Friday, June 22, 2012

Hello! Again.

I think my first post on this blog is worth repeating:

"I've chosen to exercise my right to free speech. Institutions that accept government funding and don't pay taxes need to be held accountable for how they spend our money. And students that invest $20K a year (much of it in government-backed loans or grants) have a right to know if their institution is acting in their best interest.

My wish is to help students get the education they deserve and improve working conditions for the faculty and staff. If I must expose questionable practices at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, then so be it. I have no desire to harm the institution or defame anyone. Therefore, if I have posted any information that you feel is not factual, let me know and I'll make a correction or remove the information. There are no trade secrets, internal documents or material obtain illegally posted or discussed in this blog."

Many, many people have contributed to this blog, it should be obvious that I couldn't possibly have discovered  much of what is exposed here on my own. But let me clarify: I'm 100% responsible for everything that appears on this blog. I authored every single word and no one else. To the best of my knowledge, everything is true. This blog by its very nature is a platform for my views and as such, I never claimed it was "fair". I don't publish all the comments I receive as many of them are libelous, ad hominem attacks or not relevant to the discussion.  That's the reality of it and I don't pretend it's anything else. 

Writing this blog has been an interesting journey for me, I was initially naive enough to think that the institution could be saved. After hundreds of hours of research and many conversations with people more in tune with Harrisburg politics and Harrisburg University politics, I no longer believe the University can be saved in its current form. The University currently mimics a predatory for-profit institution -- it lures the most vulnerable students, saddles them with student debt and spits 'em out at an alarming rate. This hits home for me since I made some bad education choices as a younger man and I'm literally still paying for those mistakes 20 years later. I suffered a back injury a few years ago which was financially devastating as I was unable to work at my chosen occupation. My wife was the sole provider in our home for a couple of years and embarrassingly, it has pushed us to the brink of bankruptcy. Even if we do end up filing Chapter 11, I'll still have tens of thousands of dollars of student debt. I don't want to see any more college kids make the same stupid mistakes I did.

I was pleased to see the nice turnout at the Midtown Scholar for a panel discussion on the reality of Harrisburg University on June 21st. I felt like a bit of a chump though when I saw so many members from the Harrisburg community expressing genuine concern about the issues surrounding Harrisburg University. I feel I haven' treated the matter with the seriousness that it deserve, so after today, no more Sandusky jokes, cry eagles or F-bombs.  I was reminded of the many honest and hard working people that poured their hearts and souls into making HU a reality. I hope they understand that my issues with HU are not an affront to their efforts, but rather I support them 100%. Harrisburg University is just going to be a footnote in the Harrisburg financial fiasco if we don't take a critical look at the institution right now and consider viable options to save what should be a valuable asset to the Commonwealth.

Steve Barrows

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