By Keren G. Raz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 9, 2002
With all the discussion of President Peter Likins' "Focused Excellence" plan, student leaders are working to understand the effect the plan will have on students, especially in regard to tuition and admissions standards.
Last year at this time, the student government and student lobbyists were gearing up to fight administration's desire to raise tuition. This year, both organizations are reluctant to declare their stance on the issues.
It's premature to take a position, said student body president Doug Hartz.
"We want students to start thinking and talking about tuition so we can have a discussion throughout the entire year, rather than during a two-hour tuition hearing," he said.
Ryan Patterson, co-director of student lobbyist group Arizona Students' Association, said that ASA has not decided on its position with regards to the tuition. Instead ASA set a guideline for the organization in August to "keep an open line of communication between regents, administration and students."
Tuition-setting usually boils down to a fight between administrators and student lobbyists. The more Likins wants to raise tuition, the more student lobbyists fight the increase, and vice versa.
However, as student leaders discuss options with the Arizona Board of Regents and administration, Likins is already strongly advocating an additional tuition increase this year.
Likins said Friday that his goal is to systematically ramp-up tuition over a 5-year time period.
Likins is eyeing other institutions that have increased tuition by more than $1,000 over the past two years.
"I think it's quite possible that tuition will go up because the student leadership thus far, the university presidents and the regents are all supportive of a tuition increase," said Student Regent Matt Meaker, a voting member.
The regents increased tuition by $96 for in-state students and $750 for out-of-state students last year.
Rimsza said that ASA is exploring different options if in fact tuition is increased.
She said ASA will fight for students to be able to know where there tuition dollars are going.
In addition, Melanie Rainer, ASA co-director, has been researching the possibility of implementing a concept known as grandfathering, by which students currently at the university would keep the same tuition. Only the incoming class each year would have to pay the higher rates.
Robert Thacker, a junior majoring in English, supports a tuition increase.
"I think it's a good idea. For one thing, I think it's too easy to get into this school, as well as I think tuition is too low."
Theater arts senior Stephanie Itule is against a tuition increase.
"Most students struggle to keep up their grades and finances as well. Raising tuition just adds to that burden."
Rainer said that she has "big problems with raising admissions standards," another part of Focused Excellence.
She said that the university needs to look at the Tucson community because "if some students around here don't get into UA, they won't go to ASU or NAU. If students don't get into UA, then we could end someone's college career."
Hartz said that accessibility needs to be addressed as a high priority. He is trying to look into the impact raising admissions standards would have on the student community.
Biochemistry department head Thomas Baldwin said future UA students who are admitted would be up for a bigger challenge if the bar for admissions were raised.
"Prepare yourself for a top-flight university education. If you're not prepared for a top education, then go somewhere else," he said.