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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Scholarship policy should benefit students and state

    Editorial

    During the past few weeks, schools in the College of Fine Arts have circulated e-mails notifying students that the college will no longer require out-of-state scholarship students to do community service in exchange for their tuition waivers. The new policy was adopted in response to the August revision of an Arizona Board of Regents policy that required out-of-state scholarship recipients to perform 20 hours of community service each semester to retain their scholarships. Now the community service policy is optional, and the College of Fine Arts has chosen to discontinue the requirement.

    The board of regents’ policy, which was originally adopted in 2000, made sense. When a state offers to pay for all or part of a student’s education, it should expect the student to give something back to the state.

    Twenty hours, which breaks down to less than two hours per week during a semester, is not a lot to ask. As the regents acknowledged in their discussion of the policy during the August meeting, “”The universities provide ample opportunity for supervised community service for all students through internships and service learning programs. … Many thousands of hours of quality community service and volunteer activities are accumulated by all the students at the universities each year.””

    Unfortunately, the regents’ decision has not only put Arizona organizations at risk for losing student volunteers; it has also increased the inequality between the requirements of various scholarships at the university. To renew a tuition waiver, a nonresident student has to meet several requirements, including a minimum grade point average and a minimum number of credit hours enrolled per semester in addition to community service.

    These conditions vary depending on the type of scholarship, however. While academic scholarship recipients must maintain a 3.5 GPA, special talent waiver recipients – students who receive scholarships from their academic departments as opposed to the university – must only maintain a 3.0 GPA.

    Now that the schools in the College of Fine Arts no longer require community service hours, the state is essentially funding the education of students who perform satisfactorily in their classes, whether or not they intend to graduate or even take academic classes outside their major, without asking anything of the students in return. However, students in those same schools who receive academic scholarships are held to higher standards and are still required to perform community service hours.

    The board of regents’ arguments in favor of amending the community service requirement were that the policy takes resources to monitor and that its elimination “”would make Arizona’s universities more competitive in the recruitment of high-quality, nonresident students.””

    It’s difficult to argue that a few hours spent processing paperwork are more valuable than the thousands of hours that will be lost under this revision. And Arizona’s schools are already competitive; according to the Honors College Web site, the UA hosts more than 300 National Merit Scholars, many of whom are required to complete volunteer hours under their scholarship terms.

    By allowing colleges to set their own standards for scholarship recipients, the board of regents has created an unfair situation in which some students have to work much harder than others for the exact same benefits.

    When two equally talented students can be held to vastly different academic standards, ultimately at the expense of the community, it’s time to form a more cohesive scholarship policy that treats students and departments equally.

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Caitlin Hall, Michael Huston, Ryan Johnson and Aaron Mackey.

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