Roof of the problem

As housing gets less affordable, more and more hard-working Montanans are looking for alternatives (“Where the city’s proposed RV ordinance hits the road,” Dec. 14). Unfortunately, camp spaces fill up, especially in the winter, or are not affordable, so they park where they think it’s safe. Something needs to be done about the lack of affordability of housing in this town. Building more apartments does not help anyone but the developer and property management companies. Therein lies another story…

Kathy Smith

Friends in need

Thank you to WMMHC for helping me when I had severe depression and was homeless (“Western Montana Mental Health Center lays off case managers,” Dec. 14). You folks (when you had the funding) helped me get my life back. Please contact your legislators to explain the importance of funding for mental health clients.

Micki Howell

Patterns of abuse

Saturday morning, I read an article in the Independent by Dan Brooks, who included the following quote in his piece: “The administrator of Griz fan forum posted a picture of [Lisa Davey] next to the comment, ‘Now seriously tell me this face hasn’t (performed a sex act) for food a few times in her life?’” (“Brooks: For Bobby Hauck, past is past. Except the winning. He’s definitely bringing winning back.” Dec. 7).

As a female, and because of my profession, I have heard hundreds of stories (and lived my own) like Ms. Davey’s, and each time they squeeze my heart and steal my breath. Our UM grad student, Lisa Davey, felt strongly enough about not re-hiring Mr. Hauck that she started a petition to make her viewpoint known and to create a platform where other students could join her. Universities everywhere invite students to share their opinions in all kinds of ways, including the way Lisa Davey shared hers.

Instead of respectful, considered disagreement with Ms. Davey, the Maroonblood comment (and others) posted in Griz fan forums followed a pattern I see repeated so often. In my experience, three abuses of power are used to oppress women. Ms. Davey’s case is an example. She was l. personally vilified, and 2. sexually harassed to shame and embarrass her, and if I understand correctly, 3. threatened with retaliatory violence. Because violence doesn’t always start or stop with threats, Ms. Davey may be in danger.

These three strategies of power are used frequently against women and are taught, reinforced and endemic within our culture. Some men feel free to use this power against women. And women are conditioned to fear, both from their own experiences and from watching varying degrees of terrible things happen to other women (and girls). To me, this is at the crux of the #metoo movement. It takes tremendous courage for women to speak out against abuse of power, particularly when that power is so skilled at causing great harm with little or no consequence.

I spent the weekend thinking about all of this. In bringing my appreciation for Ms. Davey (and thousands of other women everywhere) back to the university I love, and to the work that defines much of who I am as a person, I am reminded that we are not an island. Our university is a direct extension of the broader culture. And no matter how hard we work to do everything we can to make our campus a safe place for every student—every student—we are strongly influenced and affected by our community (including our Griz fans), by our state and by our nation. In this broad context, we cannot pursue our students’ safety alone. We need a tightly knit fabric of hands and hearts working together to stop sexual harassment, predatory behavior and assault—everywhere it occurs or threatens to occur. This is the only way our students (and university) can flourish. When our students flourish in safety, they are free to pursue their goals and dreams—in academics, in sports or however our students wish to distinguish themselves, including having the freedom to safely speak out in protest on behalf of something that matters deeply to them.

Drew Colling, MS LCPC

Director, Student Advocacy Resource Center (SARC) and Campus Assault Prevention Coordinator

The University of Montana

CHIP away?

Right now, my husband and I have health insurance for ourselves and our two children through my employer. But if I lose my job, decide to change professions or start my own business, we’d be very hard pressed to obtain health insurance independently. Without the renewal of CHIP, working families like mine will have fewer options to explore new or better career possibilities—and this will gradually strangle the growth of small businesses and hurt Montana’s economy.

I don’t have to depend on CHIP right now to clearly see that it benefits the health of kids that are my neighbors, friends and our community. It is clear that without it, families just like mine will suffer. Renewing funding for CHIP is the right thing to do, for the health and safety of all children across Montana. Parents should be able to access health care for their children regardless of their financial position. I don’t need CHIP today, but this isn’t about me. This is about our children’s future.

Leigh Greenwood


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