Provost rejects 'owed' funding for APASC

By Amanda Hunt

Arizona Daily Wildcat

After one cancelled appointment and an early morning meeting, students from the Asian Pacific American Student Center finally had a chance to ask the provost why their center's budget is a third of that of the other centers on campus.

Kelmer Tillman, a family and consumer resources senior, said in order to dissolve the financial disparity the APASC would "require the development of a fair and equitable time line." The first step in that process would be to raise the dean of the center to full-time status, Tillman said.

The students scheduled a meeting with Provost Paul Sypherd last Thursday, but because of an emergency the provost rescheduled for Friday morning. About 15 students and supporters of the center attended the meeting.

The two-year-old center has a budget of $33,900 and one part-time dean. The budgets of the other centers, the African-American Student Resource Center, the Hispanic-American Student Resource Center, and the Native-American Student Resource Center, range from $105,000 to $111,000. Those centers each employ three full-time professionals.

The students prepared an agenda for the meeting outlining their objectives for resolving the issue, including a summary of the university's mission statement. Jason Kitahara, a sociology senior, read back part of a statement the provost had published in Lo Que Pasa concerning the importance of the mission statement. The mission statement prioritizes minority recruitment and retention along with its goals for research, teaching and service.

The focus of the center "would be indicative of what you said here," Kitahara said.

In response, Sypherd said the university does have dedication to recruiting and retaining minority students. "I'm going to cut to the chase. First, I don't micro-manage the university and second, I don't tell vice presidents what to do (with their budgets)," he said.

Sypherd also said the university has improved it's hiring record of minorities and has included Asian-Americans in the target group, even though they are not usually included nationwide.

Sypherd said the center needs to go through a "maturation process" for a higher budget. "I am not happy with the funding of any of the cultural centers."

"It's a problem of priorities," he said. Sypherd said repeatedly that it his top priority to fix problems that affect every student, like classroom space. He said because the university's request for "new dollars was again rejected," the only way the center could be financed would be by taking money away from someone else.

"It is not our agenda to take money away from the other centers," Kitahara said.

"We're not asking for more money, we're asking for what is owed to the APASC," Tillman said. She said Asian students need a resource center as much as other minorities, even though there is a common belief that Asian students do not have academic problems and have a high retention rate.

According to the student research office, after six years at the UA, 64 percent of Asian students had graduated or were still enrolled, compared to the university-wide average of 57 percent. The other three minority groups ranged from 35 percent to 54 percent.

"We are lumping (Asian students) into one group ... we all must come together; it's all our problem," Tillman said.

"We are asking you to give us a little compassion and invest in tomorrow," said Tam Bracamonte, a supporter of the center and a member of the Asian American Faculty/Staff Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Tillman said the APASC will notify outside media of the problem and will attend the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee meeting this Friday. During that meeting, through an all funds process, any new money will be allocated to various parts of the university.

"We must rectify these issues," Tillman said. She and others hope the problem will be resolved by making as many people aware of the disparity as possible. They also want support from the administration.

"I feel your passion and I'm anguished that I can't help you more," Sypherd said to the group.

Kitahara and Bracamonte both addressed the Arizona Board of Regents this month about the financial disparity.

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