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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Failed legislation brings relief

Failed+legislation+brings+relief

Campus leaders rejoiced after they helped force the failure of efforts to allow guns on campus or create a minimum tuition charge.

Senate Bill 1474 would have allowed firearms on college campuses around the state, sparking controversy among faculty and students alike. Student organizations such as the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and the Arizona Students’ Association held forums educating students on the issue, lobbied legislators and mailed letters of opposition to the bill’s sponsors. Had the bill passed, some leaders say it would have affected student recruitment.

“I think it would have impacted out-of-state recruiting since Arizona would have been seen as radical,” said James Allen, outgoing president of ASUA. “And a lot of parents would simply feel uncomfortable sending their kids to a school where they know there are students on campus carrying.”

ASUA conducted a three-day survey in February and asked several thousand students if they supported the measure. More than 80 percent of respondents said that they did not support it, and did not want concealed weapons to be carried on campus.

Student organizations were not alone in their opposition to SB 1474, as the Arizona Board of Regents also voiced concerns about the proposed legislation.

“The board remains resolute in its position that firearms, outside of those carried by law enforcement officials, do not have a place on university campuses,” said Katie Paquet, the regent’s associate vice president for public affairs. “Allowing firearms on campus could lead to an increase in dangerous and deadly situations for university students, staff and visitors.”

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Ron Gould, pulled the legislation due to lack of support among lawmakers. Once the bill left the floor, members of the UA community expressed their relief.

“I’m not a very big gun advocate and it’s very scary to think that someone can have guns on campus,” said Katlyn Grass, a political science junior. “I know people that would have brought guns and that would have made a lot more people suspicious and uncomfortable.”

House Bill 2675 would have placed a $2,000 minimum tuition charge on students who were not receiving a full-ride scholarship through academics or athletics.

“It would have severely impacted the ability of Arizona’s lower- and middle-income families to send their children to college,” Paquet said. “The economic success of our state is dependent on a highly-skilled, highly-educated workforce.”

Paquet said Arizonans need to have access to a high quality and affordable university education, and that in-state universities need to encourage efforts that would allow more students to go to college.

Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, who introduced the bill, said the idea came about when he was told that 48 percent of Arizona State University students pay no amount of tuition because of subsidies from the university. But before the House could vote on the bill, Kavanagh decided to withdraw it. Many were happy to see the measure go, including the UA President Eugene Sander.

“Those students who really need help, we don’t want to deny them access to the university based on some law that says they have to come up with $2,000 and we can’t help them,” Sander said. “It’s just plain lousy, lousy, lousy legislation.”

Sander also stressed the need for better state-based financial aid. Arizona gives its three universities the second-lowest amount of state based aid in the nation.

“We think it would be really nice, if in the future, Arizona would consider some sort of state-based financial aid that would help our students,” Sander said. “Hopefully, when the economy is looking better, that’d be something that I think all of us in the university system would like to see considered.”

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