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Connecting The Dots: Finally, UA is getting some relief

Illustration by Arnie Bermudez
By Daniel Scarpinato
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, May 4, 2004
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After three years of turmoil, the UA deserved a break. So, a year mostly full of good news was just what the doctor ordered. And the UA got it.

Let's face it, our campus faced some hard times over the past few years: the College of Nursing shootings, financial disaster, drama on the football field, not to mention coping with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the war in Iraq.

But with some rare exceptions, this year turned out to be a huge turnaround. The bad news translated to good.

A few weeks ago, while cleaning out some old files of mine, I came across a treasure chest of sorts my old files as a campus reporter: notes from conversations with President Peter Likins, Provost George Davis and former ASUA President Ray Quintero.

Daniel Scarpinato

Written records from behind-the-scenes tours with people like UofA Bookstore head honcho Frank Farias; the underground Integrated Learning Center's most passionate supporter, Lynn Tronsdal; and student union king Dan Adams.

There were also official records, like fallen student leader Jared Mansell's complaint against honor student Sam Zipp, whose campaign manager in a closely watched student election allegedly tore down the cunning Mansell's signs.

All those notes, gathered from spring 2001 through spring 2003, had a common theme: bad news.

Sure, the UA isn't totally without its problems today, but there is no denying that the uncertainty and negative headlines of yesterday have translated into something far different today.

The UA is entering a point of changing directions.

Real changing directions, not the slick PR rip-off campaign UA presidents tried to sell to us a year ago.

Gone are the days of harsh budget cuts. The campus can finally say hello to brighter, more stable days. Programs are being saved. Spirit is sharpening up. And for goodness sake, almost all of the Mall is available for our use again.

But did we overestimate the problems we faced just a year or two ago?

Really, everything short of the College of Nursing shootings was not completely different from things that were happening at other major universities across the country.

At the Wildcat, we get college papers from all over the country mailed into the newsroom. As a beat reporter and editor during UA's dark days, I scanned those front pages almost daily.

And they all reported the same news: program cuts, tuition hikes, student protests these were nothing unique to the UA.

There are some who would like you to think that as a result, our problems on campus are of little importance.

They want campus caught only in debates over Israel and Palestine, for instance, not student election scandals.

And to be honest, our local campus problems do seem rather trivial in the face of the world's problems. Still, that doesn't make them unimportant.

If students had not fought passionately over tuition increases or activity fees, the UA would not have been without change.

In fact, another positive change on campus has been the context in which debate takes place.

Not too long ago, campus dialogue and the exchange of ideas was monopolized and unfairly characterized by senseless protesters who sought to draw false and misleading connections among the decisions of UA leaders and those of national and international leaders.

A posse of half-cocked debaters forced us to listen to their cries about how the UA was supporting private prisons, encouraging slave and sweatshop labor and displacing a few poor baby squirrels in the pursuit of advancing science and the understanding of the universe and mankind.

This year, those ideological gangsters lost their soapbox and audience when the campus finally said "shut up."

Maybe the reason our campus is entering better times is because the debate is becoming localized and sophisticated, with students and administrators thinking and discussing issues and problems logically rather than irrationally.

I threw away all those old notes I found just a couple weeks ago. I'm graduating, and it's time for me to put that part of my life behind me.

The UA has already done the same, graduating into a new point of security and stability.

All that bad news is just old newspapers now. But then again, I guess now, so am I.

Daniel Scarpinato is a journalism and political science senior. He's a former Wildcat editor in chief, current editor of The Desert Yearbook and can be reached at

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