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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: Budget cuts demand a united response

    The UA isn’t exactly known for being a particularly activist campus. So there was something unusual and special about the rally Tuesday, when about a thousand people filled the UA Mall to protest the Arizona Legislature’s proposal to slash nearly 40 percent of the state’s higher education funding. If the proposal passes, the UA would lose $103 million of its state funds, with more cuts to follow in the summer.

    Sparked by members of the Arizona Students’ Association, who are organizing rallies to protest the proposal across the state, the rally drew a fairly impressive turnout. According to Michael Slugocki, chair of ASA’s Board of Directors, 848 people have signed ASA’s petition against the budget cuts so far.

    It was a worthy turnout for a half-hour rally held a mere hour after the end of the presidential inauguration. But it’s only the start of what needs to be a sustained and unrelenting outcry against this proposal.

    The likely results of this proposed budget are predictable enough. It’s highly doubtful that any amount of reasonable waste-cutting procedures would be enough to make up for the loss of funding. As Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Tommy Bruce said at last night’s ASUA Senate meeting, the inevitable result of any cut of more than $50 million would spell the end of entire programs and even colleges.

    Even then, we’d almost certainly see an enormous tuition hike, with all the inevitable consequences for students. In passing this proposed budget, lawmakers would essentially be squeezing countless potential students – not to mention current ones – out of college altogether.

    That’s not to mention the inevitable results of the cuts to higher education -as well as the accompanying attack on K-12 education, from which legislators want to take $900 million -ÿon Arizona’s work force and economy. As Arizona State University President Michael Crow has put it, the state might well resemble “”a Third World country”” by the time its legislators are through.

    As Bruce put it, the proposal marks “”the largest threat we have ever seen to higher education in this state.””

    The vehemence of the response certainly raises doubts about whether legislators would dare to pass such a proposal in the face of near-universal condemnation. But such doubts rest on flimsy foundations. A Republican-dominated legislature isn’t likely to feel many trepidations about abandoning higher education to the mercy of the marketplace, and newly appointed Gov. Jan Brewer isn’t likely to stand in their way.

    When the Arizona Board of Regents meets today at 1 p.m., we hope they’ll be greeted by an enormous sampling of the studentry (to use William Strunk’s preferred term, a nod to “”citizenry””) and faculty. It’s impossible to overstate the seriousness of this matter. Unless the uproar is sufficient to make legislators rethink their priorities, the UA is likely to sustain its most severe financial blow ever.

    This may well be the first issue we’ve all agreed on in years. But that won’t matter if we don’t insist upon making our voices heard.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Cody Calamaio, Justyn Dillingham, Taylor Kessinger, Heather Price-Wright, and Nickolas Seibel.

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