Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 30, 2005
The composition of the 31-member search committee charged with finding a successor to President Peter Likins provides a shining example of the ways in which students are continually shut out of important decisions concerning the university's future.
Of the more than 50,000 people who daily walked the UA campus in 2004, nearly 37,000 were undergraduate, graduate and professional students, according to university figures.
Of the 31 members of the committee, two are students, only one of whom is an undergraduate.
The disproportionate representation of students on a body that will directly impact the future of tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of undergraduates and graduates is an egregious error that borders on arrogance.
Of course, the numbers above don't account for the thousands of alumni and community supporters who deserve a spot at the decision table as well. Their needs and concerns are important and should be addressed, as should those of tenured faculty and the city of Tucson.
Ben Graf, former student body president and current voting student regent, will work to advance student interests, but he is far removed from undergraduates as he works to complete his law degree.
It is doubtful that student body President Cade Bernsen, the other student representative, can provide the undergraduate student perspective necessary for the committee because he has only attended the UA for one year.
There's no doubt Bernsen knows much about important campus issues, but he wasn't here during the tumultuous years that saw a $1,000 tuition increase and several departments threatened with cuts.
Had Regent Fred Boice, who oversaw the committee's formation, searched outside the typical field of campus leaders, he surely would have found at least one other student to represent the diverse campus that administrators so often tout. The university prides itself on the diversity of its student body, but the committee appears ill-equipped to represent the multitude of interests of such a varied group.
Committee members like Antonio Estrada, the director of the UA Mexican American Studies and Research Center, and Regent Ernesto Calderón, a UA law graduate, will keep diversity issues in mind, but they are no substitutes for a student representative.
Calling for another student to be put on the committee at this point would be fruitless, as the board will begin its work shortly. However, because students have been largely denied the opportunity to directly select the next president, they must attend upcoming community forums and demand to have their concerns addressed.
It's time the committee starts seeing students as partners in the process and not as an afterthought.
Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Caitlin Hall, Ryan Johnson, Damion LeeNatali, Aaron Mackey, Mike Morefield and Tim Runestad.