to the survey. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/questionnaires.htm
I wonder what century they think we’re living in. I wonder if they’ve forgotten what it was like being a teenager. I guess these legislators never experimented with alcohol or cigarettes, drove too fast, had, or tried to have sex. The reason one representative gave for voting the amendment down was that some of the questions on the survey were “distasteful, and yet that’s what we’re exposing our high schoolers and middle schoolers to.” I guess the Legislature believes kids don’t use the internet or social media.
It is the kind of willful ignorance exhibited by the Legislature that keeps Wyoming communities, schools and families from getting a handle on the problem of youth substance use and abuse, obesity, suicide, bullying, sexual violence and vaping. All of these are symptoms of how much our youth are hurting, how adults are failing them. How can we address problems and help youth make healthy choices without knowledge of peer group behaviors?
When I was active in the prevention field 20 years ago a Wyoming ethos was, “I drank and drove and got s---faced in high school, and look at me now — I’m a successful adult.”
The Legislature just told us they don’t care about Wyoming’s youth. They don’t want to know what our children “do.” They would rather we be ignorant.
If nothing else, the Legislature is being fiscally irresponsible. Research shows that every $1 invested in effective substance use prevention programs will result in a future savings between $2 and $20. The Legislature just told us they would rather spend money on treatment programs, on building new jails, on more medical and mental health services.
The Legislature chooses to wallow in ignorance. Our children are hurting, and the YRBS is a tool to document how.
Jeffrey J. Olson