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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ASA prepares efforts to lobby new state Legislature for funds

    The Arizona Students’ Association board is continuing to push for increases in financial aid dollars, statewide increases in funds to universities and greater student involvement at this year’s state Legislature, which began its session Monday.

    Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Erin Hertzog, an ASA director, said that in the past, ASA’s two focuses in the spring were tuition and lobbying.

    “”(We were) lobbying in terms of testifying, fighting bills and getting the Legislature to vote on bills that affect college students,”” Hertzog said.

    But tuition was decided in the fall this year, so ASA directors can focus their efforts on student issues at the state Legislature, Hertzog said.

    Last year, ASA directors received an increase in funds with the Arizona Financial Aid Trust Fund, which helped to increase financial aid for students.

    “”We were pretty successful, specifically with people going up to talk about AFAT,”” said Paul Thorn, Graduate and Professional Student Council president and an ASA director. “”There was a heightened alertness over tuition and state funding from students.””

    Although ASA directors succeeded in getting $5 million for AFAT, they want the state to make AFAT funding a guarantee and not part of the budget-setting process, Hertzog said.

    ASA lobbied the Legislature last year to have the state match funds students contribute every year at a two-to-one ratio to AFAT as mandated by the state. But the Legislature is not required to match, and has not matched, students’ contributions.

    “”There is a lot of data showing that Arizona is one of the worst states in the country in providing financial aid to students,”” Thorn said.

    In the past, Arizona college students have contributed $1 to AFAT, while the state only contributed five cents, Hertzog said.

    ASA is also looking into increasing funding for the three state universities.

    “”State funding is crucial to the health education at all three of the universities,”” Thorn said.

    Another issue ASA directors want to address is the increased tech fee for students at all three state universities. The decision was postponed until a later board of regents meeting. The tech fee increase proposed for the UA was $65.

    “”Opposition from students and the Associated Students of the University of Arizona had the effect of postponing (the regents’) decision until January but was later changed to March,”” Thorn said.

    The regents and administrators will have to have a discussion about the rationale of the tech fee. It will also be an effort to try to have communication with the administration, students and tech fee people, Thorn said.

    Censorship in Arizona universities has also become a focus for ASA directors, specifically the issue of the Academic Bill of Rights, which prescribes that students have a right to refuse to be taught with material that is offensive, Thorn said.

    If the Academic Bill of Rights is posed in a way that favors censorship, it will enforce that instructors must provide an alternate source of material for the student to take a test on or write an essay about, Thorn said.

    In contrast to previous years, ASA will be putting more focus on student involvement this semester.

    “”We are hoping to come up with unconventional ways to increase student voice and to get students united in campaigning,”” Hertzog said. “”We want to get new ways of busing large groups of students to the Legislature and begin a letter-writing campaign asking key Legislature to support increases in funds to universities.””

    The November elections are also seen positively by ASA, as key players entered or left the Legislature.

    “”We have had strong years in the past, but with the new Legislature we’ll surely see better results,”” Hertzog said.

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