By Daniel Scarpinato
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday Mar. 25, 2002
Organizers will lobby legislators to fund university growth
Student leaders will ask for increased higher education support from the state at a rally outside the State Capitol tomorrow, serving as a prelude to April's tuition negotiations.
The rally, called "failing our future," is being organized by the Arizona Students' Association and will present a broader theme than ASA's "no more than four" campaign did last semester, said director Jenny Rimzsa.
With the population of Arizona expected to double over the next 20 years, student lobbyists want promises from legislators on how they plan to deal with this increased growth on the university level.
The rally will aim to illustrate that higher education is "an economic engine for the state," while still appreciating that Arizona is faced with a major budget shortfall, said Associated Students' President Ray Quintero.
"The idea is not to quote any specific tuition number or find support for any specific university," Rimzsa said. "It's something anyone in Arizona can get behind."
She said speakers at the rally will challenge the current attitude legislators have about the state's three universities, which she argues is one of apathy.
"The state legislators are failing the state universities and the state in general," Quintero said. "Right now, we feel like (the universities) are the last priority of the state."
Speakers will include Rimzsa, Quintero, student regents Matthew Meaker and Myrina Robinson and student representatives from Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.
Quintero said speakers will also address a proposal by legislators to take back 50 percent of tuition dollars to pay for other state needs.
The rally comes only weeks before the Arizona Board of Regents decides how much Arizona students will pay in tuition next year.
While ASA has yet to clarify the position it will take on the matter, the lobbying group has historically pushed for no tuition increase.
Rimzsa said ASA will be careful to compromise on the matter. Last year, she said, students accepted a tuition increase under the agreement that academic advising would be reformed, but she said she has not been satisfied with the university's commitment to that issue.
UA President Peter Likins said outside last week's Arizona Board of Regents meeting that he will propose raising tuition by at least 10 percent. That would raise tuition by about $250 for in-state students.
"The tuition debates are going to be a lot messier this year," Rimzsa said. "Regents are already getting pressure from legislators to raise tuition."
UA Provost George Davis said at a faculty senate meeting earlier this month that he favors a $1,500 increase over the next three to five years, which would put UA's tuition at the top of the bottom third of public universities nationwide.
"It's an affordability issue," he said at the last faculty senate meeting.
Likins and Davis have been fully supportive of ASA's movements. The "no more than four campaign" included collaboration from administrators.
Complimentary buses will provide students with transportation to the capitol, leaving from the Old Main flagpole at 9 a.m. and returning by 4 p.m.