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As I read the Jan. 17 article about the “Gophers’ game-changer,” describing the University of Minnesota’s $166 million “Athletes Village” — built to be a “ ‘wow factor’ to capture recruits’ imagination … while adding nutrition, academic and career development space for all 750 student-athletes” — I paused and asked myself: What do the taxpayers of Minnesota get in return for their investment?

We just endured yet another scandal in the headlines of alleged sexual misconduct by yet another student-athlete. This select group enjoys coaches with multimillion-dollar contracts, sports venues that are fit for professional teams, academic scholarships for a world-class education and tutors to ensure that they complete their classwork. Athletic prowess enables them privileges that few other students enjoy.

In return, most would only ask that they leave the University of Minnesota a better place than when they arrived.

Thomas Noonan, Burnsville

• • •

A few questions from an undistinguished alumnus regarding the new Athletes Village:

Is it a good idea that the elite athletes be isolated in a separate compound? Sounds lonely — to be cut off from the main campus. Shouldn’t we allow the star student-athletes to mix with the common students during their limited time away from training?

Don’t the elite English, engineering and dentistry recruits deserve nine scoreboard-sized video screens lining a wall, flashing endless loops of English, engineering and dentistry highlights? If this type of display impresses athletes, surely it would impress those who excel in academics.

If the Alabama, Iowa or Nebraska athletic compounds increase the size or number of their jumbotron screens, will Minnesota be forced to pony up for bigger or brighter screens, too?

Tate Ferguson, Minneapolis

IMMIGRATION

Opposition has an answer, but not a good one, for everything

We have known all along that Trump supporters oppose allowing the tired and poor from nonwhite majority nations to immigrate to the United States. Now we learn (Readers Write, Jan. 18) that they magnanimously oppose accepting the “best and greatest” from these countries as well — for the good of those prospective immigrants’ own countries. How convenient.

Craig Laughlin, Plymouth

• • •

Did one of the Jan. 18 letter writers forget that much of our country was fixed — as he put it in suggesting what prospective immigrants should stay and do in their own countries — by immigrants who came here, working hard to “preserve our Constitution, laws and culture?” Many immigrants I have worked with are so very grateful to be here and want to give back. I challenge the letter writer and other people who have not had opportunities to interact with our immigrant populations to please do so. My experience is that most do not feel they are “owed” anything.

Paula Nelson, Plymouth

• • •

I just returned from Haiti in November. The Haitians’ slogan is: “This is our time.” I met many bright, energetic, enthusiastic students who are working hard to fulfill their dreams. Most of them speak at least three languages — English, French and Creole — and have faced many challenges to learning but continue to achieve. Integrity ran deep in their souls. The country faces many obstacles, but its people are up to the challenge.

In contrast, our public lands are being sold off. There is now offshore drilling allowed on all our shores with the exception of Florida (where, coincidently, Mar-a-Lago is located). The public discourse has deteriorated into swear words and insults. Integrity has turned into fake news and outright lies. Our former allies are turning away, finding new more inspirational leadership. Folks, I hate to break it to you, but we are becoming a sh--hole country.

Linda Bartlett, Lindstrom, Minn.

• • •

As I write, my son, a medical doctor at the HealthPartners’ Center for International Health in St. Paul; his wife, a professor and chair for the Peace and Justice Studies department at the University of St. Thomas; my wife, a retired elementary school teacher; my sister-in-law, a gynecologist and obstetrician in Duluth; 14 undergraduate students from the University of St. Thomas on a January Term course; and three of my precious granddaughters all are in Gulu, Uganda, East Africa, for the month of January. My son and his wife each year teach courses in both Uganda and at the University of Minnesota titled “Beyond the Biologic Basis of Disease: The Social and Economic Causation of Illness.” The course is taught to Ugandan and other international medical students, as well as to undergraduates from St. Thomas who are exploring medical career options. It advocates for implementing global health education and practices in pursuit of justice and equity throughout the world.

All of these people today are making an impact on one African community in the beautiful and welcoming country of Uganda, called “The Pearl of Africa.” Some people deride such African nations. Others are earnestly striving to make a difference in the lives and health of humans throughout the world by simply recognizing the dignity and respect deserved by all those living on our planet.

I know which of the two types of people I most admire.

Tom Westerhaus, Hudson, Wis.

FREE PARKING

Letter one: An individual need. Letter two: A societal influence.

So free grocery store parking is perceived as discrimination? (Opinion Exchange, Jan. 17.) When I purchase two heavy bags of groceries for $40 and place them in my car in the store’s parking lot on a freezing cold winter day, I perceive the free parking as an essential service for the store’s customers who are unable to walk or cart heavy groceries home on a bicycle. In fact, I would go elsewhere to shop if the parking was not free.

Arlene Fried, Minneapolis

• • •

I didn’t see Ian Klepetar, the author of the Jan. 17 commentary on parking, implying that Cub Foods is advocating for car use with its gas rewards program (Readers Write, Jan. 18), but just citing a more visible example of how businesses do provide financial support for private car use, and how ultimately customers who do not drive subsidize those who do. That’s just simple economics, which I found Klepetar’s description of thought-provoking. And while free/subsidized parking is clearly not something that one business can choose to avoid, it is something that a society as a whole might benefit from addressing, especially if we believe, for example, that “the future belongs to the efficient,” as an insulation company ad asserts.

Jim Dustrude, Mound

PROSECUTION

Contrast progress in Rochester case, Minneapolis police shooting

The Olmsted County Attorney’s Office filed charges within three days of the shooting that occurred after a traffic conflict in Rochester (“Man who shot teen after dare charged,” Jan. 18). Meanwhile, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman seems incapable of filing charges in the July 2017 shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond by a Minneapolis police officer, and it has been more than six months. Based on the news accounts of each, there does not appear to be a substantial difference in number of witnesses, uncertainties or questions of what happened at the scene. What’s going on?

William Ross, Plymouth