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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

The cost of real education

As I have seen in the last four years, the choice to enroll in a university is not just about picking the right school. By displacing themselves and moving to a new state, students make the conscious decision to immerse themselves in a new environment and broaden their horizons. 

The University of Arizona, placed in sunny Tucson, is a bastion for Arizona residents, California migrants and a whole host of students looking for almost a year’s worth of hot weather, bronzing sun and epic pool parties. Along with Arizona’s climate, students attend the UA for its status as a large research university. Being one of 35,000 undergrads is intimidating and disorienting, but utterly conducive to personal reflection and realization. 

Unfortunately, the future of the UA rests in the hands of the Arizona legislature, which lacks the resolute conviction to protect either our university’s quality or affordability. Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona legislature have cast their actions as forced or inevitable, claiming that there’s just not enough money to support the university system at past levels. The budget crises have made university cuts inevitable, but the legislature’s refusal to work at mitigating these cuts has uncovered its misplaced priorities and refusal to uphold its constitutional duties. 

In today’s politics, we have learned that every action takes up valuable time and resources, especially concerning the defunct Arizona state legislature. Recently, the state joined in a lawsuit against the federal government, accusing recent health care legislation of being unconstitutional. The suit is laughable for many reasons, none moreso than the hypocrisy of Arizona claiming to even know what constitutionality is. 

For Arizona to ethically allege unconstitutionality, it should have to abide by its own constitution as well. Unfortunately, the state’s inability to do so is the prime cause of the UA’s “”transformation”” difficulties and future prospects. The Arizona Constitution requires that education be “”as nearly free as possible,”” but tuition continually rises as educational resources plummet. The net-effect is that students are paying much more for much less. 

Taken separately, SB1070 and the health care lawsuit are embarrassing and arguably redundant. Taken together, the legislation prioritized by the legislature is unconscionable. The time, resources and rhetoric spent on these bills could have been devoted to a solution for higher education’s budget problems. Instead of fueling mass conspiracy, the legislature could have tried to uphold its constitutionally mandated duty of providing quality, low-cost education to students in Arizona. 

Arizona legislators, driven by a thirst for leadership, action and power, have reneged on their promises to the people of Arizona and other states who make the commitment to attend the UA. When students enroll at the UA, but lose a job or other means of financial support, their loss does not entitle them to pay diminished tuition. 

The Arizona legislature has abandoned the most critical principle of higher education — that is, “”as nearly free as possible.”” This principal has fueled the UA’s advancement by enrolling millions of students, who may have not been able to attend a major research university at the current rate of tuition. By spending time on ideologically-charged but practically-failing legislation, the legislature sends a message that education is the primary responsibility of the individuals, but far from that of the state.

As students, the information we learn from books, articles and papers comprise a myriad of data and incongruent research. We complete assignments, hoping to get a good grade and, quite possibly, learn something. As citizens, or “”real adults,”” the things we learn come rushing back to us, but with a different level of perception and application. No longer do we recite dates and numbers, but we relearn lessons. If there is one lesson that all students learn, it’s the idea of maintaining one’s principles and values in the face of hardship and easy alternatives. It’s also a lesson that the legislature has forgotten at an amnesiac rate.

 

— Dan Sotelo is a political science senior. He can be reached at

letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

 

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