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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Despite past blunders, ASUA better than public opinion”

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona is the recipient of much of this campus’s harsh criticism.

Is ASUA deserving of its criticisms? As a current ASUA senator and one finishing my second year of involvement within the organization, I hope to tackle this issue in the most balanced manner I can and offer a different perspective on everything.

First, let me say this very plainly, last year’s concert was ASUA’s fault. I apologize to all students. Allow me to illuminate the topic at large.

April 2009, ASUA put on the Last Smash Platinum Bash. It was the first concert held in Arizona Stadium since Fleetwood Mac in 1977. The show bill held The Veronicas, Third Eye Blind, Kelly Clarkson and Jay-Z. It was designed with the hopes of attracting students of all musical interests, which in theory sounds appealing.

Things did not pan out the way those organizing it had planned. ASUA went a million dollars in the red. This was upsetting for students, and rightfully so. I was upset as well.

There are a few things to take into account with this loss. First, all members of ASUA were not involved in the decision-making process for the concert. As per contracts and the money involved, things remained confidential until negotiations were completed, leaving most ASUA members uninformed of the event at all. I understand that acknowledging backroom activity doesn’t necessarily help improve the stance of the organization. However, these activities have been addressed and appropriate actions have been taken to ensure debacles like the Last Smash Platinum Bash never occur again, actions include financial limitations, increased cooperation and collaboration with campus entities and UA Presents.

ASUA is a huge office, with students working on a variety of different things. Though ASUA works collectively on the “”day of”” operations for events, our day-to-day operations function very independently.

Let’s look at the event’s financial ramifications. Some are under the impression that students footed the bill. This is not the case. ASUA had reserve funds, around $350,000, that were depleted in payment. U of A BookStores picked up the rest as a loan to ASUA. ASUA’s payments are made annually in the hundreds of thousands for the next five years. U of A BookStores have assured all students that this deal has not and will not affect the prices students pay in stores. Despite substantial cuts to our operational budget, ASUA has not reduced the quality of any of our services. Aptly so, special events received the largest cut. Such ventures put too many other necessary programs at risk.

Rumors and misinformation have been dispelled; does ASUA deserve the harsh criticism it often receives? No, though ASUA is absolutely and undoubtedly deserving of criticism. Government needs criticism to maintain focus, to ensure its mission and to improve where needed.

ASUA’s negative image as a whole is unfounded. ASUA provides some exceptionally positive and highly impactful services to the university that go seemingly unappreciated. The Arizona Students’ Association fights consistently for students on everything from textbook costs to tuition to educational legislative reform. They win victories for students everyday, and it’s saddening to see their work overlooked. Additionally, the Students for Sustainability work tirelessly on initiative after initiative. Safe Ride transports hundreds safely every night. They run a premier student taxi service with less funding and resources than most other universities. ASUA appropriates over $150,000 to clubs and organizations across campus, helping clubs compete and represent the university across the region and country, among others.

It’s these types of great things that happen everyday in ASUA, in addition to concerts; for this reason, frustration festers with the uninformed and angry students who look past these grand things only to see negativity. Those upset with the concert have a gripe to be made and it has been heard. The criticism has been heard and appropriate responses have been taken.

It’s only appropriate that I tell of my experience in ASUA. I began an outsider. I heard many negative sentiments in relation to ASUA. I fell into ASUA. I applied to be the University Activities Board’s Special Events Chair. Once accepted, they reorganized the Center for Student Involvement & Leadership and the board moved into ASUA’s Programs and Services. ASUA’s air was definitely tangibly different from that of CSIL. It was new to me. Like any organization, there are two types of people; those who are involved for the right reasons and those for the wrong. These two types of people are what I attribute ASUA’s awkward energy to. There are those who are truly working with their “”nose to the grindstone”” for students in the dark corners of the student union. ASUA has offered me more opportunity than any other organization on campus. I have truly grown as a person and a leader. The highlight of my collegiate career has been my senate term.

The types of criticisms that paint ASUA in one color seem to only come from those cynical nay-sayers that stand from street corners and protest for change, yet never take a step inside, never attempt to understand that which they protest. As an ASUA senator, I have worked to increase transparency and we have taken positive strides. ASUA’s budget is now posted online with monthly updates on spending. ASUA senate meeting minutes are now online at the senate Web site. We have extended our outreach and communication through the rekindling of relationships with entities around campus, including the Residence Hall Association, among others. ASUA must change, indeed. It will change, over time. However, this process will be slow and can only happen with the help of those in ASUA and those it serves being in the process together, a collective body working towards a brighter future.

— Tyler Quillin is a junior majoring in English and philosophy and a current ASUA senator. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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