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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

GPSC begins election debates

Current members and hopeful candidates of the UA Graduate and Professional Student Council gathered at the Auld Dubliner Irish Pub and Restaurant Friday to discuss the upcoming election.

Among those present were 2010-11 GPSC presidential candidates Emily Connally and Mabel Crescioni and vice presidential candidates Alison Betts and Farah Sutton.

Connally, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, has been on the council in the past and is running for president to help restore the working relationship between GPSC and UA’s administration.

Connally cited rising fees and tuition costs, more interdisciplinary collaboration and keeping classes from growing larger to increase revenue as issues she would focus on as GPSC president.

“”I think students don’t realize the power they have to affect how the university runs, and how it affects them,”” Connally said.

Crescioni, a graduate student in the College of Public Health, has been on the council as a representative for her college for the past two years. Along with the ongoing fee and tuition issues, Crescioni stressed maintaining healthy ties with ASUA and addressing graduate student workloads as major components of her platform.

“”My experience on the council has shown me the effect we can have on graduate student experience,”” Crescioni said.

Crescioni also discussed her position on fees and tuition.

“”Being a competitive research institution requires an investment in funds,”” she said. “”What we don’t have to accept is that the sole responsibility of bearing this burden lies with the student body. We have to find a balance between maintaining competitiveness and bearing the burden.””

GPSC President David Lopez-Negrete asked both presidential candidates whether the UA should privatize some of its programs to spare them from state budget cuts.

“”Higher education should be a right, not a privilege afforded to those who can pay for it,”” Crescioni said. “”Arizona needs to shift (its) priorities to understand that higher education is not just a bottom-line cost, it’s something that can advance your society.””

Connally, while agreeing with Crescioni’s sentiment, said privatization is not necessarily a bad thing.

“”I’m not entirely against going private,”” Connally said. “”If we did go private, it would allow us to ensure a better undergraduate class, and it would offer us a lot of opportunities we don’t currently have. In a lot of ways anyway, with the lack of support we receive financially from the state, we’re very close to being an ill-functioning private university anyway.””  

Both GPSC vice-presidential candidates also presented their platforms and answered questions from the audience Friday.

Betts, a graduate student in the College of Humanities, has served as GPSC’s  chief of staff in the past.

“”Through all of my experiences I’ve learned a lot about how the university works,”” Betts said. “”This gives me the knowledge necessary to advocate the concerns of graduate students on campus.”” 

Betts also stressed her concern with the UA’s lack of childcare for employees.

“”The University of Arizona is the only school in the Pac-10 that doesn’t provide on-site childcare for employees,”” Betts said. “”Health and childcare are big issues graduate students face. Trying to ensure the health and safety of their dependents shouldn’t force them to face astronomical costs.””

Sutton, a higher education graduate student, also mentioned childcare as one of her top priorities. Sutton discussed the importance of maintaining UA’s status as a top-tier research university.

“”We need to work tirelessly to maintain our level of academic excellence in a way that sustains our reputation as a university,”” Sutton said. “”A degree doesn’t mean much if your university’s reputation is not good.””

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