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Issue of the Week: Top stories of the semester

Illustration by Arnie Bermudez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
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Top stories of the semester

In the past semester, much has changed at the UA. We have - among other things - a new tuition hike, a new head football coach, and a new traffic light. What single event made the biggest impact on campus? What event should have? We asked our columnists: What was the issue of the semester?

Underage drinking gets busted

This semester saw a mighty change to a long-standing UA tradition: underage drinking. The disturbing new trend of actually enforcing drinking laws first shocked students on Aug. 29 when, after a promise to combat underage drinking and alcohol-related violence, police broke up a huge courtyard party at Jefferson at Star Ranch apartments. At the end of the night, 125 minors had been arrested and 57 were sitting in jail, wondering what had gone so terribly wrong.

In addition to monitoring popular party places, police vowed to keep a close eye on bars, liquor stores and convenience stores. With an ultimate goal of wiping fake identification from the face of the city and quelling parties catering to underage drinkers, the police and the community have declared that they've finally had enough of a campus once known as a college party mecca.

Sabrina Noble

Late November brought new alliances with state agencies to further reduce drinking code violations; the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, the governor's office and the Arizona Highway Patrol announced they would be homing in on Arizona's state universities for the holiday season.

All told, law enforcement has changed the face of fun for an entire generation of underage students. Whether this will affect permanent change or will only prompt partygoers to adopt more clever methods is yet to be seen. But judging by the number of freshmen stumbling around each Friday night and the multitude of fake IDs still in circulation, a golden era of all-legal drinking is something law enforcement can only dream about.

Sabrina Noble is a senior majoring in creative writing. She can be reached at

A turn in the right direction

Daniel Scarpinato

After 16 long years, city planners finally were kind enough to grant drivers and pedestrians a left turn signal at the intersection of North Park Avenue and East Speedway Boulevard.

Despite nearly all-day gridlock and a higher-than-appropriate number of accidents, Tucson bureaucrats were beyond slow in realizing and addressing a terribly dangerous situation.

The cries of potential student government officials in election after election and lobbying from campus planners took years to resonate with the city.

But early this semester, a new era was signaled when the lights went up and traffic started moving. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic could finally live in harmony.

Of course, the light didn't solve all the traffic problems in the area. North Park Avenue as a whole still remains plagued with potholes problematic to pedestrians and drivers. One can't help but wonder if planners dragged their feet on a Park-Speedway signal in an effort to keep people off Park and avoid fixing the potholes.

The plot wouldn't have worked anyway. Considering the exciting amount of development, from restaurants to housing, slated for the west university district, the street will only see more congestion.

Let's just hope planners don't wait 16 more years to give the rest of the street the facelift it needs.

Daniel Scarpinato is a journalism and political science senior. He can be reached at

Students will remember new tuition proposal

Kendrick Wilson

Of all the important issues that came to light this semester, the one that is sure to have the most lasting effect on students is a hefty proposed tuition increase that will burden students in the coming year, on the heels of last year's significant tuition hike.

Students will soon forget much of what happened this semester, but when their pocketbooks are hit harder every future semester, they will be reminded of the regressive tax the UA places on its students.

Most students will be able to afford increased tuition, and students at the bottom of the financial spectrum will be covered by financial aid. The students who will be most affected by heightened tuition fall between the cracks of those who can afford tuition and those who receive financial aid.

Supporters of increased tuition often claim that a UA education is still one of the best values in the country. Nonetheless, a good value means nothing to people who can't afford it.

In future years, will the UA be properly funded as a public university and provide higher education for the masses? It's difficult to predict, but at least for now the powers that be have made it clear that students will increasingly be the targets of regressive taxes they call tuition.

Kendrick Wilson is a political science junior. He can be reached at

Firing - and hiring - our gridiron guide

Jason Poreda

No story was talked about as passionately or as much this semester as the firing of head football coach John Mackovic and his replacement, Mike Stoops of the University of Oklahoma.

I will be the first to admit that it seems ironic to call the football team the biggest story of the semester after what has been a very forgettable season, but it was how incredibly bad they were that made the story so important. We Wildcats are very passionate about a great many things, but our sports teams are put on a pedestal of their own.

With the amount of money wrapped up in this issue in salaries, TV deals and ticket sales, everyone from the diehard fan to the student who has to ask what a first down is has an opinion about how to improve our team. Because of this attention, when one of our teams turns into a bottom-of-the-barrel scrub squad that can't find the end zone with a flashlight and map, it becomes the biggest story in Tucson. "How could this happen to our team?" we all asked in bewilderment. Well, this time the answer was the coach. We sent Mac packing and re-named the road to success Stoops Ave.

When we look back at this semester years from now, we will know it as the season Stoops arrived and either saved us or destroyed what little we had.

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

Isn't there a war going on somewhere?

Jessica Lee

"Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation," said Martin Luther King Jr.

The issue of the semester cannot be anything but the war on Iraq. Those who pay attention to daily news are aware that hardly a day passes where an American has not been injured or lost their life - nearly 450 military personnel have been killed and more than 2,500 have been injured. And more terribly, between 7,935 and 9,766 Iraqis have been killed, according to

The problem is that most Americans are not seeing the flipside to war - the grief and terror, the trickles of blood in the street, the unloading of caskets. Our American media is consciously failing to portray war, the war that Iraqi children see walking to school and the war that flashes daily before coalition soldiers.

This issue is not to justify an anti-war stance. Rather, it is to encourage students to pay attention to the realities and consequences of this war. We should feel obligated to learn all the facts, not just what is spoon-fed to us over mainstream media. Inevitably, there will be consequences to the innocent losses, both on the American psyche and our national security, as a result of Iraqis who feel they have nothing left to lose.

Jessica Lee is an environmental science senior. She can be reached at

Higher learning, in more ways than one

Jennifer Kursman

After a long semester of struggling to understand the perspectives of those who hold different viewpoints from our own, it's time to join together and celebrate the end of the term.

College is a place where many people encounter, for the first time, others who act or look or talk in a way that deviates from their preconceived "norm." This fall, debates related to issues of tolerance raged in various forms throughout campus. The Harvard study that recommended increasing diversity in order to decrease alcohol consumption seemed to have holes in its logic. As the UA swelled to record proportions, the renaming of the Economics building was criticized as a lame attempt on President Likins' part to make the UA a Hispanic-serving institution. Finally, religious tensions on campus were highlighted during the observance of religious holidays.

The most important theme this semester is to remain open-minded and tolerant of others whose beliefs may challenge our assumptions. Acceptance does not mean embracing someone else's beliefs as your own; it involves taking a step back, striving to see a different point of view and recognizing that people are entitled to their own opinions. Many future employers will see our college diplomas as more than a testament to our test-taking skills - our degrees will show that we are capable of treating diverse co-workers in a mature fashion. As you stuff yourself with sugar and caffeine in preparation for finals, don't forget that the most substantial lessons often come not from the books, but the people around us.

Jennifer Kursman is a biochemistry freshman. She can be contacted at

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