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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Students rally against cuts

Will Ferguson/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Protesters against a proposed tuition hike and state cuts to education gathered in front of the UA Administration building on Wednesday. The rally was led by members of the Arizona Students Association.
Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson/Arizona Daily Wildcat Protesters against a proposed tuition hike and state cuts to education gathered in front of the UA Administration building on Wednesday. The rally was led by members of the Arizona Students Association.

Students and community members spoke out against proposed budget cuts to higher education, chanting, “”Can’t survive 235,”” during a rally at Alumni Plaza on Wednesday.

The Arizona Senate released a budget proposal cutting $235 million from Arizona universities on March 16. The Arizona Students’ Association responded by organizing rallies against the cuts at campuses across the state.

The Senate’s cut is $65 million more than that proposed by Gov. Jan Brewer. The UA will receive a $92 million cut under the Senate’s budget proposal.

Around 400 members of the UA community gathered to listen to speakers, sign petitions and make paper chains to create a “”chain of death”” in resistance.

“”I came to the University of Arizona four years ago because I believed I could stay in-state and get a quality education for a low cost,”” said Emily Fritze, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. “”It’s hard to believe that in such a short period of time, the state has cut the University of Arizona alone (by) $100 million.””

Affordability is one of the main reasons students from Arizona stay in state, said Daniel Hernandez, a director of the Arizona Students’ Association.

“”When the state Legislature cuts us, we no longer have education that’s as nearly free as possible,”” he said.

Undeclared freshman Alex McClellan said the increases in tuition resulting from budget cuts will affect her college career. She said she receives the Pell Grant but still has to borrow money from her family.

“”I am scared to have to take out a loan,”” McClellan said. “”Because of that, I think I’m a financial burden, not only to my family but to myself. I need to start taking out loans soon because of all these increases.””

It is not the job of students to balance the state budget, said Emily Connally, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council. Even large increases in tuition cannot offset the budget cuts, she said.

“”The only benefit to cutting higher education is to keep the populous stupid,”” she said.

The proposed cuts could also affect the community. The UA depends on its funding for research and innovation, Connally said.

“”Our research guides progress,”” she said. “”No funds, no research, no future.””

Cutting funding for higher education could affect future generations, according to Ann-Eve Pedersen, president of the Arizona Education Network. Pedersen has a son in fourth grade and said she is worried about his generation.  

“”I’m very concerned,”” she said. “”I’m concerned that if the state Legislature follows through with these cuts, skyrocketing tuition is going to make it impossible for young people like my son to attend college here.””

Pedersen suggested students contact local CEOs about the effect these cuts will have on businesses.

“”You are advocating for the children who want to follow in your footsteps,”” Pedersen said.

Students broadcasting this message to their friends and banding together with others across the state can make a difference, said Arizona Students’ Association Board Chair Elma Delic.

“”We have a very, very strong voice in the state of Arizona,”” she said.

Recent alumna Megan Young said she attended the rally because she has benefited from public education.

“”When the economy is struggling, it’s not right to cut education,”” she said. “”It’s just going to get worse in the future if we don’t have educated people.””

Political science junior Shelly Jackson said she skipped French class to attend the rally.

“”I have an AIMS (Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards) tuition waiver, but it doesn’t cover an increase in costs,”” she said. “”I can’t imagine paying more and more each year. If it’s this much this year, think of how much it’ll be in future years.””

Jackson said many of her classmates had not heard about the event.

“”I feel like the rally today didn’t get enough (students),”” she said. “”People need to be doing more.””

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