Sunday, September 19, 2010

Finally, some justice

In case you haven't been reading your e-mails from the provost (and really, who does but us?), after 10 years of fighting, the university has finally invested some funds into reducing TA workload in the College of Humanities!

Where should you send your thank you letter?
Dean Comrie of the Graduate College met with department heads and the administration of the university, designed a plan with real numbers and real benefits made explicit and pitched the plan himself. Thanks to him, hundreds of humanities TAs will get workload reductions this year, meaning they will be teaching 3 rather than 4 courses a year. This is much closer to the national average and is expected to greatly improve time-to-degree.

Check it out in the Star.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where's my money?

Want to know what the UA Rec center is spending your $60 health and wellness fee?
The AZ Star reports that the new entrance to the rec center will feature fingerprint scanners so that there will be no waiting in line to get into the rec. Wow. All that for the bargain price of $50,000? Lucky us.

p.s. The article mentions that the scanners don't work on about 20% of the population, so there will still need to be a staff member to scan their CAT cards.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Prop 100

Today is the vote on the one-cent sales tax increase that would keep UA from being cut an additional $41 million and (according to Pres. Shelton) save about 500 jobs at the university.

If you don't vote today, don't complain later. If you don't vote in general, it is your fault when tuition and fees go up.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The road to hell is paved by U of A: This is your "asfault": Tarred and feathered: "Paved paradise and put up a parking lot"

We couldn't help including all of the creative titles we could think of for this one.

The Star's Becky Pallack has blogged on this story and has some great before and after pictures of the neighborhood linked to the article.

When UA needs more parking, where do they turn? The historical neighborhood of Rincon Heights. After UA developed a habit of buying perfectly good houses in order to demolish them in the 90s, Rincon Heights worked with the university for 2 years to work out a compromise in which no more buy-and-pave deals should have taken place. UA seems to have broken with that commitment, however, and now plans to knock down even more houses, with no regard for the impact on the community and local environment.

Note the irony: UA touts its new "environmental" rec center, right next door to a big slab of asphalt, one that it plans to expand. Rincon Heights' neighborhood association has dedicated time and money to planting native trees and flowers and to harvest rain water. They even won a prize for it. Now UA wants to pave over their efforts, to make room for a few more cars (nice stance on the environment, UA.)

So far the UA has been unresponsive and highly reluctant to negotiate with the neighborhood association. (Interesting stance on collaboration and mutual respect, coming from an institution that supposedly fosters these values.)

The Rincon Heights residents ask you to pressure the UA administration to honor their agreement with the neighborhood:

Join the cause

"Please email this short message to President Shelton at
Don't asphalt Rincon Heights. Honor your agreements with the neighborhood.

If you are a student, please mention it. Many students live in Rincon Heights.

Please ask all your Facebook friends to do the same. We really need to spread the word.

1. The UA needs to honor its agreement that any activity in our neighborhood will "stabilize and improve the residential character of the neighborhood."
2. The UA should not change our long standing agreement without our consent.
3. The land left vacant by demolition must be restored in an attractive manner: no visual pollution like weed strewn vacant lots or asphalt parking lots"

Your neighborhood could be next.

Shelton takes a firmly ambiguous stand on SB1070

In a memo sent to the campus community on April 29th, it began to look like UA's President Shelton was about to join the hoards of others opposing SB 1070- the new immigration law that would require the police to verify the immigration status of, well, anyone.

It looks like Shelton is about to denounce 1070, something over a thousand campus community members did at yesterday's protest: "On any given day there are literally hundreds of people here from around the globe. They come to our campus to learn, to collaborate in research projects, and to share the products of their own scholarship."

Sadly, the memo dissolves into political pandering.

Despite the fact that: "We have already begun to feel an impact from SB1070. The families of a number of out-of-state students (to date all of them honors students) have told us that they are changing their plans and will be sending their children to universities in other states," Shelton insists that UAPD will be extensively trained in how to enforce SB 1070 (as if they weren't busy enough with all the pot-smoking and loud partying that goes on around here.)

Although Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, Tucson City Council, and countless others have publicly opposed the law, Shelton has not taken a stand. Do you think he should? Send him an e-mail:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Could be worse.....Oh, wait. It is.

Thanks to pressure from student groups such as ASUA and GPSC, fees increases were limited to approximately $310 for next year. GPSC is still working on getting some of that remitted for GATs and GRAs, but no firm deal has been released in writing yet.

The Regents have mandated that all three universities reduce their payroll expenses by 2.75% before the end of the fiscal year. ASU has proposed program consolidations and cuts, while UA has been pretty quiet on the matter. According to Becky Pallack of the AZ Star, the total amount is about $5 million. No one is sure what this will mean to UA GATs and GRAs. We've already taken an effective pay cut through increased fees!

President Shelton will be at GPSC tonight at 6pm in Law 168 if you want to ask him to explain his plan (whatever it may be). E-mail the assembly chair to reserve your spot to speak:

GPSC elections are going on right now. If you don't vote, don't complain later. For all the bitching we do, we have an embarassingly low voter turn out. If you care about your salary, health care, remission, etc. then you should be able to take 30 seconds to click a few buttons and vote: Click on your college.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Last-Minute Back-Tracking

Pres. Shelton changed his tuition and fees proposal yesterday, on the eve of the tuition decision by ABOR (going on right now!). The long and short of it is that his tuition recommendations came down a little and he advocated for phasing in the fee increases over the next two years rather than all at once. This still leaves the almost $700 proposed fee increase to be implemented by 2012.

From our perspective, this means:
1) Shelton is responding to pressure from ASUA, GPSC and other student organizations.
2) Shelton is trying to make a quick compromise that benefits his plan right before the regents vote so that student leaders have little time to respond.
3) If he is willing to bring down the fee amounts, at least for one year, this supports the GPSC's assertion that the fee amounts proposed initially are inappropriate and poorly researched.

We'll know the results in a couple of hours, since ABOR is voting on these increases at 9:30am today.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fee Vigil

A last-minute vigil has been called to protest fees in front of the Admin. Building from 7-9 tonight. The organizers are asking participants to bring candles and to wear white tops to symbolize peace.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


ASUA elections are going on right now: Graduate and undergraduate students have the right to vote in the elections, and although most of the spots are uncontested, we do have one suggestion: Katherine Weingartner for VP. She has a lot of experience and is generally outspoken on the council, especially when ASUA is trying to waste money. Connor Mendenhall of the Mad Fee Party on Facebook has endorsed Jarrett Benkendorfer and Trevor Hill for senate, citing their support for referendums on fees rather than surveys.

GPSC elections are coming up and you have until the end of the week to submit candidacy forms for VP and representatives by college. If you don't run for office, at least make sure to vote.

Prop 100 is gaining facebook support. It would implement a one-cent sales tax, which would bring in support for education and other public program funding. Whatever you do, don't forget that joining a facebook group is not the same as actually showing up to the polls to vote.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


As you have no-doubt heard, David Talenfeld has resigned from the GPSC presidency, citing his inability to advocate on behalf of his constituents because of his distinct view points. Expressing that he would rather leave than remain a "stubborn impediment" to change, he stepped down. And yet, Talenfeld was more than an impediment to GPSC; he was a competitor.

You may remember his letter to the Wildcat, which initially led many gradstudent organizations to question his willingness to represent his constituents. In that letter, he referenced everyone from JFK to Martin Luther King, Jr. in an effort to persuade readers to blindly accept the proposed tuition and fee hikes (exactly contrary to the GPSC statement he had been advocating for elsewhere).

Top that with his embarrassing and unexplained absence from the Arizona Board of Regents meeting and you have total disaster for the GPSC's image. For all of these reasons, it is no small miracle that David Lopez-Negrete was able and willing to step in and take over the lead. Now, more than ever, graduate and professional students need a leader that will not put administrator's opinions over the needs of the constituents.

The Rec Center

Assistant VP Frank Farias came to present the Rec's case to GPSC. Prefacing his statement with the perception that he wouldn't succeed in changing GPSC's mind on fees at all, he still tried to do just that. Unfortunately, the questions and answers went around in circles. Farias himself said that the Rec is in a financial reality and that someone has to pay for it. Having taken over only a few months ago, he admited that the 'books' are a disaster and that he's doing a full audit to find out where the waste has been all these years. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to justify the amount requested by the rec, even admitting that he wasn't sure whether it was too much or too little. When pressed to explain, he stated that they know they need money, but have no idea how much.

Should we just write a check to the rec center and instead of a number, write "more" for the amount? How can students be asked to pay for something when they don't even know how much money they need?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

AZ Tuition Hikes Make National News!

The ABOR meeting last night was standing room only, even in the extra over-flow room, where attendees could watch the proceedings on a video screen. Students voiced their outrage at the huge tuition and fee hikes. Unfortunately, only 8 of the 48 audience members signed up to speak actually were able to make it to the microphone. Forty-five minutes of the two-hour meeting were taken up with administrators and student representatives from the various campuses giving their statements, leaving little time for the public to comment.

Luckily, you can still contact the regents:
Arizona Board of Regents
2020 North Central Ave., Ste. 230
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Phone: (602) 229-2500

One of the highlights was definitely Connor Mendenhall's statement (he is the administrator for the Mad Fee Party on Facebook:"Four years ago, when I entered the University of Arizona as a freshman, I paid $85 in mandatory fees. Should you approve President Shelton’s latest fee proposals, students like me will pay $873–a tenfold increase in just four years."

But our absolute favorite part of Connor's statement was: "No student in the state of Arizona should be denied access to public education because he cannot afford to pay for a gym membership, organic fruit in the student union, or plasma-screen televisions in the library."

Did we make it on the news? Oh, yeah.

The AZ Star's Becky Pallack's article emphasizes the outrage: "Students said they were "disappointed," "shocked" and "irate" at tuition and fee increases proposed for the three state universities."

The Wildcat's Article isn't half bad either. Check out the sign: "Fee Hikes are Pay Cuts for GATs and GRAs."

And now it has made the national news!!! Check out the New York Times article from the Associated Press: "Chris Campos, a philosophy sophomore at UA, said the proposed 31 percent increase is ''nothing short of criminal.'' "

Fox 11 news calls the tuition hikes: "whopping," "astronomical" and the "highest in history."

Apparently a lot more of it made it onto the 10 o'clock news, but we haven't been able to find the video yet. If you get a find it, please e-mail us the link!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tuition Hearing

UPDATE: Join the Mad Fee Party on Facebook! This group already has hundreds of members and was featured on KVOA 4.

SHOW UP AND BE HEARD AT ABOR ON MONDAY. Fight for the AZ constitution's guarantee of higher education that is "as nearly free as possible." Fight for your degree. Tell the administration you won't let them jack up the price without your say!

Monday, March 1st from 5-7 pm in the Harvill Building, Room 211
The Regents will be discussing tuition and fees. Show up early and get in line for the call to the audience! Tell them you can't afford to pay unreasonable fee and tuition hikes! Bring signs! (Some suggestions? No Taxation without Education. I can't afford this fee hike. Increased fees = GAT pay cut. Close the Rec before you cripple the UA. )

Check out AZ Star reporter Becky Pallack's breakdown of the numbers in her recent blog post. UA wants to raise tuition, but has a higher number of needy students than its peer institutions.

Check out this opinions article from the Wildcat on how UA compares to its "peer institutions." And take a look at how the Rec has become a money pit.

*Special thanks to the Mad Fee Party for the awesome graph on student fees!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


UPDATE: Check out The Desert Lamp's Rec/Health fee breakdown and while you're at it, take their Campus Policy Survey.

Update: A Facebook group has been established to protest the Health/Rec Fee.

While GPSC and ASUA try to come to a consensus on fee recommendations, Shelton goes ahead and releases his plan:

If you can read between the "Yeah UA" lines, you'll basically see that in addition to increasing graduate and undergraduate tuition (again), Shelton would also have each of us paying $665 in additional fees next year (for some, an over 400% increase): "In addition to a new Campus Sustainability Fee of $24 and a Health and Recreation Fee of $306, Shelton has proposed an increase of $335 to the Library Information Fee."

The AZ Star reports that tuition and fees may rise about $2,000! Are we the only ones that are more than a little PISSED OFF? Can you afford to shell out about $500 each semester at the beginning of the semester before the university has even started paying you for teaching or research?

E-mail your GPSC Rep and tell them to fight harder for you. Find their e-mail addresses here:

While you're at it, e-mail ABOR and tell them you can't afford this kind of tricky increase in fees:
Here are their e-mail addresses, so you can just cut and paste:,,,,,,,,,

ABOR ultimately sets tuition and fees, so they are the ones you want to contact!

According to the AZ Star: "Hearings are scheduled for 5 p.m. March 1 at the UA Harvill Building. The Arizona Board of Regents will vote on the proposal on March 11 at the UA."

No time to write an e-mail? Here's one you can cut and paste.

Dear Arizona Board of Regents,
I am a graduate student at the university of Arizona and I am deeply concerned about the proposed increases in fees for the 2010-2011 school year. If passed in their entirety (a $665 increase), they would mean that graduate students would have to come up with approximately $500 each semester before the university has even begun to pay them their salaries for teaching and research. This would add to the already burdensome workload that graduate students carry. In order to remain competitive in research and educational standards, it is essential that these fees be eliminated or included in graduate assistant remissions. We risk losing our excellent graduate student teachers and researchers to universities that offer them a full remission if we do not take this step immediately. Key faculty members rely on graduate assistants, as do the undergraduates whose classes we teach. Please do not risk the future of our state's universities by failing to offer support for these important members of the system.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter,

Monday, February 8, 2010


Fee Update! ASUA has voted against supporting the exorbitant Health/Rec fee (currently at a $306 increase), despite the evidence presented from the very poorly designed survey Student Services put out.

Here are the fee proposals as they stand right now.

Next year you could be looking at approximately (these are mostly still being proposed and discussed in both ASUA and GPSC, but they'll be going to Pres. Shelton soon):
Library: $150
AZ Rise ("Green" Fee): $50
PIRG (Advocacy group): $2
Tech: $300
Health/Rec: $306

Right now you probably pay about $144ish...oops, that's per semester. So $288 per year. (Of course, that depends on the program).

plus the other fees you usually have to pay...
Tuition surcharge: $414
Student Services: $40
Rec Bond: $25
ASA: $2
AFAT: $15
KAMP: $1

That's $498.

Of course, these are all approximations...we don't know what the final result will be until the fees are actually set and posted to your bursar's account.

Are you ticked off? Contact your GPSC rep. They can't represent you if you don't tell them what you think. GPSC will have a meeting dedicated entirely to fees on Feb 17th in Law 168 at 6pm. Open your mouth before you open your wallet.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Packing Heat

Two proposals are making their way through the Arizona State Legislature:

One would allow faculty members to carry concealed weapons on campus, overriding Arizona Board of Regents' weapons-free-zone policy at all three Universities. The other would eliminate the (already very minimal) requirements for carrying a concealed weapon! The AZ Star article emphasizes how alarmed Arizona police officers are at the possibility of legal concealed carry with no background check and no training. I'm sure we can all see where this is leading: soon it could be legal for any adult with no special training or regulation to carry a concealed weapon on campus.

If you have a problem with this, make sure to call the bills' sponsors: Senators Pearce R, Gorman, Gray C; Representatives Antenori, Barnes, Gowan, Montenegro: Senators Allen S, Harper, Verschoor; Representatives Burges, Crump, Kavanagh, Lesko, Murphy, Seel, Stevens. (Contact info for your legislators is always available in the left-hand column).

And don't forget to contact the governor's office.

Arizona Board of Regents, the UA Faculty Senate, the three university presidents, the three university chiefs of police, and the GPSC have issued statements against concealed carry on campus. ASUA has not. They are holding a special forum on Tuesday at 7pm in the Santa Rita room in the Student Union. If you have an opinion, go and have your voice heard, but keep in mind that it's ultimately the state government that makes the decision. Call them. Tell them you're registered to vote and you have an opinion.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

Where is everyone?

Last semester had us thinking the faculty had really stepped into the 21st century with the UA Defender Blog, which was developed by some anonymous members to protest the firing of UA's VP for Instructional Development Garcia (who was opposed to the so-called mega-classes). Now we see that the last post was October 2, 2009.

If you try to visit the awesome site developed by ASU student Haroon Saleem, Speak Up Now, you'll get re-directed; it doesn't exist anymore. The facebook and twitter pages still exist, but haven't been actively used since last summer.

The Chalk is Speech website, developed by outraged faculty during the Evan Lisull and Jacob Miller chalking affair, also seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Even the occasionally overly-enthusiastic Arizona for Education group hasn't posted to their blog since October of 2009.

The only blog that seems to be as strong as ever is the Desert Lamp. We don't always agree with them, but we still consider them one of the best resources for independent news and informed opinions on this campus.

This begs the question: Is blogging-as-resistance still viable? If we blog when we're angry, but then get frustrated and give up, is that resistance, or shouting into the wind? Last year these blogs were so much of a threat that Pres. Shelton actually mentioned them in his letter to the AZ Star (see our previous post "Well, Shame on Us"). Now they seem all but dead in the water.

Where do we go from here?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Arizona's Economic Crisis

Arizona Public Media invites two economists to discuss Arizona's budget shortfall. Big surprise: in the days of plenty, the legislature initiated permanent tax cuts that a 2/3 majority requirement makes almost impossible to overturn. We have more outgo than income.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Penny Wise and Pound Stoopid

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has suggested cutting adult education (among a ton of other things) in Arizona. This means adult literacy programs and funding for GEDs. In case you don't know, a GED is the degree you are able to get if you were unable to complete a traditional high school diploma for whatever reason (pregnancy, abuse, financial hardship, family problems, etc.)

According to the Arizona Association for Lifelong Learning, "18% of all high school diplomas issued in Arizona in 2008 were GED diplomas. There are currently 795,970 adults in Arizona without a high school credential, which makes it nearly impossible to get a job or go to further training."

They also stress that "individuals with a high school diploma earn on mean $8,000 more per year than those without a diploma. This translates into millions of dollars in revenue which goes immediately to Arizona ." The website also argues that GEDs are relatively cheap ($183 per student). When you think about it, a $183 investment for an $8,000/year return is pretty awesome.

One NPR interviewee said the cuts were "penny wise and pound foolish." There is a facebook group to support the continued funding of basic education in our state.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We want your money, and you want to give it to us!

Many of you probably got the recent student rec/health survey. Did anyone else find it a little biased? There was no room for comments and the questions seemed pretty loaded to us.

Considering that the library, Health and Rec, Information Technology (IT), something called PIRG, and a "Green Team" are all asking for new student fees next year (which could add up to over $150/semester by our calculations), it might be worth your time to take a look.

Here is a guest submission from a Sallygradstudent reader on the survey. Let's call him Joegradstudent:


Like many other students, I received an e-mail from Melissa Vito, Vice President for Student Affairs, asking me to take a survey about the proposed Health and Recreation Fee that we heard about last semester. I’ve attached a Microsoft Word document containing the e-mail and the survey.

The survey is disturbingly biased and seems to be deliberately designed to convince students to say they support the fee. If you’ve never been involved in designing a survey or writing appropriately neutral survey questions, you can look at any of the hundreds of books and websites that discuss how to insure the validity and accuracy of survey results. Here’s an example from a website that I chose randomly from Google search results, contrasting a bad leading question with a good neutral version:

Bad Question: Leading

Good Question: Neutral

Do you think that the new cafeteria lunch menu offers a better variety of healthy foods than the old one?
( ) Yes
( ) No
( ) No Opinion

How do you feel about the new cafeteria lunch menu compared to the old one?
( ) The new menu offers a better variety of healthy foods
( ) The old menu offers a better variety of healthy foods
( ) The selections are similar
( ) No opinion

Applying a similar analysis to the first question from Melissa Vito’s survey:

The survey asks, “…indicate how supportive you are of … continued access to quality, low cost health care…” and your choices are:

( )Very supportive

( )Moderately supportive

( )Slightly supportive

( )Not supportive

( )No opinion

A more neutral version might look something like this:

1.“Do you support a fee to continue the current health care system” with choices:

( )Yes

( )No

( )No Opinion

2.“What is the quality of the current health care system?” with choices:

( )High

( )Medium

( )Low

( )No Opinion

3.“What is the cost of the current health care system?” with choices:

( )High

( )Medium

( )Low

( )No Opinion

Many of the questions in Melissa Vito's survey are just as biased and leading. Additionally, as you work your way through the survey, if you indicate that you don’t support the fee, you’re then taken to a section of the survey that is nothing less than a sales pitch that tries to change your mind.

In the past, I’ve always been surprised when the University has claimed that surveys indicate that students want to increase fees. If all of the “surveys” are like this one, I think I understand now.

This survey is significantly flawed and we should object to any attempt by the University to claim that the results of this survey are valid. We can probably also find a well-credentialed faculty member or two who would be willing to write an analysis of the survey. Finally, it would also be interesting to look at some of the other surveys the University has used in the past to support increasing fees and tuition.

Survey Student Fees

Don't forget to write to your GPSC or ASUA representative and tell them what you are and are not willing to pay for!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Guns on campus?

Here's ABOR (Arizona Board of Regents)'s response to the propsed laws that would make it legal to carry a firearm on campus. FYI: as of very recently it is legal to have a locked concealed weapon in your car or motorcycle and park it on campus (!)

LTR Guns on Campus Withenclosures[1]

Have you considered writing a letter to Pres. Burns and Speaker Adams as well? You can find their contact info to the left. If you talk about guns on campus over coffee or around the water cooler, you should take a few minutes to have your opinion registered with the elected representatives of our state, too.