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UA must raise tuition to battle budget cut disaster

By Wildcat Opinions Board

Wednesday October 3, 2001

The recession is hitting this university hard. Earlier this week, UA president Peter Likins announced the university will enact a hiring freeze, meaning essentially no staff will be hired between now and Dec. 1. But that's not the only negative effect the university will suffer because of the state budget shortage - in fact, it is just the tip of the iceberg. And as unpopular of an opinion as it may be, this university must raise tuition to save this sinking ship.

Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull made a special trip to Tucson last week to personally give us the bad news. Because of the recession, and because of the subsequent shortages in the state budget, the UA will be forced to make budget cuts, making the university even less of a player nationally and internationally than it already was.

Building projects may be suspended, and programs designed to improve the current system will have their budgets cut. The UA's new Integrated Learning Center, the impressive and technologically superior underground facility that has been heralded with great expectation from both students and faculty, may not open on schedule.

But most importantly, the quality of education at the UA will suffer.

The hiring freeze may be the most dire piece of news concerning the recent budget cuts, and once again "Brain Drain," UA's inability to keep quality educators on an uncompetitive budget, has reared its stubborn head. Fewer professors, coupled with the inevitable rise in student enrollment, spells disaster. Larger classes means a less-personal education, which means that quality will suffer at the hands of quantity.

UA officials are doing their best to keep faculty and staff at the UA. Across-the-board salary increases scheduled for April may actually be larger than previously expected. This is wonderful news. It shows that the administration is determined to become competitive when it comes to paying professors what they deserve. They are doing their part, now it's time for us to do ours. If we want this university to continue to be one of the best public institutions in this country, if we want classroom sizes to be at reasonable sizes, and if we want the ILC to eventually become the incredible facility that it could be, we need tuition increases.

The most common argument to this suggestion is usually borrowed from our state constitution, which states that at the university, "the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible." This is a noble and respectable article in our constitution, however, this state already ranks 47th in education spending, and this university ranks 47th for in-state tuition.

What it comes down to is, you pay for what you get. Stanford isn't having budget problems right now because every student pays over $30,000. But we feel that it is necessary to educate everyone in our state, including the financially unprivileged. Tuition hikes are necessary when our university is not getting the state funding it deserves. They are necessary when the quality of our education will suffer without them. And they are necessary right now.


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