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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Daily Wildcat reviews year’s top 10 stories

    1. Freshman slain in Graham-Greenlee

    A dispute between two roommates over a stolen Social Security card, CatCard and $500 led to the murder of Mia Henderson, a biology freshman and resident of the Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall.

    Galareka Harrison, a public administration freshman, is accused of stabbing Henderson 21 times after Henderson filed a property theft report against her.

    Both students were in the UA First-Year Scholars Program aimed at promoting the retention of American Indian students.

    According to court documents, after Henderson filed a police report on Aug. 28 accusing Harrison of theft, Harrison became upset and bought a knife on the way back to the UA campus that morning.

    She then allegedly authored a suicide note pretending to be Henderson and left it on her desk.

    While Henderson was asleep, Harrison stabbed her multiple times, according to court documents.

    Harrison then went next door to get help and a resident assistant called police at 5:45 a.m.

    The University of Arizona Police Department responded to a call that Harrison and Henderson were fighting and that both had been stabbed, according to police documents.

    Both women were taken to University Medical Center. Henderson was pronounced dead on arrival and Harrison suffered minor injuries and was arrested following her release, according to police records.

    Harrison has pled not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and is being held at Pima County Jail on $500,000 bond.

    The trial is set for Sept. 9.

    2. UA leads mission to Mars

    The Phoenix Mars Lander launched before the start of fall classes and will reach Mars’ surface after spring finals conclude.

    Nonetheless, the UA has been embroiled in a special space mission as the first publicly funded institution to lead a journey to the Red Planet.

    The $420 million project is set to earn the university as much as $60 million, but the greater consequences lie in a couple of crucial questions scientists have pondered ad infinitum.

    Has or did water ever exist on Mars? Could the planet hold human life?

    The Lander is expected to reach the planet’s surface in the late afternoon on May 25. Students are invited to track the spacecraft’s descent through Mars’ atmosphere from the UA Mall, but regardless, the world will be eagerly awaiting the results as taken through onboard cameras.

    Thereafter, a multitude of instruments will allow the Lander to analyze soil for salt and organic materials, clues of water past and perhaps present.

    Peter Smith, a senior research scientist at the UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, has spearheaded the local preparations all year, and he anticipates discoveries as never before seen or imagined.

    “”It’s thrilling. It is a truly historic event,”” Smith said. “”Nobody can predict how our pictures are going to look when we get there. It’s the thrill of exploration.””

    3. Olson, interrupted

    Much of the fanfare around Lute Olson’s surprise leave of absence from the UA men’s basketball team this season centered on whether interim head coach Kevin O’Neill could guide the Wildcats back to the NCAA Tournament, or far therein.

    But at the core of his absence lay the reality that perhaps the most identifiable aspect of the university for the last quarter-century was gone … for presumably only a few months, but perhaps forever.

    Rumors abounded in local and national media trying to explain his sudden departure, many pointing to Olson’s age, 73, and the circumstances, mostly unknown, behind his divorce from his wife, Christine.

    In the meantime, the question arose of how – or if – Olson’s considerable salary, one of the largest among state employees, should be paid.

    Athletic director Jim Livengood named O’Neill as Olson’s successor in January, eventually giving O’Neill a $725,000 annual salary.

    Then, after Olson officially returned to the team in April, O’Neill was transferred to a fundraising role within the athletic department, no longer in the UA’s head coaching picture.

    When he made his first public comments since taking his leave April 1, Olson refused to elaborate on why he abruptly vanished, not unlike his team from this year’s tournament.

    The public is still longing for a number of answers as Olson prepares for his 26th season at the UA, apparently refreshed and ready to go as though nothing happened.

    4. Shootings inspire new safety measures

    In light of a fatal shooting at Northern Illinois University in February and last year’s Virginia Tech massacre, the university spent the year adding what they hope will be safeguards in the case of an on-campus emergency.

    In October, the university introduced UA Alert, which is designed to send out text messages to registered members of the campus community in event of extraordinary events.

    The service kept people in the know during an hour-long, campus-wide power outage April 17 and throughout the rest of the day.

    The University of Arizona Police Department added long-range rifles to their emergency response arsenal this semester.

    Although UAPD officials insisted the move wasn’t a direct response to the VT and NIU incidents, Police Chief Anthony Daykin mentioned an on-campus shooting as one situation where the rifles would be employed.

    This spring, the state Legislature saw a bill that would allow concealed weapons to be carried on university campuses, among other educational settings.

    At least one UA student group, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, lobbied for its passing.

    James Knitter, a pre-physiology sophomore, said he applied to have the group created two days after the NIU shooting.

    “”The empty holster is symbolic for current policies tying our hands behind our backs,”” Knitter said. “”With students that carry everywhere else, why should the campus be any different?””

    5. Budget woes loom

    Institutions statewide were forced to face the beginning of a two-plus year budget crisis in Arizona that could threaten the quality of academic programs at the UA.

    State legislators for months threw up estimates of the state being at least $1 billion in debt for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, and the outlook could be twice as bad for 2009-2010.

    The UA chopped $5.6 million from its 2008-2009 budget in a move long anticipated by UA President Robert Shelton, who believes the losses won’t greatly impact the quality of academic services.

    Before the cuts on Feb. 21, Shelton announced that the university would limit hiring to people deemed critical for university function through the end of the fiscal year in June.

    The UA and other officials statewide are bracing for bigger cuts for 2009-2010, although neither estimated figures nor what campus programs or services might be affected were clear at press time.

    To allay the state’s budget woes in future years, the state’s three university presidents proposed a $1.4 billion economic stimulus plan in April that would aim to boost a sagging construction industry with a variety of multi-million-dollar projects at the UA, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.

    Business leaders have hopped on in support, but some legislators believe the financial investment is unrealistically high.

    6. Kanye concert to start tradition?

    Rapper Kanye West’s April 24 performance on campus was the first time a musician had played McKale Center since country star Garth Brooks in 1996.

    The show enlisted all the negotiating savvy Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Tommy Bruce and special-events coordinator Andrew Stanley could muster, and the end result was arguably the biggest UA event in more than a decade.

    Despite costing more than $500,000, the concert projects to be a financial success – official figures won’t be available until after finals – and Bruce, bolstered, wants to bring a high-profile act to McKale every year.

    The student government appears to be up to the task, having also brought in recognized performers such as Plain White T’s and Ghostface Killah this year.

    But McKale’s availability, crimped by basketball games and other athletic events scheduled year-round, is only one daunting obstacle. The venue, opened in 1973, also lacks a loading dock, which forces the manual movement of heavy equipment.

    Should ASUA nonetheless prevail, it could help to raise Tucson from the wreckage of potential tour stops scorned. It might also elevate the reputation of the governing body in the eyes of students, some of who have complained of ASUA’s lack of service to its constituents.

    7. Loss of parking spaces

    In order to make space for new residence halls on the southwest and southeast corners of campus, Parking and Transportation Services will lose 1,000 parking spaces.

    Losing spaces is not new for PTS as they have lost 2,723 parking spaces in the last eight years, said director Patrick Kass.

    PTS will add 300 to 400 new spaces in Zone 1 and South of Sixth Street lots, but the university is still estimated to lose 1,200 more spaces by next semester because of new residence halls and the Student Recreation Center expansion project.

    PTS is hoping that constructing new lots and garages will help ease the strain of losing spaces, but the rate of building new lots and garages outweighs the loss of spaces by the university’s construction projects.

    As a way to gauge how the UA community feels toward parking, PTS held a forum to gather opinions and suggestions.

    Some of the options PTS is considering to fix the parking problem for the future are increasing parking costs, prohibiting freshmen from bringing cars to campus and not issuing parking permits to students living on campus.

    PTS is also looking into building a new garage on the south side of campus, Kass said.

    8. Ariz. Senate passes textbook bill

    After months of deliberation, editing and lobbying, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano officially signed the textbook bill that would require textbook publishers to disclose information on prices and changes in editions.

    The Arizona Students’ Association and the Associated Students of the University of Arizona lobbied heavily through the UA Faculty Senate, the Arizona Board of Regents, the Arizona House Higher Education Committee and the state Legislature to get Bill 1175 onto the governor’s desk.

    “”This legislation is a result of the high cost of textbooks on college campuses,”” said ASUA President Tommy Bruce. “”Another aspect includes working with textbook publishers that gives us the opportunity to lower the cost to students.””

    Michael Slugocki, vice chair of ASA, said the passage of the law was significant in lowering textbook prices.

    The state Legislature in March amended the bill that would require publishers to comply with policies set by the Arizona Board of Regents or the state’s community colleges.

    Slugocki said having the state Legislature amend the bill was an example of students making a difference.

    Now that the state Legislature passed the bill, the Make Textbooks Affordable Campaign, a campaign whose goal is to lower textbook prices, is using it as a model to show how students can successfully pass textbook legislation.

    9. A double dose of Bruce

    Having dealt with bringing Kanye West to the UA, picking a new senator and getting reelected, ASUA President Tommy Bruce has been busy.

    Bruce ran unopposed for the ASUA presidency and after getting elected is the only president to hold two terms in UA history, said Claudia Davilla, adviser for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.

    “”I’m thrilled for the opportunity and I knew that I couldn’t pass it up because there is the ability to grow our organization and the projects we’re working on,”” said Bruce, a marketing junior. “”We run into the high turnover during the transition period. This is a good chance to complete a lot of these projects.””

    One of those projects was bringing hip-hop artist Kanye West to McKale Center on April 24 and Bruce said obstacles to getting acts to play at the UA could easily be overcome.

    Aside from having to deal with the negotiations of having to bring such a huge act to campus, Bruce has also lobbied for the textbook bill, lowering tuition and has had to deal with the unexpected departure of Sen. James Pennington-McQueen.

    10. Tuition on the rise

    The Arizona Board of Regents approved UA President Robert Shelton’s tuition increase on Dec. 6.

    Starting in the 2008-09 school year, tuition for undergraduate residents will increase by $450 to $5,274, a 9 percent increase. Out-of-state tuition increased by $2,350 to $18,408, a 15 percent increase.

    Resident graduate tuition also increased $520 and $2,350 for nonresident graduate students.

    Discussions of a tuition freeze were also heard, but because of less than ideal support from the state Legislature, a tuition freeze was out of the question.

    “”We had no place to go,”” said Regent Ernest Calderon, who has typically voted in support of students. “”Three out of five years that I’ve been on this board, I have always voted with students, but if I voted for the freeze, we’d have to cut student activities, funding groups, etc.””

    Talks of keeping tuition rates constant for a student’s four years in college was also discussed this year as a way to keep costs down.

    Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University have fixed tuition rates. NAU has fixed tuition for the next four years and ASU fixed tuition with a 15 percent increase next year, then a 5 percent increase for the next three years.

    The UA may see fixed tuition rates when the Regents set tuition this fall.

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