With the Regents’ selection of a firm to search for the new UA president, ABOR and their superiors in the state legislature have an important opportunity to dictate the direction the future of the UA will pursue. What future will that be? The student leaders involved in the search have a few ideas about that:
Both Student Regent William Holmes and Associated Students of the University of Arizona President James Allen said it is vital for students to continue to have a voice throughout the search process, and Allen stressed the importance of finding a candidate who will emphasize affordability for students.
“Students can’t just be looked at as cash cows,” he said. (Emphasis added)
This concern is well-placed, especially given the rising cost of attending the UA, and the disproportional relationship between increases in enrollment and increases in graduation numbers. But it is also important to remember that the rhetoric of students as revenue sources stems from assumptions much above the Regents. In February, a meeting of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee revealed Arizona legislator’s candid view of how parties that set tuition ought to view students:
Rep. Kavanagh said the phrase “as nealy free as possible” in the state constitution is unclear…Kavanagh asked Shelton what percentage of UA students don’t pay tuition. Shelton said he thought it was 15-20 percent of Arizona resident students. Kavanagh, commenting on tuition, said “feel free to soak the out-of-state” students.
Given that this year’s incoming class had a significantly higher number of out-of-state students than previous years, these kind of assumptions will “soak” only increasing numbers of students. Representative Kavanaugh, a Republican from Fountain Hills, is hardly alone in his idea that students as a revenue source is more important than students as future educated citizens who ought to be supported by the state in which they are educated: despite the first budget surplus after several years of dramatic decreases in state funding to education, Governor Jan Brewer will not devote that money to education.
Gov. Jan Brewer won’t vow to earmark what could be the state’s first-ever surplus in years for public education…”Given the circumstances that we’re facing and the cash balance that we have, I would think that, hopefully, education would be spared,” she said. “I can’t say that for certain. But I can assure everybody in the state of Arizona that, as far as education goes, we will do everything in my power and everything in my administration’s power to do what’s right, what we can afford, and protect education.”
Though the Regents and the presidential selection committee have a hesitant opportunity here to dictate the future of the UA, their selection can only make so much impact in a system with its assumptions about education so neatly decided.
If Regent Holmes and President Allen were really so interested in making sure students weren’t seen as “cash cows,” the action towards eliminating that view would neither begin nor end with the UA presidential selection committee. If it moos like a cash cow, and it chews cud like a cash cow, then university administrators can’t be blamed for viewing them as cash cows. ASUA’s refusal to provide genuine representation on increasing fees, and student leadership’s attitude toward tuition increases, have given administration all it needs to know in that regard.
Student leadership has not opposed the steady increase of fees over the last five to ten years, and to claim their battle against students-as-revenue will begin with the epic battle for a just, even UA president is fatuous and self-indulgent. If students aren’t to be viewed as cash cows, they shouldn’t be forced to pay for a gym membership they may very well never use. They shouldn’t be forced to subsidize programs like Safe Ride that are of no use to them. They shouldn’t be charged fees at an ever-rising rate so Eller can have a nice teleconferencing classroom that no one else can use, or the recruitment brochures can have a nice rock-climbing wall, or so office workers in the Office of Student Affairs can staple packets on the student dime.
These student leaders are correct that students should not be viewed exclusively as a source of revenue. But instead of placing that criticism with the presidential search committee, it should be places with the state legislature, and — more urgently — with themselves. If student leaders don’t want their constituents viewed as cash cows, they ought to stop leaving them out to pasture.
This site has discussed and proposed user fees in the past. But like all policy prescriptions, such proposals have been countered by skeptics of such programmatic faith. “How will you implement it? This isn’t really done at the UA.”
Thanks to the Wildcat archives (a priceless resource, although one threatened with each new website upgrade), however, we can observe in hindsight an experiment in exactly this sort of user fee: namely, the 10 cent charge (call it a “printing fee”) levied on each page printed at the public printers on campus.
Students are now used to the CatCard payment system, but it didn’t always used to be this way. From the Wildcat back in 2002:
Campus computer labs will charge a fee to print documents beginning Monday, CCIT officials said.
Peter J. Perona, executive director of CCIT, said the labs were originally going to switch to the pay-per-print system four years ago when the Main Library began charging, but the costs of administering the policy was too much in comparison to the amount of paper that was being used.
Perhaps not surprisingly, these commons were exploited by students for everything that they could:
Joseph Park, a CCIT lab monitor in the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Building, said abuse of the free printout privilege has been common in the lab. Park estimated an average of four reams – or 2,000 sheets of paper – are wasted every week by people who print something out and either leave it in the lab or throw it away immediately.
“One business student tried to print out a 500-page book,” Park said.
He said that days when career fairs are held on campus are especially busy for printing documents and that some students print 300 copies of their resumes rather than making photocopies of them.
Park said students also regularly print out 30-to-40-page dissertations in the lab.
In retrospect, this sort of pay-per-print system seems obvious. But in the light of current fee discourse, an obvious counter-model emerges. The library and other computer labs could tout the number of pages printed as a metric of success, and could bandy about the rising numbers as indication that the program (a) is a student priority, and (b) needs to funded accordingly. You could implement a $10/semester “printing fee,” or could simply make it an earmarked increase in the extant library/tech fee.
Although both charges address the problem, our astute readership certainly can see how the mandatory-universal-flat fee is lacking. Students who purchased their own printer, or who prefer electronic versions (for reasons environmental or otherwise), are now subsidizing the printing of others. Further, now that there’s a fee at stake, students have even more of an incentive to print off the collected works of A.C. Pigou than they had before, to get their money’s worth. Printing rates increase, which in turn precipitates a fee increase, creating an unhappy cycle of costs borne by all students. Read the rest of this entry »
How can you make a difference on campus? Stop trolling Reddit on UAWifi and apply for the IT Fee student advisory board. The ITSAB provides the only student representation on what happens to each student’s IT Fee, currently a total sum of over $5.3 million.
Then-ASUA President Tommy Bruce once claimed the board of student advisers that consider the Student Services Fee was the future of student governance, the state of the board that advises the Information Technology Fee is probably a more honest future for board-based governance:
The 4-year-old IT Student Advisory Board, originally formed to provide the UA chief information officer with feedback on how student information technology fees should be spent, is looking for student and faculty members.
The board is looking to re-energize this year after declining participation last year, to include 12 students representing various aspects of campus as well as several ex-officio members who don’t vote – three faculty, one or two college liaisons, a chief information officer representative from communications and marketing and one representative each from The University of Arizona Libraries, Residence Life and the Office of Instruction and Assessment. (Emphasis added)
The ITSAB, unlike the apparently sexier SSFAB, has not enjoyed the popularity and exposure of its Safe Ride-supporting cousin. With the lack of interest and attention on where the IT Fee money is going, a non-politicized board becomes an atrophied board. If we were cynical, we might wager that this is what the administration has been hoping for since the conception of “governance”-by-board — all the money, with none of the meddling from students, parents, state legislators, or “gotcha” journalists.
Yet the decisions considered by the ITSAB are just as expensive and just as important as those considered by the SSFAB: Every student taking more than 7 units pays a $77.50 towards the IT fee. Where does this money go? According to the snazzy ITFAB website:
As revealed here, the largest sum of the IT Fee goes to paying for the (admirably good) free wifi on campus. But there are also less-justifiable expenses listed here. For example, $125,000 from the revenue of the fee every single student pays funds a Video Conference classroom in McClelland Hall. This is a service exclusive to the Eller College of Management, and should therefore be paid as part of the differential tuition Eller students pay for the privilege of attending.
The purpose of the ITSAB is to oppose and discontinue the costly and ridiculous programs funded by its fee, as the SSFAB did with Welfare Wednesday, in which hundreds of thousands of student dollars went to subsidize the cost of various meals in the Union so students paid only $3 when they picked up their prickly pear and seared seal meat sandwich each Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »
Even uttering the word “feminist” in most social settings sets eyes rolling and acquaintances frothing into debaters, name-callers, sexist pigs, and crazy man-haters. Transpose the debate over the f-word into politics, and tempers will flare faster than the polyester at a Gloria Steinem backyard bra barbecue in the summer of ’73.
Though one might assume the harsh rhetoric stoked by Ms. Steinam and her contemporaries has reduced to a smolder somewhat in the intervening half-century since “feminism” first asserted herself a name, ASUA apparently disagrees. During the discussion regarding that organization’s 2011-12 budget, observers learned that the Women’s Resource Center had been renamed as FORCE. A bit of searching revealed that this acronym stands for “Feminists Organized to Resist Create and Empower.” This information has only been publicized as one Facebook post, and has not been featured (at least that we’ve noticed) on official ASUA or WRC advertisements on campus.
The new name connotes a quite different mission than that of the Women’s Resource Center: While the previous name allowed for all women to feel welcome seeking advice and support with the organization their student fees go to support, FORCE may have a much more belligerent mission. Though the information on the name change and who orchestrated it remains curiously slim, the point stands that an organization of feminists, the most polarizing non-expletive this side of “religion”, ones are interested in actively mobilizing to “resist” some force (presumably the patriarchy), frames a much more binary view of women and the resources they need on campus than the bland-but-welcoming Women’s Resource Center.
As much as FORCE may try to force otherwise, not all women are feminists. Any thoughtful consideration of the condition of women in modern society would grant and even celebrate the choice each person has to create and assert his or her own identity. Now that ASUA is directing all its former WRC budget into FORCE, are women that aren’t feminists no longer granted or encouraged to seek the resources they enjoyed under the WRC?
Anyone concerned with changing societal mores knows that language is more important than laws: This isn’t just an innocuous name change. It’s a rhetorical shift, one that rolls back several important waves of feminism to assert that “organizing” to “resist” some unnamed travesty, to”create” a brave new gender-normless world , and “empowering” those ignorant girls who just don’t happen to be feminists yet is more important than providing resources to women, in as apolitical a manner as possible. Why did ASUA see the need for this rhetorical shift, and how has the mission of the WRC changed with it? Read the rest of this entry »
At Wednesday’s meeting, the intrepid Senate considered and approved the 2011-12 ASUA budget, granted $28.11 to fund Senate Aide flyers, unveiled the ZonaZoo app, and discussed changes to the ASUA bylaws. Details of last week’s meeting below the fold: Read the rest of this entry »
Considering SAT scores, ACT scores, and incoming GPAs of incoming freshmen have all decreased in the last decade, the UA can’t exactly claim each incoming class is the “smartest ever” without some very indulgent fact-massaging. So what’s a PR machine to do to make the avalanche of first-year undergraduates clogging up the Union seem worth bragging about? Change its diction, of course.
Instead of claiming this year’s class is the best and brightest, the UA has a new claim. In his welcome video, the UA’s interim president Eugene “The Stacher” Sander unleashes this newly-instated nomenclature for just how super-awesome this year’s freshmen are:
This year I’m pleased to tell you that we had the largest, the most…best prepared, and most diversity beginning class that we’ve ever had at the university. (Emphasis added)
President Sander isn’t the first to have replaced the previous claim that each class was exponentially “smarter” with this year’s claim that they are, instead, the “best prepared” – UA News used the very same language last week:
The University of Arizona’s outstanding freshmen class – the largest, most prepared and most diverse in its history – includes 510 scholars in Arizona Assurance, a program for in-state, low-income college students who might not otherwise be able to attend the UA. (Emphasis added)
At this point, it’s fairly obvious that the relative “smartness” of each incoming class has been decreasing since about 2004. It seems unlikely that the UA state media machine would have finally decided to respect the data on whether or not each class is really the “smarter” than all the 120-0dd preceeding classes. This new metric of “most prepared” is convenient because there is no data to reference to determine whether or not these public relations claims are even remotely true.
What does it mean for an incoming class to be “more prepared” than their predecessors? One might assume this means these students are more prepared for success in college and a timely graduation than previous classes, but the indicators of that — SAT score and high school GPA — are both lower for this class than many classes before them. Perhaps the UA is growing tired of being scolded by public fact-checking, for their new claims allow for no fact-checking at all.
“Best prepared” is a phrase that can’t be disputed. What does the UA think “prepared” means? Prepared for what? If this site was making an estimate of what makes a student “prepared” for college, it would probably include data on a student’s ability to subsist entirely on uppers laced with alcohol, ability to make smoking devices out of vegetables. The administrators who orchestrated of the shift in claim from “smartest” to “best prepared” probably had other estimates in mind — maybe they believe the 2015 class has the sharpest pencils ever, or the greatest amount of pep, or the largest number of iPads provided by the school with the coolest UA iPad cases the Bookstore can devise to inflate the price on.
No matter what UA News and the UA public relations team think “most prepared” means, without any kind of facts to check it against, it is just as vacuous and misleading as the “smartest” claim it serves to replace. This class isn’t the smartest in the UA’s history, and it probably isn’t the most diverse — the claim that it is the “most prepared” doesn’t need a fact check to reveal that it’s just as transparent as these other, equally false claims.
This site has long been vocal about the promise of the Arizona Assurance program, a semi-private program that provides opportunity to low-income Arizona students to attend the University of Arizona at no direct cost to them or their families. Yet for just as long, we’ve been concerned about the program’s ability to sustain itself against what will only be an increasing need for financial aid, given the ever-larger numbers of students and families with fewer resources to devote towards college. As families continue to face the current cloudy economic climate, more will qualify for programs like Assurance — while at the same time, the tax dollars and private donations that would sustain such a program are decreasing at an even more rapid rate due to that same economic turbulence.
And it looks like those were keen concerns: after dramatic growth in the program’s first few years of existence, the current incoming class of Arizona Assurance students is the smallest the program has ever had. Of course, that’s not how UA News tells the story:
The University of Arizona’s outstanding freshmen class – the largest, most prepared and most diverse in its history – includes 510 scholars in Arizona Assurance, a program for in-state, low-income college students who might not otherwise be able to attend the UA.
Thanks to previous articles just like this year’s, it is easy to compare the Assurance enrollment numbers for the years since its founding in 2008 — and easy to see the dramatic decline from 2010 to 2011:
The program supported 590 students its first year, 770 in 2009, 1,100 in 2010, and only 510 in 2011. The UA has devoted much time and energy to the fact that this is the largest freshmen class ever — a fact that should also result in more students than ever needing the kind of financial aid Assurance provides. Arizona Assurance is a good program — the retention rates of the students it supports are very strong, and basing aid and affirmative action on socio-economic status rather than ethnicity is absolutely the direction financial aid should start to lean.
But its current incarnation — where over 15% of the 2010 freshmen class was attending the UA completely free — is not sustainable. More students need aid, the UA is simultaneously less able to generate and endowment to support a program like this. If their report to ABOR last December was any indication, not even the organizers of this program expected their resources to decrease at such a rapid rate: the UA reported they anticipated 2009′s number of 770 scholars per year to decrease to 700 scholars by 2016. This year’s class of 510 scholars represents a 46% decrease in the number of students the program was able to support in just one year — at that rate, Assurance will be long gone by 2016.
The death of this program would be a lamentable occurrence indeed — but that threat is indicative of many made by the Shelton administration: a penchant for expensive, shiny programs in a time when perhaps aiding more students in a less flamboyant manner would have assured this program for more than a few lucky kids in a few short years of its existence.
Anyone who’s been on campus has probably noticed an even-more-abundant number of confused permateenagers tripping off their brand-new longboards on campus, and this time, it’s not even our imagination that they’re everywhere. According to UA News, the current freshmen class is the biggest in the UA’s history:
About 7,300 students make up the 2011 freshman class, up about 300 students from last year.
This is nothing new: UA News (affectionately deemed Zonavda here at the Lamp) writes a story every fall about how much more awesome each freshman class is in relation to the last. In 2006, the headline read: “UA welcomes largest and most diverse freshman class ever,” and in 2007, Zonavda proclaimed, “The freshman class grew by nearly 10 percent while academic quality and diversity also improved.” In 2009, the language was, “The largest and most diverse freshman class ever will comprise the most academically gifted class ever.” The superlative nature of each ascending freshmen class is nearly as reliable as the poster sellers hawking Fight Club wall hangings on the Mall every fall.
Not so reliable is the statistical accuracy of these perennial claims. In this year’s incarnation, UA News writes, “About 7,300 students make up the 2011 freshman class, up about 300 students from last year,” and later in the same article, “Nearly 27,000 people applied for freshman admission, up 9 percent since 2009.” While the former statistic compares the 2011 class to 2010 numbers, the later compares to 2009 figures. When the skeptical UA News reader traces these numbers back to the actual figures reported by OIRPS, one sees that the increases for the 2011 are less than newsworthy.
Comparing last year’s application numbers (this, and future citations, come from the supremely helpful OIRPS CDS page), one may see that 26,629 students applied to the UA in 2010. The press release has an unhelpful habit of using words like “nearly” and “about” (in 2006 they had no problem releasing their data sets) so we don’t know how close to 27,000 the 2011 application figures are, but the difference from last year is statistically insignificant. While applications increased at most by 1.39 percent, freshman who ultimately enrolled increased by 3.81 percent. Perhaps people are more inclined to stay at home (this is, after all, a recession), but it doesn’t bode well for the whole “smartest” claim.
The release continues:
The UA continues to see a rise in the number of students enrolling from Arizona. This year, about 200 more resident freshmen will be attending the UA than last year, an increase of more than 6 percent since 2009.
Non-residents and international students continue to be a strong portion of the class, representing 38 percent.
Insofar as admission/matriculation rise, in-state numbers will rise as will nonresident numbers. But if there are 300 more freshmen this year than last year, and 200 of the 300 additional freshman are from in-state, that should shift the proportion of in-state students marginally up (it stood at 65% in 2010, according to this helpful chart). But if the non-resident student numbers are to be believed, the in-state rate has fallen from 65% of the overall student population in 2010 to 62% in 2011. On the diversity claim as well as the “smartest” claim, these figures are curious.
This piece notes:
Members of the UA freshman class continue to perform well academically. The average GPA is 3.4, the average SAT score is about 1100 and the average ACT score is 23.8.
This hardly counts as the “smartest” class in UA history: average GPA was 3.4 back in 2004. “About 1100″ is the biggest dodge since Ocean’s Eleven, and no matter what kind of obfuscation is going there is down from 2009 and way down from 2005′s 1122 average. The ACT (given that the ACT gives scores in whole numbers, why the exactness here?) is exactly the same as last years.
The only thing remarkable about this class is its size, and the UA’s continued willingness to sacrifice so much of what made campus different in the name of following Michael Crow’s fife.
At Wednesday’s Senate meeting (agenda and preview here), the new senators considered the proposed budget as presented by ASUA Treasurer Reid Nelson, and briefly considered the summer work of the new ASUA administration. More details of the meeting below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »
Today at 5pm in the Ventana room of the SUMC at is the first meeting of the school year for the ASUA Senate. That illustrious elected body of ten’s opinion counts as The Student Voice in countless committees on campus, in untold numbers of administrative decisions, and often for the Board of Regents in such crucial decisions as setting tuition and fees. If we care to remember, last year’s ASUA election was fraught with forgery, deception, and the kind of courtroom fireworks usually only enjoyed on a particularly bass-filled episode of Law and Order: Dark Alleys.
To give credit where it is due, the new administration has been quite forthcoming with documents, a transparency turn that is quite welcome after the medieval barriers of last August. The agenda for tonight’s meeting can be found here and the proposed ASUA budget for 2011 can be perused here [pdf] (the budget is being considered only as an information item at this meeting).
Thanks to the summer governance documents (agenda here) sent by EVP Ponton, we learn that ASUA is apparently considering holding another large-scale concert:
For the elderly students still here at the UA, we all remember the Last Smash Tin Crash: In the 08-09 year, then-ASUA President Tommy Bruce kept secret the existence and billing of a giant concert that would eventually prove to feature such acts as Jay-Z and the Veronicas — and would also prove to lose that organization $1.2 million.
Given the organization’s past with concerts, students are justified in their skepticism when the ASUA Senate considers and approves a “List of Potential Artists” that includes Wiz Khalifa, Shiny Toy Guns, Ra Ra Riot, and Kid Cudi, among others. This concert has received no mention (that this author has seen — if that’s wrong, the comments are always open) except buried in the agenda of an ASUA Senate meeting in June. Though the Senate shall not yet be decried for repeating the lavish mistakes of their predecessors, considering an expensive concert while they are still paying off the failure of the last one (which is, in fact, in the budget above) is a potential mistake student constituents should be keen to watch.
Though the Wildcat elided his unconventional rise to the presidency in their ASUA preview article of Monday, the dirty process by which President James Allen ascended just might offer a glimpse of the year ASUA has ahead. After one primary election, two general elections, dozens of campaign code violations leveled against several different candidates, and two hearings of the ASUA Supreme Court, James Allen was finally named the President. This was not before, however, he and his running mates — current Executive and Administrative Vice Presidents Ponton — were accused of coercion of voters inside sorority houses, among other accusations, as well as sending text messages opening with “Morning Hun” to voter cell phones to solicit support. It was not the lowbrow nature of the address that garnered a campaign violation, but rather the fact that each text message was not addresses by name to the specific “hun.” In any case, President Allen defeated Daniel Hernandez Jr. in the emergency general election last spring in order to earn the office.
So we’re undoubtedly in for another exciting year with ASUA — here’s hoping there are cleaner elections and cheaper concerts in their future than in their past.
Another year dawns bright and absurdly hot here at the University of Arizona, another sign that as much as things change, they stay even more steadfastly the same. Today greets students with a new host of classes and a few new selections in the SUMC, but also a different president and different provost than the ones who wished the 2011 graduates well on their way.
When the students left campus in May, the political intrigue sure didn’t: Though the summer months dealt up much more than mere shuffling of administrators around the state, below are a few key highlights to what was going on in the administration tower while we were hungover in our various cubicles.
In a move that few seem to have anticipated, UA President Robert N. Shelton announced his imminent departure from that position in early June. By August 1, President Shelton had left the brick tower for the shinier pastures of the Fiesta Bowl, and the UA’s highest position is now being filled by Interim President Eugene B. Sander. Interim President Sander is the former Dean of the college of agriculture and will fill the position until (allegedly) the Board of Regents can conduct a national search for a permanent replacement.
Though few students and speculators may have anticipated President Shelton’s departure, speculation leads one to conclude that the Board of Regents probably did. The Regents, eager to have a dramatic change in performance and ethos like that of President Michael Crow’s birthing of ASU as the “New American University,” were hardly great supporters of many Shelton policies — last year they almost threw out his tuition proposals entirely. This site’s least conspiratorial conclusion for Shelton’s departure leads us to guess that President Shelton’s contract was up for renewal, and the Regents were less than pleased with Shelton’s performance and his price tag — serendipitous, then, that a flashy position should open up for him with the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix. The departure and its implications deserve a more-thorough consideration, but anyone who has watched a Board of Regents tuition hearing (No one? No? Just us? Oh. Okay.) knows that the Regents have long been less than impressed with the UA’s proposals for higher cost at very little difference in graduation rate and other metrics in relation to the other Arizona universities.
The UA also lost its provost, Dr. Meredith Hay, shortly after President Shelton announced his departure from Tucson. In late July we learned Provost Hay would be leaving the UA for a newly-created position with the Board of Regents. Given her alliance with President Shelton and the controversy of that alliance, it was no shock to UA observers that she would depart — though it was a bit unexpected that Hay would leave in what is essentially a demotion. Provost Hay was being considered for a much higher position as president of the UMass system last year, but she withdrew her candidacy, and has never spoken of the reasons for that withdrawal. The slap-dash creation of a position within ABOR — who was has at least as uncharitable a consideration of Hay as they do of Shelton — may indicate that both departures were hardly anticipated. Provost Hay’s position is being filled by Jacqueline Lee Mok, the UA’s senior vice president and chief of staff, until a new provost can be hired.
For those Lamp readers new to the Shelton/Hay saga, the Transformation Plan for university restructuring implemented by the dynamic duo a few years ago ellicited much fervor from the faculty and a fair bit of scowls from the students for its combination of departments and consolidation of various programs. Her departure was the third major administrative position to be vacated in recent months, after the departure of Stephen MacCarthy from his position as Vice President for External Relations.
In sum, the summer’s unexpected position changes poise the UA for a few interesting searches that will allow outsiders to perhaps glimpse just what the ABOR is after in the UA’s future, since it was obviously not the direction Shelton and Hay were charting. Keep reading here for more news and blatant speculation as to how that search unfold — and whether the new president will be as delightfully meme-able as the last.