Thursday, November 20, 2008

Failing to Invest in our Future

The GAT roundtable didn't result in many concrete decisions yesterday afternoon, but it did raise several highly important issues and bring them to the attention of the president of the university. Whether he will choose to act on them remains to be seen.

Some themes were constant:
1) The need for more training of graduate student teachers. This would not only make their jobs easier, but also reduces hassles, makes teaching across departments more consistent and cuts down on problems later (such as grade appeals, conflicts, etc). There is no reason not to invest in better teacher training, and graduate credit should be given to GATs who complete these courses.
2) Interdisciplinary students (like Genetics, Mexican American Studies, Latin American Studies, etc) have a hard time getting jobs and have to basically go door-to-door every semester to solicit employment. It was suggested that some kind of database for GATs could be set up so that departments seeking GATs could view all of the eligible candidates at once and make it more likely for students to get employed if they want to be.
3) International students are in a particularly hard place with the cut-backs because their immigration status depends on their being consistently employed. It was suggested that some kind of cushion be built into programs so that there could be a one semester grace period for GATs or RAs who can't find employment. This would keep them from being essentially thrown out of the country with no notice and no time to make arrangements.
4) Large class sizes mean more work for TAs and less educational value for students. With more students, assignments have to be cut back, feedback needs to be shorter and not as thorough, and students do not learn as well. GATs stressed that this is not simply a matter of workload or of teaching a particular subject. GATs teach critical thinking skills that are necessary to survive in this competitive economic climate. Compromising education at this juncture will lead to an inevitable "dumbing down" of Arizona.
5) There seems to be a consistent disparity between workload and compensation that needs to be worked on.

Our favorite quotes from Shelton himself:
There has been a "graduate erosion of graduate compensation" as a result of underfunding graduate students.
"None of this is an excuse for not treating people as well as we can."
"A compromise for a short time in the quality of education may be necessary."
We "want to avoid sharp edges in the transition process."
"I believe in lower tuition."
"They [undergraduates] are paying more and getting less."

He also suggested a central clearinghouse of TAs who are qualified to teach in more than one department. The administration is also working on a way to help tuition dollars follow student credit hours. They want to make Tier I and II credits more flexible so that they can be taught in more places and/or combined.

Perhaps most shocking was an account of one student whose program stopped hiring GATs in 2007, but still requires graduate students to teach as part of their program requirements. This means that this particular student has been obligated to teach for free this semester with no compensation in terms of salary, health or tuition. Shelton insisted that this must be an isolated case and that he will investigate. He admitted that if this case is true, that it is similar to "slave labor," and we at Sallygradstudent agree.

Shelton spoke for a while about the consistent failure of the state to invest in public education at all levels. It seems that individuals are unwilling to fund anything that they do not see as directly benefiting themselves.

If Arizona wants to compete in this economy, we need to educate our population. Businesses do not locate themselves in an area of unqualified workers. Educating the public is not about creating some elite class of intellectuals. It is about attracting skilled jobs that will ultimately benefit the state. The less we invest in public education, the more we mortgage our future.

Write to your state representative or to the governor and tell them what you think.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GAT Roundtable

Pres. Shelton will be attending a GAT roundtable this afternoon from 4:45-5:45 in ADMIN 712, Regent's room. GATs will be given a chance to explain their concerns as they relate to teaching, such as class size, workload, compensation, benefits, etc. There is room for 5 people who are not participating to observe, but they will not be allowed to speak during the roundtable.

If you are interested in attending, get there early.

For more info, e-mail your GPSC:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Numbers

Salary of Arizona Governor Napolitano: $95,000.00

Salary of the President of the United States: $400,000.00

Salary of Pres. Shelton of the U of A: $570,000.00 (According to the Daily Wildcat)

From the Arizona Daily Star:

"Shelton and Boice spoke critically of the idea of having students control funding, saying that's what administrators are paid to do.
"If I'm not doing a proper job of that, then I should be removed from my job," Shelton said."

In order to prove that they are not, in fact, cutting from the bottom in order to maintain their own comfort at the top, we at Sallygradstudent propose that all administrators making more than $200,000 a year (more than 9 times what a GAT makes) take a pay cut of 10%. Times are tough: for everyone.

Word of the Day: Tuition

From the Tucson Citizen on last night's tuition hearing:

"At the hearing, Stephen Bieda III, president of the UA Graduate and Professional Student Council, said regents should consider graduate students' value to the university in setting tuition hikes for graduate students. Bieda said graduate students "contributed to many of the grants and projects" that attracted "more than $530 million in research dollars" in fiscal 2005."

Also check out the two articles from the University Daily Wildcat, in which student leaders call for predictable and affordable increases in tuition in line with cost-of-living (3% per year).

From the Arizona Daily Star:
Student leaders propose allowing student priorities to determine the way certain money is spent (9%):

"Shelton and Boice spoke critically of the idea of having students control funding, saying that's what administrators are paid to do.
"If I'm not doing a proper job of that, then I should be removed from my job," Shelton said.
The student proposal would require all three universities to show exactly where tuition dollars are spent, Rigazo said.
He said having each university put out a budget, with the state tax dollars and tuition revenues jumbled together, provides little assistance for students to determine if their funds are being properly used. "

One more: The Daily Wildcat printed an opinion article on the State attempting to take the 'surplus' tuition to pay its debt.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stephen Bieda III, You're Our Hero

At the Tuition Hearing this evening (which was packed, standing room only) Stephen Bieda III, GPSC President, stood up for graduate student issues.

He proposes that graduate tuition waivers given to Research Associates and Assistants and Graduate Assistants and Associates in Teaching also cover fees. At present, fees are still passed on to graduate students.

He also stressed that graduate tuition should keep in line with undergraduate tuition and should not be increased disproportionately.

With 8,100 graduate students enrolled, 1,200 of whom are Research Assistants and Associates, research at this institution relies on the hard work of graduate student workers.

Bieda also highlighted that 48% of the university's instructional staff is comprised of graduate students. They are, indeed, a force to be reckoned with.

The final decision on tuition is to be made on Dec. 4th. If you weren't able to speak your mind at the meeting today, you can e-mail your concerns.

(The link below gives the addresses for the regents)

Tucson Citizen Calls Out Rep. Pearce

In a sharply written opinions article, the Tucson Citizen calls it like it is on Rep. Russell Pearce's attempt to overrule the entire state legislature and the governor.
By refusing to review millions of dollars of construction projects on the U of A campus, Pearce is essentially holding the projects hostage.
While we here at Sallygradstudent do not necessarily agree with 100% of the projects and the means through which they are being funded, we also cannot stand for one man attempting to exercise a dictatorial control over this democratic process.

Oh, and in case you don't remember, Russell Pearce was the state rep who pushed through the bill to require all public schools in AZ (including U of A) to have flags and the Constitution posted in classrooms. He didn't seem to have a problem pushing for the tens of thousands of dollars that cost!

ASUA Opposes 13% Tuition Increase

Shelton ignores the NAU's 4-year guarantee on tuition, which assures that students can rely on predictable tuition costs for their 4 years at the university.

The ASUA requests greater accountability on tuition increases, especially considering the 47% jump since 2005.

Another great article by Renee Schafer Horton:

Don't forget that you can speak your mind about tuition today from 5-7pm in Harvill 211 on the U of A campus.

Reminder about Tuition hearing today!

By University Communications November 15, 2008

The Arizona Board of Regents will hold its annual public hearings on proposed tuition rates on Nov. 17 at 5 p.m.

At the public interactive hearing, the regents will hear testimony and comments from the public, students and other interested parties regarding tuition and fees for students at The University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Comments at the tuition hearing will be heard on a first-come, first-served basis, rotating through participant sites around the state.

The UA locations for the hearing are as follows:

Tucson Campus: Harvill Building, Room 211

Sierra Vista: Administration Building, Room PMR-203
Douglas: UA South Douglas Campus, Room 127
UA Science and Technology Park: Building 9040, Room 2242

The Arizona Board of Regents is expected to vote on tuition rates and fees for 2009-2010 at its December meeting at Arizona State University.

Earlier this month, UA President Robert N. Shelton released his recommendations, which reflect the UA's determination to preserve the quality of the UA's educational experience at a time of diminishing state funding.

Shelton recommended the following tuition and fee adjustments:
Shelton is recommending that base undergraduate tuition be increased for Arizona residents by $659, to $5,933 for undergraduates, and to $6,723 for graduate students. For all non-resident students, tuition would rise by $2,575, to $20,983 for non-resident undergraduates and to $21,276 for non-resident graduate students.
Base tuition for UA South's in-state students would rise by $450 for undergraduates, to $5,053. UA South's in-state graduate students and all non-resident students would pay the same base tuition as their main campus peers.
Under Shelton's plan, tuition for UA medical students increase by $636 to $1,660, depending on the year they will graduate.
Existing student fees, which range from $201 to $257, would rise to cover increases in financial aid commitments and critical student services, by $45 to $67, depending on student classifications.

Shelton's recommendations include professional graduate program fees, special class fees and increased enrollment deposits.

"The University is highly sensitive to the financial constraints that students and their families experience during the present time," Shelton told regents in his written recommendations. "We look around us and see financial uncertainty locally and globally. We feel the impact institutionally, and our families and friends are impacted individually." Counterbalancing that economic uncertainty, Shelton said, is the certainty that students have expressed that they do not want the quality of their UA experience to diminish.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where is the breaking point?

Class sizes are getting bigger. Graduate funding is on the decline. The university's administration asks for your input and then disregards it. The state is laboring under a huge budget deficit and is using it as a convenient excuse to continue to underfund public education. Now it becomes clear that whole colleges can be merged at the wave of a hand and that the state believes it has the right to raid tuition dollars in order to cover its own debts.

Where is the breaking point? At what point do we take this to the streets?

Send us your feedback at We will not reveal your identity.

Absolutely Outrageous

Shame on you, Rep. Russell Pearce. The State of Arizona is now planning to dip into "extra" tuition revenues to help ease the state's budget problems. Wait, we have EXTRA money?

"And hours before Shelton spoke, members of a legislative committee began considering how they might use nearly $57 million in extra tuition money collected by all three universities, with some members saying that the money could be used to pay down the deficit."

How can we continuously raise tuition and then send the money to the state? It is supposed to be the other way around: the state is supposed to be supporting the university.

This is another move that will inevitably dumb down our state's population. The universities are not cash cows for the state. They should not be raided like piggy banks. Figure out how to solve your own financial problems.

Shame on you.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

COH + SBS = ????????

College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences were informed by the President and Provost that the two colleges will be merged. The Heads of the two colleges have been called to a meeting with the President and Provost on Monday.

As soon as we have updates about this, we will post more information.

At this point we can say the following:
It is critical that we question this apparently administratively imposed decision. It is also telling that this was not publicly announced by the president's office ahead of time. (We found out through our usual sources.) It is imperative that we demand answers about how much money this will actually save. Maybe you eliminate one dean's salary, but what about the other employees of the two colleges? With the same number of students to deal with and the same number of TAs to employ, how can we make sure things still run smoothly?

Will this forced merger help or harm our university?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Notice of Public Tuition Hearing

It is the Arizona Board of Regents that ultimately approves or rejects Pres. Shelton's request for a 13% tuition increase for next year. They are the group charged with upholding the state's mission and the University of Arizona as a land-grant institution.

Hold them responsible for increasing the price of public education to the extent that it is now out of reach for so many struggling students.

Arizona Board of Regents
Monday, November 17, 2008
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

University of Arizona:
Tucson - Harvill Building, Room 211

Tuition will have been raised 53% since 2005 if the newest hike passes. Ask what services are being provided to aid students in paying these increased costs. Ask where you can lobby for better state funding of our public university. Don't let politics dumb down our state. Arizona deserves well-educated residents.

State of the University

Tomorrow Pres. Shelton will be giving his State of the University address. He will be discussing the restructuring and the Arizona Assure program.

Thursday, November 13th, beginning at 12:25 p.m. in the Student Union Grand Ballroom.

If you are able to attend, we suggest you wear red for visual impact, much like at the GPSC meeting last week.

To watch Shelton's speech live, go to Arizona Public Media at

The UA Channel - Cox Channel 116 and Comcast Channel 76 - will re broadcast the speech at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 6 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday.

Monday, November 10, 2008

GPSC Roundtable with Pres. Shelton

This is a great chance for Graduate Assistants in Teaching to get involved.
If your department or program is not participating, ask your representatives why not.
We here at Sallygradstudent highly suggest that you prioritize and bring a list of the things you feel are most important to graduate students and what you are and are not willing to sacrifice (ie. class sizes, benefits, work hours, classroom technology, travel and professional development support, quality faculty, reasonable pay, adequate facilities, access to library materials, etc.)

President Robert N. Shelton and Graduate Teaching Assistants
Chair: Stephen W. Bieda III, Graduate & Professional Student Body President
Date: Wednesday, November 19
Time: 4:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.
Location: ADMIN 712, Regent's Room
Dress: Business Casual

There will be 15 participants for the roundtable discussion, with the focus being specifically on GTA workloads/class sizes & the UATransformation. There is room for up to 5 more people to attend, but only the participants will be allowed to speak. Please note that all participants MUST arrive at 4:45 pm SHARP. The building doors automatically look at 5 pm, and no one will be available to let you in. The format of the discussion will include opening remarks from each of the participants (not to exceed 1 minute), closing remarks (not to exceed 1 minute) and free flowing discussion (30 minutes). Please feel free to e-mail Stephen Bieda III with your thoughts, concerns or recommendations about the format and my office & he will be more than happy to accommodate.
For more info, e-mail Stephen Bieda III at

53% Tuition Increase since 2005

The University Daily Wildcat printed a sharp news article today on the tuition hikes. They also raise very important questions about how the money generated in these hikes will be spent. Interviewees express interest in increased club funding and better activities, but this seems to be the opposite of what the administration is looking to do. From the article:

“However, tuition hikes are nothing new to the UA. Tuition has been on a steady climb: in 2005 tuition and fees totaled $4,087; in 2008 it was $5,531 and next year, should the Regents pass the proposed raise in tuition, $6,257. This will mean since 2005, tuition at UA for an undergraduate will have increased 53 percent.”

“Should the tuition be raised according to Shelton's recommendation, the minimum increase every student at UA can expect will be $659. With the largest class in history, the school will generate at least $25 million in revenue. However, with out-of-state students, graduate students and college of medicine students paying more, that number should be much higher.”

How will the administration be spending that money? What other kind of business can justify a 53% price increase (well, except for the oil industry) and get away with it?
Write your ASUA president Tommy Bruce, or Provost Hay and ask them!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

GAT Roundtable with Pres. Shelton

Dr. Hay (our new provost) is rumored to have asked 'exactly what goes on in a language classroom?' and also to have said that she can imagine 1,000 person lectures on the U of A campus. While these rumors are unconfirmed, the administration's actions seem to be moving in this very direction.

Some extremely important issues that the administration may need to be enlightened on are:

1) Better salaries and better health benefits attract better quality graduate students, which makes the university more competitive and more likely to attract excellent grants and faculty.

2) Well-funded, well-supported GATs are better at teaching undergraduates and help improve their experience at the university. Undergrads rely on graduate student teachers to teach them key concepts and give them adequate feedback. If one GAT has hundreds of students, there simply is not enough time to give all of them the face-to-face interaction they deserve.

3) GATs and graduate researchers are the bread and butter of the university. We teach the classes, we grade the papers, we conduct the research necessary to satisfy grant requirements, we write the reports, we conduct the experiments, we aid our faculty in conducting research, and we study, research, write and publish. And yet, we are routinely ignored in the political processes of the university. We are overworked and underpaid. Salaries, amount of hours worked and benefits are often higher at other universities. If we expect to be a world class university, we need to attract world class grad students.

If you are looking for a forum to express your concerns about the direction this university is taking in the Transformation process or if you want to make sure Shelton understands the important issues for GATs, please consider participating in this roundtable discussion. According to the GPSC president, there are several seats left.

The possible dates are:

Tuesday, Nov. 18, 3:30-4:30pm
Wednesday, Nov. 19, 4:45-5:45pm

Please e-mail with your name, department, and availability.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

On Shelton's Visit to KUAT

Shelton says he is trying to budget without harming the delivery of instruction. Where, exactly, is the breaking point? Can language and composition classes be taught in a 1,000 person auditorium? Can we really justify a system that allows even majors to take the bulk of their classes with hundreds of others, like the science student at the Town Hall who said he's never had a class in his field with under 200 students in it? Is that World Class? With ASU raising class sizes, isn't this an opportunity for U of A to provide an alternative to over-crowded degree-factories? Are we willing to stand up for what we believe in?

“Any way we can stop spending this fiscal year, we have taken those steps.” Really? Why are so many classrooms still freezing cold? Why are there still fresh flowers being planted on campus? Why aren't students being encouraged to help out the university by conserving energy?

Oh, yeah, and by the way, KUAT is a registered trademark of the Arizona Board of Regents. For those of us who still felt attached to the romantic notion of truly independent journalism, it was disappointing to realize this connection.

Contact Bill Buckmaster and ask him if he's taking dissenting opinions:

Shelton on KUAT

Things Just Don't Add Up

Check out this opinion article from the Tucson Citizen:

In addition to pressing Shelton to make sure prices stay as low as possible for Arizonans seeking public higher education, the article says the following:

"The U.S. inflation rate is at 4.9 percent. The prospect of raising UA in-state student tuition by nearly triple that amount is stupefying.
The leap from $4,824 to $6,257 in two years is not only excessive, but also is completely contrary to the Arizona Constitution, which says a state university education "shall be as nearly free as possible.""

We agree with you, Tucson Citizen!

Let's examine some logical outcomes of pricing certain students out of the university system:
1) Poorer students will have little opportunity to lift themselves and their families out of poverty or near-poverty because they have less access to public education options.
2) "Public" education starts to look a lot like private education. Those who can afford it can have it and everyone else is excluded.
3) Shelton suggests that students get part-time jobs to offset the new increase in tuition, but the decline in the economy has made those jobs scarce. Even the U of A library stated that it will have to purge some 15 student workers next year. Where are these students supposed to earn the money to offset the cost of tuition now? If students work for the extra $726 (that's not including the new fee increases, just tuition) at minimum wage, that's 100 hours per semester (before taxes). How about we press Shelton to offer 100 hours of work to every undergraduate student who requests it? That would be sticking to his word.
4) If tuition prices are going up 13% and class sizes are getting larger, but inflation is only 4.9%, where is all that extra money going and what are the sacrifices we make in our quality of education?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Paying more for less

Despite his insistence that the amount of the tuition hike was not determined and that it probably wouldn't be the maximum, Shelton is set to recommend just that to the Arizona Board of Regents.

13% more, plus a virtual guarantee of larger classes mean that YOU ARE BEING ASKED TO PAY MORE FOR LESS.

Also, make sure to e-mail Shelton and ask him why the medical school students are being asked to pay a lesser increase in tuition than the rest of the university.

Library Cuts

Well, it's confirmed again. The library will be forced not only to cut books, but also to reduce the number of e-journals and other resources students use. Now is your chance to do something:
Check out all of the books you've ever wanted to read. Browse through the e-journal resources like JSTOR as much as possible and download the articles you need. They may not be there tomorrow!

Check the library website at for more detailed information on how the cuts will be made.

We would like to congratulate the library for being reasonable during this unfortunate betrayal by the administration. Unlike the U of A's other administrative processes, this one will be transparent:

"Due to inflation and a flat budget, the University Libraries must reduce its spending on information resources by $1.26 million dollars. This reduction will come primarily from cuts in the Library's book budget and thecancellation of journal and database subscriptions. How will we make these reductions? Reductions, as always, will be made in consultation with faculty, researchers, graduate students and other key stakeholders. We will also take into account campus priorities as they evolve from the Transformation Process and look forward to working with the campus on these issues.



Sept-Dec 2008 Library identifies & compiles needed data & information about information resources

Nov-Dec 2008 Library identifies potential cancellations & reduction amounts

Jan-Feb 2009 Library solicits feedback from UA faculty, students, researchers &o ther key stakeholders on potential cancellations

Mar 31 2009 Cancellations for time-sensitive renewals will begin

Sept 2009 Final Report to Faculty on cancellations

Oct 2009 Final Cancellations

To communicate with the library about the spending reductions, please email"

Don't let complacency overtake this transformation process. The economy is no excuse. Shelton promised when he was hired that he would protect the library FIRST. CHECK OUT BOOKS!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Now's your chance!

This was sent around by the GPSC:

"Sending this announcement again: There are a few slots left. The date for thediscussion will be announced next week. Deadline to RSPV: Nov 6, 2008. Greetings from GPSC President Stephen Bieda--President Shelton would like to hold a roundtable discussion with graduate teaching assistants. This will be limited to 24 students.
The two dates he is available are:
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 3:30-4:30pm ORWednesday, Nov. 19, 4:45-5:45pm
The focus of the discussion is the transformation process and the budget. Please respond to the GPSC ( with the names and email addresses of teaching assistant and the date they can attend. Please put"Shelton TA discussion" in the subject line. We will send a message regarding the venue after the date is set.
Thank you for your interest in the Graduate and Professional StudentCouncil.
Office Location: Student Union 323
Mailing Address: PO Box 210066, Tucson, AZ 85721-0066
Campus Mail: Administration 322
Phone: 520 626 7526
Fax: 520 626 7526"

Sign up now if you want a slot!

Monday, November 3, 2008

GPSC Meeting with Shelton

Shelton will be giving an hour of his time to hear the concerns of GPSC and graduate students at U of A. That seems less than we deserve, considering that graduate assistants teach and research for next to nothing and keep this university running. Even Shelton himself admitted in the Town Hall meeting that "graduate students are some of the hardest working people in this country." Make him stick to his word. Demand appropriate compensation and working conditions!

Wednesday, November 5 at 6 pm sharp, LAW 164. Wear red to make a visual statement that you will not be ignored!


Check out this sharply-written guest opinion for some serious insight on the restructuring process.

Our favorite part about the article is that the author takes a wide view of the university as a whole and reasons why certain proposals would not work. Also, he includes graduate students in his analysis:

"Another feature of this plan is that graduate assistants will take on more teaching responsibilities. More teaching will slow the progress through their programs and will likely lower the quality of their research. It will also hinder recruitment of the best graduate students because those students will go to programs where they can teach less and focus more on their professional programs."

*If you get a chance, forward the article to your colleagues. Or, better yet, sign up for free so you can leave comments after the article. Even better, write your own opinion piece or letter to the editor and explain exactly how graduate students decide which school to attend and how the increased teaching load will change our ability to do quality research.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Stat Counter

Stand up (or click) and be counted! There is now a statcounter at the bottom of the blog that counts visits. It was installed last week and we've almost had 100 visits already! Please encourage your friends to check out sallygradstudent and to write e-mails or leave comments to any entry: We will never publish any identifying information about you. We will not be intimidated!