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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Education dictated by politics threatens student input

Politics and education should never mix, especially in Arizona. Politics in Arizona continue to attempt to defeat any availability of student representation at the state level. What did the UA even lobby for at the state level last week? If it was for our education, it looks like the fight isn’t over. Complacency needs to end here or else we’ll have to sit tight for new university governance controlled by politicians.  

The most recent development in the political advancement to wash out student voice is in a bill proposal by Republican Sen. Andy Biggs, sponsor of the bill to cut state spending on Medicaid assistance and now the sponsor of Senate Bill 1115. This bill states that the members of the Arizona Appropriations Committee will abolish the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees all universities in Arizona. The purpose is to “”provide new funding mechanisms for the higher education system,”” according to the official document.

Currently, Arizona universities have two student regents that sit in on ABOR decisions and have voting opportunities after serving for one year. Nowhere in the official document of S.B. 1115 does it say student representation will cross over to this new proposed Board of Trustees.

Instead, the state governor would become the appointee of all board members. That means Gov. Jan Brewer, the same person that has cut $170 million from higher education and has left 280,000 people in Arizona without health insurance, would be in charge of the board member selection process. She cut coverage for 98 organ transplant patients enrolled in Medicaid last year, making her decisions the indirect causes of deaths. Because of these cuts, she will save the state $1.15 billion next year. These are just two of her strongest moments of sticking up for the values of human lives and students in Arizona.

To steer away from Brewer not having any heart, it seems as though we have another fan of this Board of Trustees idea. House Appropriations Chairman John Kavanagh noted in an interview with the Arizona Republic that, “”Students perhaps could contribute something to their education costs, and the state budget cuts aren’t as harmful to students as the universities suggest.””  

According to ABOR’s Academic Affairs Financial Aid Report for 2011, the average amount of undergraduate student debt upon graduation went up from $19,110 to $19,946 in the past year. The average amount of graduate student debt also increased from $36,190 to $42,097. But according to Kavanagh, students wouldn’t mind adding a couple grand to those lifetime-long debts. Behind our backs, state politicians are excluding our voices, making decisions without student recognition and we never pick apart the urgency of understanding their logic. There’s too much nonsensical rhetoric. It’s meant to be that way or else Arizona Students’ Association leaders wouldn’t be taking nice portrait pictures and having catered lunches with the governor, but giving it to her straight and simple: Quit neglecting your duty to listen to us.

We should be beyond these aesthetic relationships with leaders who never prove their loyalty to our education. Arizona politicians think they can manage to slip these bills right under our noses because we never show them our distrust. We institutionalize our sincere frustrations with insincere gestures of professionalism by compromising. This time, students can’t afford compromise. When are students going to be done playing nice with politicians? That tactic has never worked, that’s why we never get what we want as a collective student voice. We’re in a state that places their radically conservative values before the accessibility and affordability of education each year. The infantilism of Arizona’s political experience is outrageous, ignorant and exploitive to its students. It’s about time we demand something real: representation.

— Elisa Meza is a junior studying English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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