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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Keep fighting the good fight

I feel like I’m graduating just in time.

Maybe that’s unkind to say, because so many Wildcats, people I know have amazing intelligence, potential and chutzpah, have several months or years before graduating. To those people: Take advantage of your remaining time in college; it’ll be startlingly short, I promise.

But still, as exciting as the last four years have been, I can’t help but thank my lucky stars that I’m getting out of here when I am. Because the last four years have gotten increasingly nasty, as our fair state’s leaders get more and more hostile toward higher education.

Tuition, of course, has been rising each year and is set to hit a ridiculous high — about $10,000 for in-state students, more if you’re from out of state — in the next academic year. Those tuition hikes are a far cry from the promise of public education that is “”as nearly free as possible,”” but it’s hard to blame the administration or Arizona Board of Regents. With the massive budget cuts to education, what else were they supposed to do? It would be easy to find a scapegoat in the people who have to make the tough choice to increase our tuition over and over again, but I truly believe those people care about students and about education, and are doing their best with scant resources.

No, the culprit is, of course, the state Legislature and a governor willing to go along with most of its hair-brained, mean-spirited schemes. And it’s not just about money, though that’s the most tangible expression of the state’s disdain for higher education.

What really stings, and what I feel the need to escape, is the disdain itself. The worst part of being a college student in today’s Arizona is feeling so completely unwanted by your elected officials, those who are supposed to represent you, support you and wish for your success. Guess what: They don’t.

It feels like higher education in Arizona’s political climate today is seen as a dark mark. A college degree means, to state leaders, that a person is elitist, that a person thinks he or she is better than other people. It’s a sign of weakness, of “”liberalness”” in an overblown, pejorative sense. As university students, we of course know otherwise, and know, furthermore, that UA students don’t all share anything close to the same political ideology. But that doesn’t matter. This state has made it pretty clear that it doesn’t want us — educated, thinking young people — around, mucking up its crazed agenda.

So yes, I’m glad I’m getting out of here. But I also have a message, one I think is deeply important, for those of you who still have time left at the UA: Keep fighting.

You are not powerless or useless, no matter what the state government wants you to believe. You are getting an education, which is something of which you should be proud. You are part of an institution with a rich history and an amazing tradition of research and higher learning. You have a right to your education, you deserve your education and no one gets to tell you otherwise. No one.

Young people sometimes feel powerless in the face of decisions they’re not asked to be a part of, decisions that affect them but in which they have no voice. But think about the student movements of the late 1960s. Think about this year, the “”Arab Spring.”” Think about the young people in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and now Syria and elsewhere. Young people with something to believe in have a power, a fire even the Arizona Legislature can’t put out. Fight for your education; fight for your state.

We seniors are leaving behind something of a mess, but I have enormous faith in the classes to come. My fondest hope is that I get to watch, jealous, wishing I were part of the action, as the rest of you take back your school and your state.

Good luck, and Bear Down, Arizona.

 

— Heather Price-Wright is the assistant arts editor for the Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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