The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 30, 2012

Our View: The value of diversity

The Free Press

— Thumbs up: To MSU for continuing to build a strong base of international students on campus.

Since 2005, international student numbers have grown from 447 to 768, ranking MSU 38th nationally for international student enrollment.

The university has become more active in recruiting international students. But the best recruitment tool remains word of mouth. International students attending MSU tell family and friends back home.

The fact international students feel they are welcome, embraced and that they are getting a good education is a positive reflection on MSU and the Mankato community.

International students and their families contributed an estimated $16.2 million to the Mankato economy during the 2011-2012 school year.

But it’s the diversity they bring to the community — a sharing of their cultures and experiences — that is most valuable to the Mankato area.


Erosion control efforts offer a good start

Thumbs up: To the efforts of the Nicollet County officials and local environmentalists who have established and erosion-control project at Seven Mile Creek.

The Friends of the Minnesota Valley and longtime area environmentalist Scott Sparlin working with the county have secured $80,000 from Minnesota’s Legacy Fund to set up a streambank erosion-control system that should prevent sediment from getting into the creek.

The system uses plastic liners along the steepest ravines and ditches that empty into the trout stream. The plastic liner, a product of SmartDitch, protects the bank by covering it but also allows water to flow slower through its deep ribs. Ground Zero Services of Courtland helped install the project.

About $8,000 of the fund will be used for the plastic liners, and the rest of the grant will be used for similar projects at Seven Mile Park and possibly some projects to limit runoff from agricultural land near the park.

The efforts of the volunteer groups working with business and government show projects like these don’t always have to involve setting up a new agency. Erosion is one of the most critical issues for the Minnesota River and it’s a credit to these groups that they are doing something about it.


A round for the Planning Commission

Thumbs up: To the Mankato Planning Commission for toasting imaginative business displays by supporting a proposed ordinance that allows rooftop displays in a specific part of town.

The skyline logo ordinance would reverse the effects of a prior notice that Wine Cafe owner Mike Baumann had received saying his rooftop display of an illuminated martini glass had to come down.

The proposed ordinance would establish a district from Vine Street south to Jackson Street along Riverfront Drive and from Cherry Street south to Byron Street along Front Street.

If guidelines are established that require quality displays similar to the martini glass, the ordinance could help boost exposure to the Old Town/downtown area. The ordinance proposal will go before the council in January.


The right and wrong words

Thumbs up: To The Associated Press, which announced this week that it will no longer include the words “homophobia,” “Islamophobia” and “ethnic cleansing” in its Style Book.

Words and phrases are often used in inaccurate and even destructive ways, and AP regularly points out the problems with that. Sometimes we agree with their adjustments and sometimes we don’t, but they’re correct in pointing out that the “phobia” words, in their words, are “just off the mark.”

A phobia is a fear, and “homophobia” and “Islamophobia” have been routinely used to insult people who take opposing political positions. It is wrong to automatically ascribe a mental disability to someone to whose positions we disagree with.

AP reminds us to fight fair. Words matter. And the English language should be used more thoughtfully.

Editorial board


Community made ChiliFest a success

Thumbs up: The fifth annual Mankato’s ChiliFest planning committee would like to take time and thank all those in the community who supported this year’s event.

More than 600 people came out to support Vets and Rett this year and helped raise over $16,000.

This event couldn’t be successful without the kindness and generosity of the entire community, whether it be the chili competitors, beanbag throwers, silent auction or raffle donors, the countless volunteers that helped and the hundreds of people that supported us by attending that day.

So, to everyone who helped make this year’s ChiliFest a success, we want to thank you.

We’ll see you at next year’s ChiliFest in November.

Matt DuRose

North Mankato