By Melissa Prentice
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Students who spoke to members of the Physical Education Reorganization Committee yesterday expressed the worry that their opinions would remain unheard.
"It seems that all the information and facts we are giving are falling on deaf ears; the people who are making the decisions aren't using the information we are giving. It keeps coming back to money," said Richard Jones, a physical education sophomore.
The Faculty Senate Reorganization Committee was established to study and report to President Manuel T. Pacheco about the issue involving the elimination of the physical education program. In January, Pacheco seconded Provost Paul Sypherd's recommendation to eliminate the physical education, journalism and statistics departments.
After the committee reports to Pacheco, he will announce his recommendation to the
Arizona Board of Regents, which has the final say on the department cuts.
One student said he thinks the faculty committee is just a formality.
"The president and provost are doing everything they can to see that this program is eliminated despite the information that is presented," said Brook Wood, a general biology education junior with an athletic coaching minor. "It seems to me that this process is just a show. It doesn't seem that the president plans on listening to what the committee finds; this is all just so he can say he went through all the hoops and circles to eliminate the program."
Pat Fairchild, an exercise and sports sciences professor and committee member, told the group of about 30 students that although Pacheco is not forced to follow the committee's recommendation, the regents will hear the committee's view.
"Word will get back to the regents, who have the final decision," she said. "This committee is interested in presenting them with the full picture."
Another committee member agreed that the committee does play an important role in the process.
"There is no grounds to feel that this program is dead; what the committee reports will have weight," said John McElroy, an English professor.
John Bradley, a language, reading and culture professor and committee member, told the students that if they really want to have their voices heard they should employ many of the techniques he remembers from attending college in the 1960s. He suggested that the students write letters to the committee, the administrators, the regents and the state legislators. However, he said they will need to encourage more students to get involved.
Students, many of whom said their motivation for a career in physical education was sparked by the quality of their early physical education, tried to convince the committee of the importance of continuing the physical education teacher-preparation program in order to benefit future generations of students.
Others argued that a land-grant institution like the UA that is designed to meet the needs of the community, must meet the demand for physical education teachers at the state schools. Having well-trained teachers is essential to insure the health and safety of children in the classes, the students said.
"Physical educators keep kids in shape, help them become healthy and make being healthy fun Ä that is why we are needed," said Jeannie Yamada, a physical education senior.
Some committee members agreed that local schools would suffer from the elimination of the department.
Claire Parsons, the committee chair, said that Tucson Unified School District representatives that met with the committee indicated that they would need to spend $450,000 for a program to recruit and train physical education majors and athletic trainers from other schools if the department is closed. The closure would save about $569,000, she said.
"The cost that will be saved will just be passed on to taxpayers because increased funding will be needed to support school programs," she said.
But eliminating the for-credit sports classes offered by the department would not be beneficial either, many students said.
Amanda Penny, a economics and psychology sophomore, said her beginning gymnastics class is "the only thing I look forward to when I get up in the morning."
"The teacher helps me accomplish a goal and this spurs me on to do the same in all my other classes; it brightens my day," she said.
Wood said the sports classes offer "a break from the stresses of everyday school. It's a good way to get out of the stressful academic mode ... and then I am ready to go again for my chemistry class."
Using the Student Recreation Center is not a viable alternative for the 5,000 students who take the sports courses each semester because it "does not teach students the basic skills for various sports" and is often crowded, students said.
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