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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pro/Con: Exclusivity in universities

Pro: Let’em all in!

Exclusivity is fine in country clubs and unsolicited credit card offers, but when it comes to public schools — even universities — it’s inappropriate. The Ivy League and its unassailable ivory towers exist to keep the riffraff out, but a public institution like the UA, funded in great (though unfortunately rapidly diminishing) part by the state, has a duty to provide a quality university education to anyone and everyone who meets minimum admissions standards. It might mean some are academically unequal, but providing an education to a broad population of varying backgrounds and talents is what public education is all about.

It’s not as if the UA’s non-exclusivity, when it comes to admissions, will mean a campus filled with unmotivated, subpar students. The average UA student’s high school GPA was 3.4 — not bad for a bunch of state school cretins. The school itself has been listed among the best public schools in national rankings, including those of the National Science Foundation. For a large state school with a high acceptance rate, the UA seems to be doing just fine.

Plus, a whopping 83 percent overall acceptance rate is part of what makes attending a big public university so interesting. At more exclusive schools, chances are most of your classmates have similar intellects, skills and viewpoints to yours. They may all be geniuses, but it’s hard to learn much from a classroom full of your own clones, even really smart ones.

Inclusivity means diversity, and that’s what’s great about the UA. You’ll meet people who think nothing like you, for better or worse. If you’re from a big city, you might find yourself sitting next to someone who grew up castrating bulls on the family farm. That kind of interaction could happen at a more exclusive school, but at the UA it’s much more organic.

There’s no deliberately engineered diversity, no phony sense of difference.

An added advantage of an inclusive university community is the opportunity to create exclusive, elite programs within it. Even — shudder — ASU has figured that out, creating smalls schools like the Barrett Honors College and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to give students a small, exclusive home at a massive state university. The UA’s Eller College of Management, among many other programs, serves the same purpose.

With small, selective programs finding homes in large public universities, students get the best of both worlds. Without paying the hefty tuition or missing out on the excellent aspects of a large public university, they can find small, exclusive programs targeted to their needs and abilities. The larger and more diverse a student body, the more opportunities a university has to create programs suited to the needs of a vast array of students.

Plus, let’s be honest. When given the choice, I’d always choose to hang out with the riffraff over the elite. Wouldn’t you?

— Heather Price-Wright is a creative writing senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

Con: The UA caters to mediocrity

I could be much smarter if I actually went to a good school. I’m constantly amazed at the oft-quoted University of Arizona 83 percent acceptance rate being presented as a good thing. Beyond the fact that most lectures destroy any and all of my self-image by insulting my intelligence, it’s hard not to marvel at the lack of intellectual quality of the students around me.

We’ve all met them: those students who wear clothing 10 sizes too large, play Farmville during lecture and think that getting smashed and making out with as many people as possible every Saturday night is a legitimate life plan. But lucky us! The UA welcomes these students and many more with open arms to join our happy Wildcat family as soon as they’ve miraculously graduated high school.

Here’s the problem: It’s not the UA’s job to cater to people who don’t deserve to be here. It says something that we accept the same students that our very own Pac-10 sister universities don’t. It says something when we have to validate ourselves to our friends and family by saying, “”At least I don’t go to ASU.”” If someone can’t pass English 101 with a B or higher, why are they even here? If we have to outsource students to Pima Community College because they can’t test into any UA math course, doesn’t that demonstrate there is a major problem?

One can argue that it gives students a chance who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, like kids from impoverished families or students who are members of a minority — both groups have a statistical disadvantage when it comes to completing an education. It’s a fair argument, but we don’t pay thousands of dollars every year to achieve a sub-par education that panders to those who aren’t ready for college, especially when that pandering comes at the cost to our university’s (read: our diplomas’) reputation.

If we cut the admissions rate in half, several things are bound to happen. By only accepting those looking to earn their degrees, we cut out the students who either don’t want or don’t deserve to be here. What follows are classes centered on that type of student, degrees built with more rigorous curricula in mind and fewer distractions outside of school.

Independent university rankings look favorably on the UA and we’re all of the sudden on the up and up.

Except, even in the best of circumstances, the UA is a business and not a school. It won’t cut admissions or the money that they bring with them, and it’s because of this that the UA may never be an elite public university no matter what Meredith Hay or Robert Shelton says. Our programs are, for the most part, doomed to mediocrity.

Oh well. At least we have a keg of Natural Light to help us forget it.

— Joe Dusbabek is a French and linguistics junior. He can be reached at

arts@wildcat.arizona.edu

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