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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Dually noted: Fee face-off

We stand today on what late President John F. Kennedy would have called “”the brink of a new frontier,”” and, once more, the imminent horizon of our time is demarcated not by the tranquil features of mundane topography but by a stark precipice which comes in fiscal year 2012 and takes with it hundreds of millions of dollars in public support for higher education. And, yet, though the challenges our society faces are stark, in fixing our attention on them, we often forget our own strength, our vision and our ability to react and rebound when faced with an obstacle. What would Kennedy say if he could see us in our present state of self-pity?

As we approach this fiscal cliff and stare into the abyss beyond, I beg you to envision a future for our university and our state based not on what we have known them to be but on what we believe they have the potential to be. Though the choices we face are difficult, I know that the potential rewards are commensurate to the scale of our challenge, and I need your help.

I, for one, dream of an Arizona so blindingly bright we simply can’t look directly at it. I dream of high-tech economy and world-class institutions discovering new knowledge and delivering never before possible innovations which enhance human lives. I dream of a bastion of nano, bio and clean tech, a cosmopolitan jewel, a rare flower blooming in the desert.

But, there is a problem with my dream. Understandably, none have come forward with the funds to make it a reality. Facing a multi-billion dollar deficit, the state legislature is simply no longer in the dreaming business, and, when the federal stimulus dollars run out in 2012, they will never come back. And so it falls on you, Wildcats. You are our only hope. I’m writing today to ask for your support for the proposed fees. The choice is yours, and, ultimately, you will decide whether this university is allowed to deteriorate.

Many of you have expressed your desire to limit fees to provide only for the maintenance of existing efforts, with no increased spending until full economic recovery is achieved. While I once shared your view, I see now that in this era of rapid change, our obstinacy has the potential to cripple the quality of the university for generations to come. There is simply no maintenance of quality without increased funding, and, though I am deeply sorry for the hardship this will impose on the least prepared, I see no alternative. I will continue to work tirelessly to mitigate these hardships via financial aid commitments, for I believe that equality and diversity are among our greatest strengths.

This is the time to bear down, Arizona. Solidarity and sacrifice are the meaning of our motto, and so I ask you to embody them. Put your money where your mouths are, and own your destiny.

Dave Talenfeld

President, Graduate and Professional Student Council

 

I am writing this letter because of growing concern throughout the College of Science graduate student community about the proposed fee increases. The Arizona Board of Regents will decide the implementation of these fees in one month, and we seek to ensure that the opinions and suggestions of the College of Science graduate community are represented when these decisions are made.

The only solutions proposed to the graduate student community are dramatic increases in the fees we pay each semester. Fees, apart from other ways the UA charges students, must be paid directly from personal assets. Grants, fellowships and teaching assistantships do not cover fees.

While we would prefer to be charged less for fees, we do support appropriate increases in fees to support library services. Given the critical role the library plays in the success of UA at large, we hope that the university can find ways to fund the library’s operations without relying so heavily on fees for students.

We are strongly opposed to the Health/Recreation Center fee in its proposed form and will remain strongly opposed as long as the fee is used primarily for the Student Recreation Center. There is overwhelming support to fund health services on campus; however, grouping these important services with recreational fees is a deceitful way to increase funding for the unpopular and unnecessary expansion of services provided by the Rec Center. Exercise is a healthy choice for students at all levels, but a heavily subsidized Rec Center is not the only option for personal fitness, especially for residents of sunny Tucson. For graduate students to tolerate any fee increase, a balance must be struck between maintaining affordable, necessary health services and reducing or removing the portions of the fee that go to recreation.

We are strongly opposed to the information technology fee increase. The need to continue improving the technology availabilities in classrooms still remains; however, a $300 per year fee is a steep cost to students facing increases in fees across the board. If technology is essential for a UA education, the UA should use tuition money to invest in technology as an infrastructural component.

We are opposed to the Green and Public Interest Research Group fees. The benefits from both are still largely intangible and arguably will not be enjoyed by the students who are actually funding these projects. We oppose the PIRG fee because it is unclear to what end the PIRG fee will be used. Moreover, it sets precedence that public interest groups can tack on fees irrespective of university affiliation.

Given that some or all of these fees may be imposed despite opposition, we hope that the administration seeks other means of funding these programs, especially considering that many of these fees invest in long term projects. We also demand that measures are taken to ensure that these fees remain temporary. Fees seem like the easiest option, but with unprecedented financial challenges, easy options may not be the best. The bottom line is that all fees except the request of the library are simply not necessary, and few will share the benefits.

Bryan Helm

President, Associate Graduate Council of the College of Science

 

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