Now that we've mailed our life savings to the federal and state governments, and now that the Board of Regents has decided to raise the amount of money we need to pay to go to school, let's talk about money. Public money.

The University of Arizona is a public institution, funded mainly with state money our tuition dollars and the portion of our paychecks the state decides to keep.

So one would assume that we have a right to know how and where our hard-earned (or not so hard-earned) dollars are being spent. And even the law mandates that institutions disclose the way this money is proposed to be spent or is spent.

But I have learned one key thing after dealing with the university for nearly three years: never assume.

For some reason, administrators at this university seem strangely paranoid about disclosing their plans and actions to the public, namely, the press.

Let's take the recent university-wide strategic budget and planning committee report (pause for a breath), which outlines programs and departments that could be cut or reduced to save money. There are two key words in that phrase: budget and planning.

The Wildcat called the provost's office and was told by an assistant to the provost that this report does not fall under public records law because it is a draft.

Luckily, there are lawyers. Seriously.

A local media attorney called to remind these administrators that this "draft" indeed is public record. The university conceded, but said we could have the report when they were ready to give it to us. We were told that Jacqueline Schneider, special counsel to the UA president, had to review it, but she was busy at the regents meeting. The report was released Friday morning, hours before the regents meeting was over.

Despite the delay, it is fortunate someone agreed to release the report before students leave for the summer without any chance to defend their areas of studies. The university has a history of making crucial program-cut decisions during the summer, again denying students the access they deserve.

The Wildcat has submitted dozens of public-record requests to the university, some of which are never replied to and others which are flat out refused. We finally obtain answers to some of our requests, only to get documents that are sparse, have blacked-out portions or seem to have been filled out minutes before and fail to contain the specific information for which we asked.

It seems a slow and nearly impossible process for the Wildcat to get documents or even answers to questions at the UA, and it is probably even harder for the general student. But it is our responsibility to know where our tuition and tax dollars are going.

And if there are activities and planning going on at this school that the administration seems to feel the need to keep secret, they should not be going on at all. Or those administrators should try to seek employment at a private university.

Those who reap the benefits of salary paid out of public funds should prepare to be a public servant and to adhere to the standards and demands of those who provide (most of) their paycheck the students and taxpayers and those of us fortunate enough to be both.

Wildcat Editor in Chief Alexa Haussler is a journalism junior who just paid her taxes and wants someone anyone to blame. Her column appears on alternate Tuesdays. Read Next Article