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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Top 10 News Stories of the Year

1. Jan. 8 shooting, Obama visits campus

A mass shooting at a “”Congress on Your Corner”” event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson left six dead, including federal Judge John Roll, and 13 wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, on Jan. 8.

Giffords was shot in the head and rushed to University Medical Center, her intern and UA political science junior Daniel Hernandez provided life-saving medical attention at the scene.

The start of classes were delayed a day after the shooting and President Barack Obama came to address the Tucson community in McKale Center during the memorial service “”Together We Thrive: Tucson and America.””

Jared Lee Loughner, accused of the shootings, pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Loughner faces a 49-count federal indictment that includes the attempted assassination of Giffords, attempting to kill two of her aides and the murders of Roll and Gabe Zimmerman, one of Giffords’ staffers.

Since the life-threatening injury, Giffords has made a rapid recovery and is slated to see her husband’s, astronaut Mark Kelly, launch aboard the NASA shuttle Endeavour.

2. Tuition increases … again

The controversy of tuition and how it would affect families and students dominated the Arizona Board of Regents’ discussion about whether to accept the tuition and fee proposals put before them by the three university presidents: Robert Shelton of the UA, Michael Crow of Arizona State University and John Haeger of Northern Arizona University.

In the end, the regents approved a tuition increase with the amendment that each UA resident undergraduate student receive a $750 rebate funded by more than $16 million of the UA’s reserve funds.

This means that, though UA resident undergraduate students would still see a $1,500 increase in tuition next year, each of those students will receive a financial aid award to offset half of that increase.

Non-resident tuition will increase by $600 to $24,574, a 2.5 percent increase from last year.

3. ASUA presidential race results in special election

Two presidential candidates for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, James Allen and Daniel Hernandez, were disqualified from the ASUA general election held on March 9 due to an excess of campaign violations.

As a result, ASUA Elections Commissioner Michael Colletti said a special election would be held to determine the ASUA presidency.

Allen and Hernandez each appealed their violations to the ASUA Supreme Court. Both candidates had enough of their violations overturned by the court to fall below the threshold for automatic disqualification, though the court gave Colletti the authority to determine whether either of the candidates should be reinstated. He decided to reinstate Hernandez, but not Allen, who had prevailed in the general election by a 2 to 1 vote margin.

Allen and Hernandez appealed to the Supreme Court again on April 7. Allen appealed for reinstatement into the race, which would make him the winner. The court disagreed and upheld his initial disqualification. Hernandez appealed on two fronts, first to say he should be declared the winner of the election and second that, if Allen remained disqualified and a special election became necessary, Allen should be barred from running again. The court disagreed on both points.

As a result, ASUA held a special election on April 21, featuring Hernandez, Allen and three new candidates. After a day of voting, James Allen was declared the new ASUA president, winning by virtually the same margin he had in the general election more than a month earlier. He was inaugurated along with the rest of the ASUA-elects on May 2.

4. Retirement buyouts become a budget cut solution

To cope with impending budget cuts, the UA began offering a voluntary retirement incentive program that awards employees with a year’s salary for retiring at the end of the academic year or summer session. The plan saves the university money because not all employees’ jobs will be filled. The program applies to 250 faculty and staff. J. Jefferson Reid, a university distinguished professor of anthropology, thought the program could be effective, though he said the offer came too suddenly for serious consideration.

“”It would be good if they could get people with very high salaries to retire,”” he said.

Reid said professors who love their work would probably continue teaching.

“”I enjoy what I do so much,”” he said. “”Retirement might even be scary.””

5. Pedestrian predicaments

Several traffic accidents left students with life-threatening injures this year.

In October, Peter Raisanen, nutritional sciences senior, was taken to the hospital after being struck by a streetlight while waiting to cross the street.

The 19-year-old driver of a maroon Jeep Cherokee was heading east on Sixth Street approaching Highland Avenue. There was a green traffic light for cars traveling from east to west, and one vehicle was attempting to turn south onto Highland Avenue, said Sgt. David Fernandez, a Tucson Police Department officer who was at the scene of the accident.

The vehicle stopped in the middle of the road as pedestrians were walking in the crosswalk. The Cherokee went onto the sidewalk and hit a pole in an attempt to avoid hitting the stopped vehicle. The Cherokee knocked the pole over, and it hit Raisanen.

“”The kid was waiting to walk across, and the car hit the pole and the pole hit the kid,”” said Sara Morvay, a UA student who saw the accident’s aftermath. “”I walked out right as the pole fell. The ambulance got here right away.

“”I saw the side of his body, it was all bloody and limp. Then the kid screamed,”” she said as she imitated the scream. “”I’ve never heard anybody scream like that before.””

Also in October, a car hit Jennifer Miller, a political science graduate student, while she was crossing Sixth Street near Highland Avenue and in the same week another female student was hit while walking north in the crosswalk on Mountain Avenue, said UAPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Juan Alvarez.

In December, a 21-year-old female UA student was hit by a car at the Mountain Avenue and Speedway Boulevard intersection and pinned up against the Computer Center building, according to Tucson Police officials.

In April, a 22-year-old male UA student was struck by a car in the intersection of Speedway Boulevard and Park Avenue and now is in serious condition at a local trauma center, according to police officials.

6. Regents reduce AIMS scholarships for 2013

The Arizona Board of Regents enacted sweeping changes to the Regents High Honors Tuition Scholarship that will begin in 2013. The scholarship grants a full tuition waiver to any student who receives an “”exceeds”” designation in all three categories of he Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS), in addition to other various requirements. The award will be reduced from the full cost of tuition to 25 percent. Students will also now have to earn above a 28 on the ACT or above a 1,300 on the SAT I to qualify. The changes do not impact freshmen entering Arizona schools in 2011 or 2012. The changes are projected to save universities in Arizona approximately $4 million annually, according to the regents’ proposal.

The only dissenting voice among the regents was outgoing Superintendent of Public Instruction and current state Attorney General Tom Horne, who helped pioneer the AIMS proposal.

7. Honors College: thinning the herd

This year marked the most significant decrease in the population of the Honors College since 2004.

There were 629 fewer honors students this year than last after almost 19 percent of the 2009 Honors College population left following the implementation of a $500 fee.

Patricia MacCorquodale, dean of the Honors College, said that many students who were leaving sent messages saying, “”that they enjoyed their honors experience, but they weren’t graduating with honors.””

“”People didn’t leave because they were dissatisfied or disappointed in their experiences,”” she added.

The fee breaks down as 43 percent new honors classes, 29 percent advising, 17 percent student supports and 11 percent programs and activities.

While some students weigh their options and decided graduating with honors wasn’t worth the price tag other students stuck with the college despite the fees.

“”Smaller classes are important to me, and the extra help from Laura Berry, she’s the assistant dean. Extra help in general is nice,”” said Katie Dolan, a sophomore studying English and creative writing.

8. Battle of the mini-dorms

Students living in Jefferson Park mini-dorms are violating the city’s zoning code, according to a determination by the zoning administrator on March 14 — a decision that one councilman called a “”Pandora’s box.””

The determination found the use of mini-dorms built by developer Michael Goodman do not meet the requirements of R-1 zoning, which mandates single-family residences. Groups of unrelated students living together do not comply with this zoning, though representatives of the city of Tucson are unsure of how far the ruling will extend.

The controversy between residents of Jefferson Park Neighborhood and mini-dorm developers spans nearly a decade, resulting in a design manual that received preliminary approval from the City Council. The Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association filed its first complaint regarding the use of mini-dorms with the city of Tucson zoning administrator in January.

Councilman Steve Kozachik said the determination could affect students living in these houses, though no decisions have been made.

“”If I was a student, I’d be looking over my shoulder asking, ‘What now?'”” he said.

9. Sarah Tatum pleads guilty

Sarah Tatum, the former UA student who gave birth in a shower in Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall in February 2009 was sentenced to serve five years in prison and pay $100,000 in restitution on October 15.

Tatum gave birth to the 7-pound boy on Feb. 23, 2009.

The infant was in University Medical Center’s care until March 12, 2009, and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The child was adopted its first week out of the hospital, according to Laura Udall, Tatum’s attorney, in a previous interview.

“”It is a closed adoption by her choice, she contacted Catholic Social Services right away and that’s been her plan all along,”” Udall said.

The adoptive parents spoke at the trial and said they didn’t believe Tatum should be judged harshly, according to an Arizona Daily Star report.

Tatum was indicted on March 17, 2009, and charged with attempted first-degree murder and child abuse.

She entered a plea on Sept. 7 for aggravated assault and child abuse.

The boy has cerebral palsy but tests show he may catch up developmentally, the Star reported.

10. UA celebrates 125th anniversary

Arizona’s first university celebrated its 125th anniversary last semester. Throughout the years, the UA has grown from a single building housing six students to one of the larger public universities in the nation with a total enrollment around 40,000. 

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