State lawmaker tells regents co-ed dorms are immoral
TEMPE - An Arizona lawmaker yesterday accused the three state universities of endorsing immoral behavior by having co-ed residence halls.
"I cannot understand why a public university would want to have a co-ed dormitory - it's just beyond me," Rep. Jean McGrath, R-Glendale, told the regents yesterday during their first meeting of the academic year. "It's not conducive to anything. I find no justification for the state to be supporting immorality."
McGrath, chair of the house public institutions and universities committee, said different genders sharing the same building is an unnecessary distraction and encourages larger problems like teenage pregnancies and welfare dependence.
"We spend a great deal of time fighting teenage pregnancies. We're working very hard to get people off of welfare," she said. "I think the universities are contributing to these problems with their co-ed dormitories."
McGrath also raised a complaint with course descriptions at the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University - where yesterday's meeting was held.
"I would appreciate it very much if you would match the course description with the actual course content. We have gotten complaints at the Legislature from people who have stumbled into a women's studies class. It turns out it should have been labeled lesbian studies," McGrath said. "I don't see any benefit in having a lesbian studies class, but if you want to, it's up to you."
Last semester, McGrath and other legislators threatened to eliminate funding for the UA's women's studies program, based on homosexual content in reading materials used in one course.
McGrath also criticized an instructor who made readings available at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave., a store that she said catered to homosexuals and other minority groups.
She also told the regents about her plan to filter pornography from all of the state's computers.
"Everyone I talk to is in support of us doing our best to eliminate pornography from all the state-owned, state-run computer systems," McGrath said.
Following her speech, Regent John Munger thanked her for sharing her views.
"We were all selected by a conservative governor," Munger said, referring to the board. "We are all fiscally and socially conservatives and for the most part on the same page as you."
In other business, the regents decided to submit two costly proposals -additional UA building renewal funds and faculty salary increases - to the Legislature for approval.
The two requests will be combined into one general appropriation bill, meaning it will have to be approved by the Senate, House of Representatives and Republican Gov. Jane Hull.
Board members initially discussed sending only one of the budget requests to Hull, but both issues were deemed of such importance that the regents and UA officials said immediate action was necessary.
With the action, the board will now seek about $18 million more during the next two years to upgrade the quality of buildings in the three universities. The UA would receive about $7 million of the proposed increase.
While the issue of upping the allotment for campus facilities is critical, UA President Peter Likins said increasing the salaries for faculty and staff is higher on his priority list.
"If we were free to have a choice, we would select salaries," Likins said. "Buildings can still be seen to a year later."
Earlier this week, Likins said the UA is struggling to stay competitive with universities across the country, adding that "tens of millions of dollars" are needed to offer appropriate salaries for faculty and staff.
Regent Don Ulrich said both issues were overlooked by lawmakers during the last legislative session.
"In the state system, everybody's underpaid and every building is falling down," Ulrich said. "I don't think the Legislature has made up their mind whether they care."