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Benedict just a pawn in Likins' game

Illustration by Arnie Bermudez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 2, 2003

Put up the shields and arm the torpedoes, ASUA! President Likins planned and executed an ambush with the ruse of helping our fearless leader, ASUA President J. P. Benedict, who took the bait, hook, line and sinker.

Last Tuesday, President Benedict, in a valiant effort to be a responsible leader, was quoted in the Wildcat as saying he will support President's Likins' tuition proposal this year, but question the rate at which the raise will affect UA students.

This should have been "stop the presses" news! Last year, it was like pulling teeth to get anything out of ASUA about tuition. It wasn't until two weeks before the Arizona Board of Regents meeting where tuition would be set that ASUA finally came out with its secret proposal.

"I have nothing to hide; I was trying to think out loud," Benedict said when asked why he spoke so early this year. Given that part of being a good leader is listening to the people you represent, at first I jumped for joy. I almost sent a congratulatory fruit basket up to ASUA for a job well done. It wasn't until later that the diabolical scheme of President Likins was revealed.

Jason Poreda

"I hope that ASUA won't challenge the policy, but rather challenge the rate at which the UA moves toward the policy," Likins said last Tuesday. "I understand that the student body president is in a different position than the UA president."

Isn't that nice of President Likins? He's understanding and said it was okay for ASUA to challenge how fast the tuition raise occurs. He threw President Benedict a bone, something that he could claim as his own, and President Benedict jumped at it.

In doing so, he gave ASUA an unofficial stance on tuition that doesn't make sense. Wanting to bring UA to the "the top of the bottom one-third" compared to other state universities is something that most everyone can agree to. Wanting this raise to be spread out over several years without knowing how much President Likins is going to propose is not.

In order to bring and keep the UA's tuition at the 33rd percentile, tuition will have to be raised every year. Reducing the amount of the raise this year will only add to next year's raise, and then the year after that. Eventually, we will have to raise tuition thousands of dollars to catch up or fall down to the bottom of the barrel yet again. There is no way this will work.

President Likins either hasn't thought of what spreading out the raise will do, which is doubtful, or is trying to avoid a repeat of last year, when he was blind-sided by a proposal from the student government. He wants ASUA to say something, anything on tuition, no matter how ridiculous it is, to avoid another proposal at the last minute.

"We have to think long term; we are only in this position because of what has been done in the past," Benedict said. The stance that he took in the Wildcat flies in the face of this idea. There is no long-term benefit to spreading this raise out. The best long-term solution is to bring it up all at once, then keep tuition at that level with a series of raises in the years to come. Perhaps he should have taken his own advise before deciding to voice his position.

ASUA and ASA, our student lobbying group, can't take an official position until we find out exactly how much the raise will be, which could be in a week or a few months. But does it really matter if they do at all?

The perception is that ASUA has already taken a stance, and a bad one. The ASUA president said out loud that he is in favor of a tuition raise, but wants to challenge the rate at which this raise is introduced.

President Likins has effectively sent ASUA into a holding pattern. From here on, they will have to justify this stance or explain why they changed their minds, despite never officially taking a position.

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

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