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Friday November 17, 2000

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Best present would be to lower tuition

By The Arizona Daily Wildcat Opinions Board

It's that time of year again. Arizona's state universities begin asking for funding, in the form of tuition increases, like three big kiddies asking for Christmas presents. And, as the familiar refrain goes, "But, Mom, Dad, I really need a Super-Duper Whiz-Bang Dilly-bob with glow-in-the-dark paint and flashing lights!" Can you just hear President Peter Likins? "But ABOR, I really need students to give me $700 more each!" But does he? Do the universities really need a tuition increase above and beyond the rate of inflation?

Some Arizona Board of Regents members seem to think so. Last year, Hank Amos and some other ABOR members indicated that they are not vehemently opposed to a large tuition increase. Hell, they may not even be opposed to it all. Last year, the universities' presidents asked for $100 tuition increase. Of course, students insisted otherwise, but ABOR still handed over an $84 increase.

"Well, maybe if you're really good, Petey, Santa will bring you a Super-Duper glow-in-the-dark whatever."

So the universities think they need more tuition money, and ABOR thinks they need more tuition money, and maybe even the state legislature thinks so. But, they're not gonna give it to us. We had to fight those tightwads for every penny we got, so it's safe to assume they don't want to give us any money - especially now that Proposition 301 has passed.

But again, do the universities really need more money?


Do they need more tuition money?


"What you really need is a nice, warm sweater. Maybe Grandma will knit you one."

It seems that the universities' most pressing need is faculty retention. Faculty retention takes money. In September, the UA asked for upwards of $50 million for faculty retention. ASU went even higher than that. NAU asked for $26 million.

But, tuition does not go to faculty salaries. The rationale behind that one is that it's the state's responsibility to pay university faculty because they're state employees. So, a tuition increase above the necessary rate of inflation plus one wouldn't help with this problem.

What about all this construction going on? Someone has to pay for that. Someone does: taxpayers. Construction is paid for by bonds or private donations - a gift almost as good as the Super-Duper glow-in-the-dark light flashy thing.

So, if our pocket money won't keep professors here, and it won't give us lots of pretty new buildings, what do universities need it for? Maintenance, upkeep and the usual expenditures should be covered by a modest increase keeping with inflation.

"Now, Peter, you will not die if you don't get a Super-Duper thing that glows in the dark."

"But, Mom, Dad...."

But, nothin'. Tuition only amounts to about $30 million of our roughly $900 million budget.

In this state, universities need to grab every penny they can get, but if they don't have a plan for our pennies, then we have better things to do with them. We don't want a tuition increase if the university doesn't need it. When was the last time you got exactly the present you asked for?