Board of Regents should support University Accountability Act
To the editor,
This letter is in response to the Wildcat article on the tuition cap bill. Its companion bill, HB 2657 (a.k.a. the University Accountability Act) would require the Arizona Board of Regents and university officials to ensure a more open political process by allowing for:
Public participation and input, by holding at least one public meeting on all proposed tuition & fee increases.
Public accountability, by requiring a roll call vote of all final decisions concerning tuition and fee increases.
Public notification, by requiring announcements of tuition & fee hearings in general circulation newspapers in Maricopa, Pima, and Coconino counties.
While it was reported that Regents' President Judy Gignac said the board already does everything stated in the bill, I must respectfully and adamantly disagree.
The truth is, although there's an annual tuition hearing, all proposed tuition and fee increases are never fully disclosed to the public prior to the hearing. University presidents typically keep their "recommendations" secret until the last minute. The total of proposed fee increases are not made public until weeks after the hearing. Sadly, no public testimony is allowed during the final vote because the public's time to comment was supposedly weeks prior at the tuition hearing. But how does one testify on proposals that have yet to be unveiled?
Although Ms. Gignac contends that the Board of Regents "already does everything" regarding public notice of hearings, a Website posting or press release falls far short of responsible public disclosure.
Why not post an announcement of the hearing's time, place and location, and proposed tuition and fee increases in campus papers? Why not give parents and students a chance at testifying by posting a notice in the Republic, Sun, or Citizen papers? What good is a public hearing if no one knows about it?
An informed and active citizenry helps to ensure accountability of our public institutions and universities. HB 2657 is a fair and responsible piece of legislation. Instead of opposing it, the Board of Regents ought to embrace it - especially if the board "already does everything."
Arizona Students' Association