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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Call to audience’ turns into battle against budget cuts

    The Arizona Board of Regent meeting Thursday looked more like a public protest than a board meeting.

    An estimated 900 students, faculty and community members attended the meeting in the north ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center to protest the budget-cut proposals by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

    Some attendees held up black and white banners reading expressions like “”Goodbye quality education,”” “”Keep Our State Alive”” and “”40 percent = Death.””

    The “”call to the audience”” which is ceremoniously conducted at the beginning of each board meeting, had more than 30 people in line waiting to voice their opinions on the massive budget cuts.

    Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. Chief Scientific Officer and Medical Director Dr. Tom Grogan, Regent Fred Duval and Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Tommy Bruce, as well as many other key business leaders, community members, faculty and students, all waited to voice their opinion.

    Grogan said Ventana Medical Systems is fueled by the UA, and is constantly growing. They count on the UA to produce top graduates to join their highly educated personnel.

    “”Innovation comes from highly educated, technology proficient people – the U of A is a wellspring of these people,”” Grogan said. “”To come to the current problem, I see the U of A as a solution and not as a problem,””

    He said that the UA is the “”crown jewel”” of Arizona’s economic assets.

    “”I contend that in the 21st century, more wealth will come from the frontal cortex of man than from minerals in the ground,”” Grogan said.

    He said that the UA ranks in the top 20 science universities, and students have a decided advantage in the job market upon graduating from the UA.

    In any economic decline, Grogan said that it is necessary to make streamline cuts and reassess details, but save as much as possible.

    “”For the sake of future science-based Arizona businesses like Ventana, I suggest we cut a few toes – but please, let’s not cut the feet we are standing on.””

    ASUA President Tommy Bruce said he was at a loss for words when it came to describing the proposed cuts by the budget committee, because there are no words strong enough or powerful enough to explain the dire situation at hand.

    “”Can you imagine how disheartening it is for students to hear that their elected officials don’t believe in the value of their education?”” Bruce said. “”We have been told since we were born that education is our future – that we should go onto higher education so that we can be successful, so that we can prosper and so that we can make our world better. And now our elected officials are saying, ‘It is not important to us.'””

    Bruce said that over the course of 18 years, and more than 20 budget cuts, the state of Arizona has slowly chipped away at the foundation of the universities – and now they are going for the final blow.

    “”We cannot – and will not – stand for this,”” Bruce said.

    He said a cut proposal like this says the legislature does not care that Arizona consistently ranks at the bottom of education in the United States, and that the state’s financial aid program is the most “”pathetic”” in the country.

    Bruce continued that these cuts would dismantle the universities beyond recognition, to the point that they would no longer be viable entities.

    “”This is our responsibility; it’s the students’, the faculty’s, the staff’s, the administration, the Board of Regents, the community members, the business leaders’, the state of Arizona’s responsibility to save the future of our state,”” Bruce said.

    Following the meeting, Bruce said ASUA would be organizing a trip to the state’s capitol in Phoenix on Wednesday, Jan. 28, with the intent of protesting the proposed budget cuts to the legislature. He said he wants as many students as possible to attend.

    Bruce said the state legislatures will be hearing from the entire state of Arizona.

    “”I can damn well promise that the students will be a deafeningly loud voice at that capital!””

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