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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Editorial: This week in higher education

This week, you were probably too busy with post-Super Bowl celebrations (or finding consolation, depending on who you were rooting for) to keep up with recent news in higher education. Here’s what you missed:

1 Pima Community College is still grappling with how to deal with students like Jared Loughner, the suspect behind the Jan. 8 shooting. Pima is offering three training workshops on “”Identifying and Responding to the Distressed Student.”” Its faculty senate has also discussed ways to deal with students exhibiting strange behavior.  

David Iadevaia, an instructor at Pima, said that “”if a student becomes unruly to the extent that an officer has to be called to the classroom then that student should be arrested and charged”” for disorderly conduct. The arrest would put the student “”in the system,”” and appear in a background check if the student attempted to legally purchase a firearm.

While solutions like this are well-intentioned, and show a commitment to students’ safety, they fail to address the real issue. An arrest may delay a troubled student from taking action, but it doesn’t require the student to seek help. If Pima and other college campuses want to meaningfully discuss how to prevent another shooting, they can’t dodge the problem of recognizing and treating students who need psychological evaluation.

2 One hundred faculty members at the University of California, Irvine signed a letter to Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. The letter calls on Rackauckas to drop criminal charges filed last week against 11 UCI students after they disrupted a speech being given on campus by the Israeli ambassador to the US. In the letter, the faculty recognized that the students, who were punished by the university, acted inappropriately. But the faculty also wrote, “”The use of the criminal justice system … sets a dangerous precedent for the use of the criminal law against non-violent protests on campus.””

The students face criminal conspiracy charges and six months of jail time if convicted. Prosecuting a bunch of college kids for a non-violent, peaceful protest when the university has already appropriately disciplined them would be unnecessary and a waste of time. More than that, the faculty of UCI gets it right: This is a matter for the university administration, not one for the criminal justice system.

3 Lawmakers in Utah are considering requiring college students who rack up more than their required number of units for graduation to pay more in tuition. The Utah Legislature is seeking to cut seven percent of state funding of higher education, and charging full tuition from students who take 120 percent of their required credits would cover that cut. Charging full tuition from these students would also act as an incentive for students to graduate in a timely fashion, said legislative fiscal analyst Spencer Pratt in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Fewer states could relate to trying to compensate for higher education budget cuts than Arizona. But Utah’s priorities are misplaced, and shift the burden of budget costs to their students. While not a new fad, it can’t be ignored. Students who accrue extra units while they’re in college are doing it for valid reasons: They’ve earned units in high school through concurrent enrollment or Advanced Placement classes, their career goals changed, they’re pursuing multiple majors or degrees or they’re genuinely curious.

In other words, they’re learning. Higher education isn’t free, but it should never feel like it costs more than its worth.

— Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board. They are Kristina Bui, Ken Contrata, Michelle A. Monroe and Heather Price-Wright. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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