Regents to set 2005-06 tuition today

By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Arizona Board of Regents will set tuition today, but despite the efforts of students and administrators, regents said they might reject both tuition proposals.

Regent Robert Bulla said that because the university is in a deficit right now, which is expected to increase next year, he is working with other regents on separate tuition increases that would not hurt the university.

"I really do sympathize, I really applauded the students' efforts," Bulla said. "But I'm afraid some of those proposals might drop the university into more of a deficit than they can afford to be in right now."

In an interview with the Arizona Daily Wildcat earlier this week, Gov. Janet Napolitano said she also believed regents will reject both proposals.

Napolitano, an ex-officio member of the regents, said she suspects the regents will compromise on the two plans and pass an entirely different proposal.

Regent Ernest Calderon said he is comfortable with an 8 to 8.5 percent increase as it stands, but he also expects that regents will combine the two proposals.

But Calderon said he is more concerned about students having a unified voice on tuition.

Although the Associated Student of the University of Arizona released a tuition proposal last month, intended to represent all students, the Graduate and Professional Student Council released a counterproposal last week, a move that is confusing regents and frustrating ASUA officials.

Calderon, who voted against Likins' proposal last year, said that although he believes both student proposals were well researched, he does not like the inconsistency between the two groups.

"The students aren't speaking with one voice; that's my dilemma," Calderon said. "I don't want to try to help one group and inadvertently hurt the other group."

Non-voting Student Regent Ben Graff said it is inappropriate for GPSC to take a stance on undergraduate tuition. While GPSC does not have governance over undergraduates, the ASUA president is the student body president and speaks for all students, Graff said.

During the regents' meeting today, Graff said he will recognize the ASUA proposal as the overarching student proposal because if students are fractionated it will weaken their stance.

Regents will also be considering President Peter Likins' proposal, which calls for a tuition and fee increase of 11.4 percent for resident undergraduates. Both GPSC and ASUA asked for an 8 percent increase for undergraduate residents, but GPSC also asked for an 8 percent increase for graduates while ASUA recommended a 14.12 percent increase for graduates.

Student Body President Alistair Chapman said the ASUA proposal is based on the tuition survey and is representative of what both undergraduates and graduates want. In addition, Chapman said the ASUA proposal is well researched and includes projected revenue and allocation of resources.

Chapman said his plan is beneficial to students because it has a $30 per student set-aside for course availability but, at the same time, does not harm the university.

Ryan Patterson, a veteran Arizona Students' Association director who helped draft the ASUA proposal, said the ASUA proposal would fund a 70 percent tuition remission for graduate assistants, which graduates said was a top priority.

But Amanda Brobbel, president of GPSC, said her group did not compromise with ASUA because they were not approached by ASUA until the day before the tuition hearing.

"In order to have a unified student voice, the groups would have to work together, and that's not happening right now," Brobbel said.

Regent Lorraine Frank said she is not surprised by the two different student plans since graduate students are older and may have families, making their situation "very different" from undergraduates'.

Student Regent Wes McCalley said that although it is important for every student to have the opportunity to voice their concerns, a unified proposal will be more effective.

"I am concerned that it does send mixed messages to the regents and has the potential for arguments," McCalley said.

The regents will also tackle a proposed mandatory information technology fee of $60 today and will vote on whether to raise rent for residence halls.

The regents meeting is open to the public and will begin at 1 p.m. in the Catalina Room in the Student Union Memorial Center.