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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Graduate Students protest budget cuts

Baraha Elkhalil
The Arizona Board of Regents holds a meeting in the Grand Ballroom in the Student Union Memorial Center at the University of Arizona to discuss budget cuts on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015.

During the call to audience at Thursday’s Arizona Board of Regents meeting, a group of graduate students gathered in protest of the proposed budget cuts and had several representatives approach the board.

Various representatives of graduate students on campus and throughout the state of Arizona caused the time designated for the call to audience to go well past 15 minutes. The representatives were presidents for both the Graduate and Professional Student Council on campus and the Graduate and Professional Student Association at Arizona State University.

The amount of time and responsibility pressed upon graduate students during their required assistant hours, which they claimed took approximately 20 hours of their week, proved to be a hot topic among many representatives. Representatives noted that in addition to the commitment of being an assistant and a student, they often have to take other jobs to make a living wage.

Elena L’Annunziati, a graduate student studying Gender and Women’s studies, addressed the board regarding these concerns.

“Right now graduate students at the UA make under the minimum while often having to take on more than their paid hours to meet the needs of their students,” L’Annunziati said.

Kierstyn Tsosie, a graduate student studying Public Administration and Public Policy and a member of the Navajo tribe, focused on the reality of these issues as a Native American student.

“I’m grateful to even attend college,” Tsosie said, “even if the odds are against me — and I ask myself: How was I be able to get here, and I how will I be able to have my children go to college if tuition is to increase?”

Tsosie continued to inform the board that after paying so much money towards tuition, leaving her and others often with little for room and board, members of many tribes look to cultural centers for community support.

Another concern of representatives was an insufficient healthcare program for graduate students.

L’Annunziati said that the program they currently have does not significantly cover the cost of their healthcare.

Board Chair Mark Killian called for a 10 minute recess and requested that the group meet him in the foyer. He informed the individuals who had come to speak to the board of regents in regards to the budget cuts that the best they could do to seek changes was to contact legislature.

Killian further directed the group to speak with one of the student regents. However, this only prompted outrage from the group, who demanded that they be allowed to appoint an individual to speak for them — claiming, “we never voted for her.”

Zach Brooks, president of GPSC informed the group of protesters that GPSC was funding a trip to the capital for any who wish to discuss the budget cuts with legislature.
“These budget cuts have been and will continue to be decided without graduate student input,” L’Annunziati said.

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