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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Playing party politics interferes with ASA reform

    The Arizona Students’ Association has its flaws, which is why Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Katy Murray made the two-hour drive up to Tempe on Sept. 21 to speak with ASU student body president Mark Naufel. There, they discussed ways to improve the way the association operates. Murray said sheleft the meeting feeling that ASU and the UA were on the same page, and that reform would soon follow.

    Then the ASU Senate passed a bylaw stating that the president doesn’t have to be part of the board of directors of ASA. By Sept. 28, all of the student presidents from ASU’s campuses had resigned and Naufel had posted a long paragraph an on his Facebook page vaguely outlining his problems with ASA and promising more details to come.

    In 1974, the ASU, UA and Northern Arizona University student body presidents created ASA to build unity among Arizona’s three universities. ASA consists of nine full time staff members, a board of student directors and around 20 to 25 interns from each campus. While Naufel has outlined many reasons for wanting to leave ASA, one of his main issues is the allocation of funds to support Proposition 204.

    Proposition 204 would extend a one-cent sales tax that gives money to education, and ASA has negotiated it so that 80 percent of the money higher education receives goes toward funding financial aid.

    According to its website, ASA wants to make sure “higher education in Arizona is affordable and accessible by advocating to elected officials and running issue campaigns to engage the students.” If this proposition is passed, ASA will have fulfilled its goals.

    ASA has donated $100,000 toward campaigning for Proposition 204, and as ASA’s funding comes from a $2 fee paid by each student, that means that students financed the campaign.

    Naufel argued that using student fee money that way was inappropriate. When pressed for more information about his resignation, Naufel pointed to an investigative report by the Goldwater Institute, a traditionally conservative publication that didn’t even get comments from directors from UA or NAU for its story. He was relying on a right leaning organization to “expose” a left leaning one.

    But lowering tuition and getting more scholarship money for students tend to be more liberal platforms, so it only makes sense that ASA appears to be left leaning. Furthermore, it shouldn’t matter whether Proposition 204 is a Democratic or Republican piece of legislation. Education is not a partisan issue.

    Being a non-partisan organization doesn’t mean refusing to support anything with a Democratic or Republican tag. It means that party doesn’t matter when looking at issues.

    “Do I think this organization is perfect?” Murray said “No. I don’t think it’s flawless.” But that doesn’t mean the board can’t work together to reform the program, and that certainly doesn’t mean that party politics should get in the way of representing the students.

    — Dan Desrochers is a pre-journalism sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @drdesrochers.

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