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Issue of the Year: The events that changed our lives

Illustration by Arnie Bermudez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
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A lot can happen in one year. From the pitiful football season to our No. 1 softball team. And that's only sports. There were UA issues with ASUA blunders and election code violations, and national ones with Democratic candidates and gay marriage. Each week, the opinions staff weighed in on an issue, and now, we take on a full year. There's a lot of news to cover and we only have so many words. Deal with it.

Tim Belshe

Remember the activity fee

The most important issue of the semester is definitely the botched attempt at starting a student activity fee - not because it had a great impact on society, but because it's not dead yet.

The fee will be back, and next time, the student leaders will remove their heads from their asses before they try to implement it. There will be a legitimate election on the issue, and when that day comes, it's important that the idea be put down like a stray cat crapping on your front porch.

It's great that student leaders want to bring more activities to campus, but they have to recognize that not everyone enjoys their activities. If they want to raise money for events, they ought to find ways of targeting the people who will see the benefits of the money. A program where people buy a pass at the beginning of the semester for these events would be ideal. Refundable or not, there's no justification for charging everyone on campus for something a minority of students will use.

The best, and to my knowledge only, semi-legitimate argument this year's student leaders were able to make for the fee was, "Everyone else is doing it." While I sincerely hope that our former student leaders wouldn't follow this logic if they were offered narcotics, it certainly would explain a lot.

Tim Belshe is a systems engineering junior. He can be reached at

Aaron Okin

Faculty support of planning key for UA

The decision by the Faculty Senate that the School of Planning should be spared elimination under President Likins' plan is the most significant thing that occurred this semester on this campus. When the body of faculty members' voted 35-2 overwhelmingly in favor of saving the school - formalizing a previous unanimous nonbinding vote - UA students, Tucson, and the state as a whole were placed into a position to derive a great benefit. The school, a nationally accredited program educating students on issues like managing growth, how to plan attractive urban areas and the spatial arrangement of border regions, is an asset to the university and the surrounding community. And the faculty realizes that.

After months of lobbying to the board of regents on the part of planning faculty and students, it is the faculty as a representation of the wider university community that sent the most resounding message to Likins' desk. From the beginning, Focused Excellence drew criticism because of the cuts it proposed, and with good reason - it was focused on nothing outside the university bubble, something hardly productive when considering the role of the university in Tucson, both socially and economically. Luckily for all spheres involved, the Faculty Senate had the ability to understand the implications of cutting such a vital program as planning even though the people charged with leading and administering them didn't.

Aaron Okin is a regional development and political science junior. He can be reached at

Brett Berry

The presidential election dominated

This year has been quite an eventful year on just about every level you can think of. There's been so much discussion and debate on so many issues - for the UA campus, for the country and even for the world - that it's hard to label one thing as being the big story of the year.

The most important thing that has happened (and is still happening) this year is the incredible presidential election madness. Dating back to the Democratic primaries, nearly every news story has been directly or indirectly tied to the upcoming election. And it's just getting started.

The fighting has been vicious, and it started earlier than ever before. The amount of money that has been and will be thrown around in this election is mind- boggling. Despite the poor economy of the last few years, it is expected that a record $1 billion will be spent on this presidential election. So much for campaign finance reform.

As it stands, a political line has been drawn across the country, with each side trying to pull every undecided voter onto their side by November. The country has been divided so sharply and deeply - by an alleged uniter, not a divider - that the 2004 election has become a sort of political D-Day for both parties.

The stakes have risen so high that this election's political impact may only be surpassed by the hype and buildup surrounding it. Every day, the tsunami that is Electionmania 2004 builds more and more momentum for both the right and left, with a head-on collision course set for Nov. 2.

It's a battle to the end: Bush vs. Kerry. There can be only one!

The horrifying realization, of course, is that the election is still about six months away. And I shudder at the thought of a possible repeat of the dreadful 2000 election.

Brett Berry is a regional development sophomore. He can be reached at

Sara Warzecka

Truth and politics can not coexist

This semester has been full of political controversy. Among all the events, two major presidential disappointments stand out the most.

At the end of January, the lead U.N. weapons inspector resigned and announced that his team had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The existence of WMD was a major part of Bush's basis for going to war. He said that these weapons made Saddam Hussein a threat to the United States and the entire world. Perhaps some Americans were shocked, but others had surely expected this news sooner. Nevertheless, it was certainly a blow to Bush at the beginning of campaigning season.

Then, Richard Clarke, Bush's former chief of counterterrorism, reported to the 9/11 commission that the Bush administration ignored warning signs of impending doom and slacked off in their intelligence responsibilities. The upheaval sent national security adviser Condoleeza Rice, the vice president and president to answer before the committee. But not before critics had a field day questioning why Rice was leery of testifying or why Bush and Cheney needed to see the committee together. Previously, there had been controversy over Bush's use of images from Sept. 11, 2001, in his ad campaign. But now it was revealed that Bush could have possibly prevented the wanton death and destruction. America can't wait to hear the next revelations before election day.

Sara Warzecka wishes all graduates the best of luck. She can be reached at

Jason Poreda

The new Stoops on the block

Looking back on this year, one of the biggest stories that pops out in my head was the firing of coach John Mackovic. But a bigger one is the hiring of new head football coach Mike Stoops. Whether we like to admit it, athletics is a huge part of our campus, and how our teams do plays a large part in how we are perceived on the national stage.

Let's face it, our football team sucks. For most of the year, I do everything in my power to forget the fact that we even have a football team, a hard thing to do when my friend at Purdue constantly reminds me how his team sent our team back to the Stone Age this past fall.

When Coach Stoops was hired, our dejected football team finally had something to cling to. I mean we got a Stoops! How the hell did we land that one? Even if he does just want to look good by bringing a losing team into the limelight, after last season, we'll take it! Wildcat faithfuls finally have a reason to buy a ticket and go to the stadium, and a full stadium is a great thing.

Now we just hope that we got the right Stoops, and that he was really one of the ones responsible for the success at Oklahoma, instead of just really good football players.

Jason Poreda is a political science and communication senior. He can be reached at

Justin St. Germain
Sports Editor

HIV shuts down the porn industry

One story this year rocked this campus - and the nation - like no other. It wasn't a campus issue like the tuition hike or the activity fee, or even national or world issues like election-year mudslinging or the war in Iraq.

No, this one hit home, creeping into our computer dens and making us think twice about what was under our mattresses.

Last month, an HIV scare shut down the U.S. porn industry.

The news hit hardest in the San Fernando Valley, Calif., the epicenter of intercourse. But, just like after one of the region's trademark earthquakes, the aftershocks were felt far and wide. Violence among 14-year-old males skyrocketed. The Internet, devoid of its reason for being, nearly collapsed from lack of traffic.

It all began when three of porn's performers tested positive for HIV. That set off a voluntary 60-day quarantine period that some pundits say has decreased porn output by 80 percent.

Then, just last week, a transvestite porn star named "Jennifer" tested positive. Thankfully, both of the men involved in his/her last photo shoot two weeks prior tested negative.

Actress Mary Carey, who ran against Arnold Schwarzenegger in the California recall election, said that porn stars all over have "come together" in support of the infected actors.

But help is on the way. Former industry insider Sharon Mitchell, perhaps best known for star-making turns in "Jail Bait" and "Captain Lust and the Pirate Women," is pushing hard to clean up after the porn industry. Dubbed "the Mother Teresa of porn" by her colleagues, she has lobbied adult film producers to make testing mandatory.

It seems the threat has been contained, and now millions of Americans can once again feel relief.

Justin St. Germain is a senior majoring in creative writing and English. He can be reached at

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