Asian Pacific students seek funding

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Students at the Asian Pacific Resource Center want to know why their budget is only a third of that of the other resource centers and they say they expect to get an answer from the provost Thursday.

"We want to know why we are not getting more money. How can the university promote diversity on campus if they do not treat the resource centers equally?" said Kelmar Tillman, one of the students who is meeting with Provost Paul Sypherd.

The two-year-old center has a total budget of $33,900. The budgets of the three other resource centers, the African American Cultural Resource Center, the Native American Cultural Resource Center, and the Hispano/Chicano Resource Center range from $105,000 to $110,000. Each of the centers employ three full-time employees, except the Asian Pacific center, which has only one part-time director.

The students have been told that the center, which serves the second largest minority population on campus, is not in need of more money because of the high retention and graduation rates among Asian students, Tillman said.

According to the student research office, six years after enrolling at the university 64 percent of Asian students had graduated or were still enrolled. This percentage is higher than the university-wide average of 57 percent and higher than the percentages of all three other minority groups, which ranged from 35 percent to 54 percent.

"But we don't think the resource centers are only about retention rates," Tillman said. "They are here to show diversity, to promote community events and to be a place or a home for students to go."

Cecilia Lou, the assistant dean of the center, said she thinks the center's budget shortfalls are a result of being established at a time of university-wide budget cutting.

"Establishing our center was something extra the university put in place at a time when there was not too many resources to do so," Lou said. Although she is not involved in the student meeting with Sypherd, she said increasing the center's budget is also "something she has been talking to (her) supervisor about."

Sypherd could not be reached for comment.

Tillman said the students do not want to take money away from the other resource centers, which she said are "also operating the best they can on tight budgets," but wants the Asian Pacific center to be given equal funding.

She said the students expect at least a timeline of when they can expect a larger budget before they will leave Sypherd's office, and "no more just telling us, 'we don't have the money, we are working on it.'"

Lou said the Asian American Resource Center at the University of Connecticut operates on a budget of about $160,000. The center at UConn is also two years old and serves 1,000 students, while the UA center serves about 1,700 Asian students on campus, she said.

"The director there has a lot of independence about what culture programs to spend the budget on, while we have to spend about one-third of our ($3,000) operational budget for the telephone bill," Lou said.

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