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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Mailbag: March 8

Letter to the editor

Just in case you don’t know me, let me write a little bit about myself. My name is Kirk Sibley. I currently work for the Intel Corporation here in Chandler, Ariz., as a senior engineer. I own a house, have a good job, pay my taxes back into the system and do what I can to donate a portion of my earnings to charitable organizations.

When I was a UA student, I was heavily involved in student activities and leadership roles and was the school’s mascot, Wilbur the Wildcat. I enjoyed a complete UA experience while going to school full time and received the quality education that has allowed me to become a leader in my community and a productive member of society that is capable of contributing back to the system.

What’s not widely known about me is that I paid my entire way through college. I grew up next to the I-10 freeway in the Sunnyside Unified School District  on the south side of Tucson in a single parent home where my mom worked as a waitress to support two kids on her own. This was hardly the ideal household situation to produce future college students. But UA was my dream, and I was determined to go there one day. My first year in school I almost starved. But even with all the challenges, I believed in myself and had determination to finish.

Why am I writing this? Because, quite frankly, if I had to do the same thing today I would not be able to. Tuition up until about 2002 was just a little over a thousand dollars a semester for in-state students. Now, the university is proposing tuition in excess of $7,000 per year. But, since the early part of the decade, the average wage of Arizonans has remained flat, making education less affordable with each passing year. To top it all off, even the city of Tucson is thinking about roasting the only golden calf they have left, the student body, by raising taxes on them to fill their coffers.

In all honesty, I am disgusted. While the university and the Tucson community continue to take advantage of the students by raising prices, the number of students who can no longer access education will continue to grow.

In order for Arizona to promote high-paying job growth, they need to have a percentage of the demographic that is educated to attract the kinds of companies that will be good for the state in the long term. These companies, such as Intel, make billions in revenue and provide jobs for the community that will allow the standard of living to rise. By raising the tuition, you sustain the university in the short term to meet budgetary short falls but push the average level of education lower by making it more and more inaccessible. Over time, this becomes a vicious circle that makes Arizona a non-competitive state and player in the global market.

I think back about my own experience and what it was like to achieve a dream of mine. I think back to the national championship basketball team I got to represent in 1997 and the 12-1 football season I was a part of in 1998. I think back to the time I decided to leave home and pay for school because school was important enough and how that one decision was the keystone that changed my life. I graduated, got a good job, bought a house, became a leader in the community, and have memories to last a lifetime, all of which could never happen if I had to make that same decision today.

So when the UA and Tucson propose solving their own financial problems, think of people like myself who would have never stood a chance. And while the university says it is necessary to maintain a quality education, what good is a quality education when the pricing creates a growing uneducated population in our state? What good is a quality education when the students who graduate have so much debt that they are strapped for cash for years as they try to pay off their student loans? It leaves them with no discretionary income to reinvest, buy a home, spend their money on large ticket items that generate sales tax dollars for the state and will most likely force them to go to another state to get a decent paying job. Raising tuition is not the answer.

— Kirk Sibley

University of Arizona alumnus

Intel Corporation

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