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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Student affairs require student action

If I were to run out to the UA Mall, right by where the 20-foot photos of abortion footage are, and borrow my friend’s megaphone to shout, “”Hey! Tuition is rising! Every year! Retaliate!”” I’m pretty sure even the anti-abortion activists would think I was nuts. That’s saying a lot about what kind of activism we are used to seeing or promoting on our campus. It also questions why we, as students in a state that never proves its prioritization to education, don’t own more megaphones.  

It might be because we can’t visualize the effects of increasing tuition costs in the same way that we can be forced to see blown-up photos of bloody fetuses. But do we not feel the effects of rising tuition?

I felt the hairs on my arm tingle when I realized how much tuition has actually risen. For instance, from last year’s undergraduate resident tuition, costs for the 2010-11 academic year rose 20 percent to $8,237. Non-resident undergraduate tuition rose to $24,596, a 10 percent increase.

It was prophesized for us last year. Since then, the globe has erupted with student movements against this injustice. Except for on our campus.

Since before November 2010, London university students have been actively protesting their parliament’s plan to triple their student fees and tuition increases. That’s triple, a percentage I wouldn’t even want to calculate. More than 52,000 students marched the streets of London, protesting against the tuition increases as well as the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance, a program that helps fund students who come from low-income families. As universities were literally chained down, student voices were heard all around the world.

Just this past Tuesday, in Puerto Rico, more than 150 students were arrested for civil disobedience while protesting an $800 tuition increase. “”Students were also being advised to write ‘Pago Bajo Protesta’ or ‘Payment Under Protest’ on payments via checks or money orders for evidence of their opposition,”” reported The Huffington Post on Jan. 18. This way, they can be reimbursed for the fees if a class action lawsuit against the administration proves successful. Unfortunately, violence ensued at a sit-in protest involving violent arrests and rubber bullets. As this two-month long protest continues, we in Tucson have to ask the question: Where are our voices?

On our campus, we’ve got to look to whomever is meant to represent our opposition to paying ridiculous tuition and fee increases. Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Emily Fritze wrote in a blog post on Jan. 31 that, “”ASUA and ASA have sought to scrutinize and give input on these proposed fees, often countering administration proposals with student proposals. The truth is that some fees are now being used as a backdoor tuition increase, cloaked with the glamour of treadmills, shiny facilities, and better dining options.”” If we know that these “”backdoor”” dealings going on, what are our options as students to speak up against what we know we can’t afford? Why is it that people like the anti-choice folk bring their bloody rhetorical strategies and manipulative photos to the Mall each year, but we don’t have an annual open student forum for education on tuition and student fees?

We have seen international proof of students’ ability to put pressure on officials who are making decisions behind our back. And unlike in the case of the Puerto Rican protests, actions don’t always have to lead to violence. But the tensions we see across the globe represent what this silence can lead to.

In the words of Saul Alinsky, “”The most unethical of all means is the non-use of any means.””

 

— Elisa Meza is a junior majoring in English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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