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Graduate students support lower increase

CASSIE TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Student body President Alistair Chapman and UA President Peter Likins reiterated their tuition plans at a tuition forum in the Harvill building yesterday. The forum connected six university campuses in Arizona through live telecast feeds.
By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, March 3, 2005
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Graduate students voiced their opposition to the administrative tuition proposal last night at a statewide tuition hearing, asking for an even lower graduate increase than ASUA's proposal.

In their tuition counterproposal, members of the Graduate and Professional Student Council called for an increase of 8 percent for resident graduates and 3.12 percent for nonresident graduates, which is less than President Peter Likins' recommendation of 14.12 percent and 4.54 percent and the Associated Students of the University of Arizona's proposal of 10.12 percent and 3.25 percent, respectively.

Amanda Brobbel, president of GPSC, said Likins' graduate tuition increase is disproportionately higher than his undergraduate increase, which is at 10.01 percent, because the additional revenue from the graduate increase would be used in part to fund graduate assistant tuition remission to 70 percent.

Brobbel said the policy is unfair because it means graduate students who are not graduate assistants would have to cover teacher assistant remission, while undergraduate students and research faculty are the ones who benefit from TAs.

"It's unfair to students like myself and other non-TAs to subsidize it," said James Eddy, vice president of external affairs for GPSC.

ASUA President Alistair Chapman also presented his proposal to the Arizona Board of Regents, asking to increase tuition for undergraduate residents by 8 percent, while setting aside $30 per student toward course availability and funding the graduate assistant tuition remission to 70 percent.

Undergraduate students and members of the community said they supported lower tuition increases, coupled with financial aid and course support.

Mark Thompson, a geography junior, said with the decrease in state and government financial aid, he would prefer to see a $100 tuition increase as long as revenue went toward financial aid and course availability.

"All my classes are overbooked," Thompson said. "It puts an unfair burden on the professors."

But Regent Fred Boice said although he was interested in student opinions, he was also frustrated. While many students voiced support for class availability, financial aid and higher faculty salaries, Boice pointed out they were against the tuition increases.

"You want to make it affordable," Boice said. "But you can't just print diplomas."

Non-voting Student Regent Ben Graff said he was glad to see a dialogue between regents and students because it gave students the chance to "add faces to all the numbers."

Graff, who was ASUA president during the 2000-2001 school year, said although it is odd for him to be sitting on the "other side" with regents, he is impressed with the student tuition proposal this year.

Still, Boice said some speakers at the forum had a "lack of understanding."

Students from UA South spoke against tuition increases, although Likins repeatedly said he proposed no tuition increase for UA South.

Michael Beisch, a Tucson resident, said the UA should deduct 15 percent of faculty and staff salaries, citing high salaries in particular for the men's football and basketball coaches.

"The university is not here to make a lot of money, said Beisch. "The university is here to educate our young people."

However, the UA athletics department is an auxiliary enterprise and supports itself without taking any money from the university, said Dick Roberts, director of the UA budget office. Nonetheless, students from all three state universities asked regents to support lower tuition increases.

Regent President Gary Stuart said while some believe the regents have already made up their minds about tuition, the sentiment is untrue.

"We listen to your fears very carefully," Stuart said.

Because of policy issues, regents cannot discuss their thoughts on tuition until next week, but Graff said he looks forward to the "explosion of conversation and opinions" which will take place.

Regents will set tuition March 10 and 11 at their next meeting at the UA.

- Jennifer Amsler contributed to this report.

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