Regents battle again over affirmative action

By Trigie Ealey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 21, 1996

FLAGSTAFF - The Arizona Board of Regents took on two major issues yesterday at its meeting on the Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff - affirmative action and nonresident undergraduate tuition waivers.

In a lively debate lasting nearly two hours, regents discussed the issue of affirmative action.

Since November, the state's three public universities have been conducting self-studies on their programs. The results of those studies were presented to the board.

Regent Eddie Basha said he supports the programs because they offer "latitude" for the universities in their hiring and admissions.

Regent President John Munger disagreed. "'Latitude' is race preference," he said.

"Where do you draw the lines when demand is greater than the supply?" Basha asked Munger. Basha described a scenario of choosing a bilingual Native American doctor with a lower grade point average than an Anglo doctor with a higher grade point average who only speaks English, to work on the reservation. Basha said the Native American doctor would be a better choice because the doctor would also understand the culture.

"Is that discrimination?" Basha asked Munger.

"Yes, it is," Munger answered.

Regent Donald Ulrich said the board needed to look at whether there were other options to affirmative action programs. He said it would not make sense to him to eliminate the program if there is not an adequate program to replace it. "Why blow this up unl ess you have something better?" The standing-room-only audience applauded.

Regent Art Chapa said he is sure that without affirmative action programs, there would not be the same number of women and minority police officers and military personnel.

"It may not be the way, but it is a way," he said.

UA Vice President for Student Affairs Saundra Taylor presented the regents with the university's report. She said the university offers some programs that are minority-targeted, but there are comparable programs offered for majority students.

"Our conclusion is that we have made a concerted effort in affirmative action," Taylor said.

Regent Hank Amos said many programs have brochures recruiting minorities and women to tutoring programs. He said these programs now say they will take majority students who apply as well.

"These programs should say they are open to all," Amos said. "It does not appear that way from the brochures."

Munger agreed, saying he would not continue looking at program brochures which offer tutoring to women and minorities. He said he would assume the program is not for him.

Regent Judy Gignac, reviewing some of the information presented to the regents, said that if the universities are in fact overemphasizing minorities and women, as some claim, then they are not doing a very good job of it.

UA President Manuel Pacheco said he did not expect the regents to make any changes in the system at this point. He said another plan would have to be developed before changes are made to the present system.

The regents accepted the reports and will continue to study the issue.

The regents also heard from the universities on nonresident undergraduate tuition waivers. The program, designed to attract students who could go to any of the three state universities, has been under fire from the regents.

Though requirements differ among the three universities, waivers are offered to UA students for three categories with different standards for each:

The UA awarded 68 waivers to nonresidents in fall 1994. Without the waivers, the UA would see a projected loss of just over $1 million. The loss would come from books, fees, and other expenses paid to the university, said UA Provost Paul Sypherd. Addition ally, tuition waiver recipients contribute $3.12 million into the local economy.

Regent Kurt Davis offered a proposal to change the nonresident waivers program. Instead of scrapping the system, he said, he would propose that all waivers should be offered with the same standards among the Arizona university system.

He said all waivers should be offered for the first year enrolled in Arizona universities, including transfer students. International students would be required to have a 3.25 GPA, while academic merit waivers and fine arts waivers would have a minimum st andard of 3.0.

Other components of the proposal include freezing waivers at the current level among the universities, ensuring no existing students would lose their waivers due to the proposed changes, and adding a community service requirement.

"Adding community service would be a way to give back to taxpayers what students are getting through the waivers," Davis said.

Regent Chapa said he favored a need-based component to the criteria as well.

The regents will be drafting the proposal to discuss at a future meeting.

In other action, the Arizona Board of Regents approved the request by the UA to establish the Valley Fever Center for Excellence. The center will study valley fever prevention and treatment, education and public information, and patient resources. The cen ter will be funded largely through the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The center will be at the VA Medical Center, 3601 S. Sixth Ave., in Tucson.

The regents' meeting continues tomorrow.