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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: Tuition hike pinches students’ pockets unfairly

    It’s official: In-state tuition will rise by $545 next year, with a $2,275 hike for out-of-state students. The hike, which matched President Robert Shelton’s original proposal, was approved Friday in an astonishing move by the Arizona Board of Regents – or, to be more precise, one member of the board of regents.

    The board had already narrowly voted Thursday to reject Shelton’s proposal in favor of a lower tuition hike of 3.7 percent, but Student Regent and UA student David Martinez III introduced a measure to reintroduce the bill the following day. With the makeup of the board slightly changed, the larger tuition hike passed.

    Martinez had initially voted for the smaller hike, but he told the Arizona Daily Wildcat he changed his mind after speaking with other regents, as well as student leaders like Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Tommy Bruce. “”I knew that even though the 3.7 (hike) was good for students, the motion to reconsider was what was best for students,”” Martinez said.

    We don’t doubt Martinez’s good intentions, and it certainly took some courage to opt for a vote that will be decidedly unpopular with his fellow students. But we differ with him. A tuition hike might be “”good”” for students, but a fiscally responsible university would be “”best”” for students.

    Arizona Student Association board chair Michael Slugocki defended the decision by invoking the specter of impending catastrophe: “”If hundreds of classes are cut, if 50 faculty are fired because of this and the quality of our degree goes down, is that a good thing for the university?””

    Is it a good thing for the university if countless potential students are deprived of the chance to attend the UA, because its president decided to raise tuition by almost 10 percent during the worst economic crisis the United States has experienced since the Great Depression? Is it a good thing for the university if students’ grades suffer, because they don’t have enough money to pay for classes and textbooks and pay for their food and rent?

    Slugocki’s words ought to sound familiar to us, because we’ve been hearing variations on them for months. The only difference is that, previously, they were phrased in a positive light.

    Since the beginning of the semester, the UA has been undergoing a transformation project which promises to “”streamline”” the various colleges and departments. We have been promised drastic, even shocking changes. “”Everything is on the table,”” Provost Meredith Hay explained Sept. 11. “”There are no holy cows. … We’re going to have to be bold. And some of it is going to be painful.””

    We’ve yet to hear our student leaders – or Shelton – warn us about the dangers of that. Nor have we heard any dynamic new proposals for finding new funding sources for the university.

    Instead, we’ve heard about the need to “”rethink our priorities”” – that is, slashing inessential programs and classes. Now we’re told that the university needs to raise tuition in order to avoid slashing programs and classes.

    It’s not enough to complain that the state government isn’t giving the university enough funding. Of course it’s not. But that’s the situation, and with Arizona facing crippling deficits, it’s not going to change any time soon.

    It’s also not enough to simply push the financial burden onto students. If the university pushes hard enough, it’s going to push its student body right out of class.

    It remains to be seen whether the UA will rise to the challenge and come up with new funding strategies that don’t involve requesting more state money or gouging students at the tuition pump. For now, students themselves could take a lesson from their university. The UA provides a perfect model for fiscal responsibility – in reverse.

    To students, we say: Observe your university closely. Study how well it adheres to the principles of fiscal responsibility -ÿby doing exactly the opposite of them. And head off to winter break with your fingers pinching your pockets. If you can afford to pay for your morning bagel next year, it won’t be thanks to President Shelton or the board of regents.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Andi Berlin, Chris Carter, Justyn Dillingham, Lauren LePage and Lance Madden.

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