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What we students have to be thankful for

Illustration by Cody Angell
By Caitlin Hall
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday November 26, 2002

This Thursday, as I sit down to a heaping plate of mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce sans turkey, I'll be giving thanks for some equally untraditional collegiate blessings. Here's a look at a few things we, as UA students, should be thanking, praying for and toasting.

Enormous tuition hikes. Somebody say hallelujah. Anyone? All right, so there probably won't be too many UA students bowing their heads to thank the Lord for the privilege of dishing out an extra cold grand every year for the rest of their undergraduate careers. However, the prospect of a huge tuition hike ¸ the likes of which this university has never seen ¸ is nothing short of a holiday miracle. The Arizona Board of Regents is finally waking up to the desperate situation unfolding in our state Legislature and responding in an appropriately drastic way. However, the tuition hike isn't primarily a means of generating more revenue for the university, but instead a way of creating Ě
Caitlin Hall

More financial aid. Despite the UA's čber-low tuition, it was given a D-minus in affordability by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education due to its pitiful lack of need-based financial aid. Likins et al. have promised to set aside a whopping 14 percent of new tuition revenues for financial aid, a marked increase from the current rate of 8 percent. In addition to offsetting the increase in cost for students who can't afford it, a $1,000 tuition hike would reduce the university's unmet financial aid by $500,000. What a revolutionary idea: Those who can't afford higher education on their own will be able to go to school just like the rich kids! It's like the perfect Thanksgiving turkey: deliciously tempting and just a little pink.

The yet-to-be-witnessed mercy of the state Legislature. Here's a chance for religious folks to do a little yuletide warm-up, a bit of preemptive praying. Start now, because by turkey time, our fate will be decided ¸ duty be damned, the Legislature isn't about to stay in special session through Thanksgiving. Consider yourself forewarned, however: Though Gov. Hull hears all prayers, the answer is sometimes ¸ in fact, nearly exclusively ¸ no. The UA will almost certainly have to shoulder an $18 million budget cut ¸ 5 percent of its state funding ¸ on top of the $90 million that has already been slashed in the last two years. Even if all the wishing and hoping and planning and praying in the world won't help, though, many will doubtless do their part to battle funding woes on the day after Thanksgiving, when we all collectively pay homage to the god of... Unabashed consumerism. It was low sales revenues and, by extension, low state sales tax revenues, that got us into this budget crunch in the first place. Of course, greater consumer confidence and spending won't necessarily mean more money will make its way to state universities, especially given that it's infinitely easier to cut funding than to increase it; but heck, everyone's going to spend a fortune anyway, so why not go for broke with noble aims? Let's all make like FDR and spend our way out of recession. And as long as we're all festively committing acts of pseudo-goodwill, let us not forget to take a moment out of our frenetic cash purging to give thanks for... Surface parking lots. An exceedingly rare species, the prized UA surface parking lot may soon become extinct at the merciless hands of the affordable-parking poachers, a.k.a. UA planners. As if current permit prices weren't egregious enough, the UA wants to eliminate the only spots that might possibly be construed as reasonably priced to make room for more ultra-expensive garages ¸ which, of course, have to be ridiculously pricey in order to pay for their own needless construction. As if that weren't enough, planners want to jack up garage permit prices to "discourage people from driving to campus." Anyone else catch the stench of economic discrimination?

So let us, as UA students, give thanks for the bounty we are about to receive in the form of a tuition hike, pray for the bounty we will likely lose in the form of budget cuts, and toast the bountiful mercy of surface parking. And after all the leftovers are packed away, all the holiday records dug out of storage, all the wishbones snapped and belts loosened, let us do our festive, school-spirited, patriotic duty and spend, spend, spend.

You know we'd do it anyway.


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