When the Arizona state Legislature wanted to cut 40 percent of the funding to state universities, students came out in huge numbers to protest.
Where were the massive crowds in the face of cuts this year? Sadly, not at the state Capitol — or really anywhere.
The Arizona Students’ Association, made up of student government presidents and appointed members from ASU, UA and NAU, is a lobbying group whose mission is to make higher education affordable and accessible. The group has provided a valuable service to students in the past, but this year has been incredibly disappointing.
ASA board members from ASU have blamed the inefficiency on internal conflicts and a flawed organization structure. Votes are divided by district, which seems odd, considering ASA doesn’t usually advocate on behalf of universities, rather on behalf of a united student front.
Andrew Clark, student president of the West campus and ASA board member, said ASA has three options for the future: dissolve the organization and give students back their money, use the money to fund student governments to lobby on behalf of students, or restructure the organization.
ASA has the potential to do so much for students, it would be a shame to get rid of it, and as much as we’re displeased with ASA this year, we’re not willing to hand over that money to ASU student government — they haven’t particularly impressed us this year, either.
So if making ASA an efficient body is really a matter of organization, we’d say restructuring might not be a bad option.
ASU students pay a $2 fee to support 50 percent of ASA’s general fund. This is one of the least controversial fees students have to pay. In the grand scheme of things, trading a measly $2 for the potential thousands of dollars students could be saving as a result of ASA’s work is a pretty good deal by our math. But the equation only works when ASA members aren’t caught up in unnecessary in-fighting.
If ASA had the ability to organize students from all three Arizona universities last year to stop major cuts, why couldn’t they have organized student outcry at the biggest tuition increase in our history? We know that the organization is capable of making big things happen — actually getting people to a rally in front of the state Capitol is no easy feat.
They still have the force of more than 100,000 students behind them, but they have to know how to make use of their influence.
These people are paid to represent you. You fund them and your interests should be at the forefront of their concerns.
So ASA, we know you are capable of making big changes, of saving students’ money and of making our voice heard. But if internal issues are holding the organization up, those issues need to be fixed. The power of organized student leadership is not one we can afford to give up.