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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Seven columns I never got to

    Ryan Johnsoncolumnist
    Ryan Johnson

    As an incoming freshman, everything at the UA seems so big and daunting. Over time, it’s just as big if less daunting. Despite a victory lap ninth semester, I couldn’t even come close to writing about everything I wanted to. So as I get ready for graduation and a year in Brazil, here are seven columns that didn’t quite make it off the Blackberry and into print:

    1. Tucson getting “”The corridor”” to rival Mill Avenue. I used to get so annoyed when people would complain about how boring Tucson is. With such a social atmosphere at the UA, how could going here possibly be boring? But I think most UA students have Mill Avenue envy. ASU’s famous street offers so much to do. Slowly but surely, the UA and Tucson are getting something special. Take a path from Main Gate down University Boulevard and then cut down Fourth Avenue and continue until Congress Street, heading west. Each of those three streets is getting more and more developed. With transportation increasingly linking them, this corridor will soon become our Mill Avenue.

    2. The dangers of the Helen and Mountain intersection. How many accidents did I see at this intersection? When I lived on East Helen Street, it seemed like there was at least one per week. North Mountain Avenue is so busy, especially at peak times, that it doesn’t make sense to allow cars on Helen to attempt a daring move to cross it. The simple answer is that crossing Mountain should be prevented with a sign. Restricting left-hand turns might be a good idea as well. Cars can just as easily drive up to one of the northern streets and then get across, and the accidents the restrictions would prevent would make it worth it.

    3.The UA needs to stress interdisciplinary initiatives. One of the benefits of attending a large research university is the breadth of strengths and resources. It’s a boon for students who have multiple interests and want to weave a web of knowledge. But sadly, each pocket of strength is more like a bubble than a link. Professors usually don’t collaborate with professors in other departments, and interdisciplinary programs are few and far between. The BIO5 Institute is a great example of the right idea, but how will the rest of campus be linked together?

    4.Pima is UA West. With so many students taking some of their UA requirements at one of the Pima Community College campuses – beginning accounting and statistics classes at Pima regularly have more UA students than Pima students – Pima is for some an extension of the UA. We should move to strengthen this relationship. It helps reduce class pressure at the UA, and maybe in some aspects Pima has resources that the UA doesn’t. Plus, a goal for Arizona is getting more community college students to transfer to four-year universities, and this would help.

    5.Math ignored for most at UA. I couldn’t believe how many students avoid math. People talk with horror about any math classes, and most non-science/engineering classes on campus are watered down as a result. Math such as algebra and basic calculus are helpful in understanding issues in many areas of society. The problem starts in high schools, and UA students enter unprepared and then avoid math altogether. The UA should require more math to get in, and professors should stop avoiding it.

    6.The UA should expand online presence. Classes as we know them are changing right before our eyes, and the UA needs to do more to be at the forefront. The University of California at Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other universities are increasingly putting their classes online. Stanford has its own section of downloads on iTunes. For the community to experience our best professors and to spread the UA word, the UA needs to expand its online presence.

    7.Rent UA resources to the community. The UA has a massive amount of useful infrastructure that is very valuable. It should leverage this by renting it to the community for productive uses. I love when I see the occasional wedding in the Student Union, or when an external conference is housed at the UA. Let’s take it further. Let big musical groups rent McKale Center – the University Activities Board doesn’t need to play any role. Just convince the volleyball team to practice in Bear Down for a day and use the $50,000 or $100,000 in revenue for something useful.

    Writing columns for the Daily Wildcat has been one of the best experiences I’ve had at the UA. I can’t tell you how much joy it was to run into a reader in class, at a party or somewhere else. Every letter, especially the critical ones, warmed my heart. Thank you.

    And with that, goodbye.

    Ryan Johnson is graduating this month with degrees in economics and international studies. He can be reached at His blog while abroad will be at

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