Editorial: Students, faculty needed on Hull's task force
There must be a strange virus running through Phoenix.
It's a disease that spread to select members of the state Legislature, and has now hit the governor's office.
The key symptom -Ĝa complete negation of students' viewpoints on issues that directly impact students.
Rep. Jean McGrath, R-Glendale, has fallen victim. In a speech last month to the Arizona Board of Regents, she blasted the University of Arizona's Women's Studies department and called co-ed dorms immoral because they promote welfare dependence and pregnancy.
When students responded to McGrath's tirade by writing letters and calling her office, she dismissed the complaints.
"It's really the adult view of the world versus the student view of the world that has created the problem," she said.
Granted, this is one outspoken legislator running off at the mouth. Trouble is, it appears the governor has assumed the same low opinion of student issues.
While Arizona Gov. Jane Hull was wise to create a task force that develops educational strategies for the state's universities, the committee is missing some important voices.
Not one student or faculty member from the three state universities has been invited to take part in the 16-member task force.
Hull decided to allow the three university leaders -Ĝincluding UA President Peter Likins -Ĝto join the task force.
But Likins himself said last week that he would prefer to include student Regent Christine Thompson in the group.
Other student and faculty leaders also criticized Hull's decision last week.
Associated Students President Cisco Aguilar probably raised the most telling argument, saying "students are the direct impact of higher education."
Aguilar makes an important point. By not including people directly impacted by the committee's decisions, Hull is not listening to all sides of the issues.
And one has to wonder - what's the point of forming a committee to review university educational strategies without students or faculty?
Unfortunately, this blatant exclusion renders the group almost useless.
Likins and the other university presidents are strong representatives of the state's schools. But rarely do they enter classrooms nor do they fully understand the needs and desires of students and faculty members.
Faculty Chairman Jerrold Hogle said he "would have liked to see students and faculty represented." He added, however, that Likins and the two appointees from the Board of Regents have assured him that faculty voices will be heard.
But is that really enough? And can Hull guarantee the concerns of students and faculty will play a major role in her committee?
Of course not.
It seems, sadly enough, that Hull has changed her ways.
This is a governor who fought massive funding cuts that could have been imposed by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. She also supported a bill that helped protected students' Social Security numbers and has always denounced tuition increases.
Maybe that's why neglecting students on the task force is so surprising.
UA officials should continue fighting for student and faculty appointments to the task force.
Without these voices, Hull's committee will be uninformed and could make decisions that are detrimental to the very people they are trying to help.