ASUA attacks McGrath bills
ASUA senators last night vehemently voiced their displeasure with three bills proposed by state Rep. Jean McGrath, R-Glendale, and other members of the Arizona Legislature, claiming they restrict student rights.
Derick Kurdy, director of the Arizona Students Association, detailed the directive of the bills to the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Senate last night, as well as the actions that ASA is taking to oppose the bills.
"We are charged with the task of lobbying for the students of the state of Arizona," he said. "At the moment, all three Arizona universities are responding. (Northern Arizona University) is organizing a large letter-writing campaign and (Arizona State University) is running one as well. Here, we're doing an e-mail campaign.
"Almost every day, members of ASA are meeting with state senators and lobbying for the cause. ASA is very active in the Legislature this session," he added.
Kurdy said one bill that would prohibit sexually explicit material to be accessed on university computers is too vague and would hinder the studies that require pictures deemed "explicit."
"(It will) limit the access of university-owned computers to all material deemed sexually explicit. ASA is strictly opposed to this," he said.
"This would outlaw all nudity over the Internet, including famous art pieces and anatomy pictures used for class. This applies to all students - including graduate students and Ph.D. students," Kurdy said.
He said ASA also opposes the bill because of what it represents.
"This would be a state mandate denying any Internet use not deemed as educational," Kurdy said. "This states that education exists only in the classroom."
The ASUA Senate supported ASA motives and actions, and congratulated Kurdy on his efforts.
"After hearing what you have said here tonight, I fully support ASA's involvement, and we'll do everything we can to help your cause," said Sen. Ryan Roa.
Kurdy raised concerns with the Legislature over potential tuition increases, as well as the constitutionality of the bills.
"A very, very rough estimate would be $7 million per university," he said. "It would be a reason for a request for a raise in tuition. As far as the constitution, we have lawyers currently looking this up."
Another bill, which would prohibit students living in residence halls to have guests of the opposite sex in their rooms between midnight and 6 a.m., also received a great deal of criticism from the Senate. This bill passed 4-2 in the House Public Institutions and Universities Committee - which McGrath chairs - Tuesday and now goes before the House.
"We kind of expected it to pass through this committee, considering it is her own," Kurdy said. "There are a lot of problems with this bill. Instead of making it university policy, this bill will make it a state law."
ASUA Sen. Saad Nassim, said he and Executive Vice President Ben Graff have a unique perspective on the issue and that the bill would be unconstitutional if passed.
"We both served as RAs and some of the rules are very difficult to enforce," he said. "I think that it is unconstitutional. We cannot go into their rooms. That's not protected by the state constitution, but by the United States Constitution."
Sen. Lauren Hickey agreed and added that the perspective McGrath has taken is not congruent with current student opinion.
"The state law already mandates that dorm rooms are considered a student's private home," she said. "She feels that the students do poorly in school due to the high propensity of sex in dorms. I disagree with the bill on the principle that college is more than what you learn in the classroom. It's about interaction with other students. It's about growing up."
In another proposed bill, all alcoholic beverages would be prohibited in dorm rooms regardless of the resident's age.
The student senators disapproved of this bill as well, once again pointing out legal and constitutional problems.
"I don't think the state of Arizona has the right to say that even if you are over the drinking age of 21, you are prohibited to have alcohol in your dorm," Hickey said.