As we begin the new school year, there are many issues concerning new and returning college students on which we should be keeping an eye.
The sheer size of the ASU student body is often daunting. Having so many people crammed into a densely populated area brings a host of problems only found in big cities. With the new “Walk-Only Zone” policies around the Tempe campus and the University-wide ban on tobacco products, ASU has taken an ambitious stance in eliminating common-place behaviors — a stance that will be difficult to enforce. It might have been more feasible to create designated smoking areas than to ban a legal substance outright.
As the University continues to expand, parking has become a major issue, especially given the construction along Rural Road. By restricting much of Rural between University Drive and Apache Boulevard down to one lane, Tempe traffic is even more nightmarish than before.
At the same time, growth is outpacing infrastructure to the point that several ASU Downtown Phoenix students were left without an available dorm room and had to be booked into the nearest hotel. Living in a hotel may sound like you’re living the dream (and on ASU’s tab, to boot), but you will perpetually be a guest in your “own” room. That’s not a way to live.
One of the better policies to come about this semester is the Tempe Police Department’s Operation Safe and Sober, which aims to combat driving under the influence and other alcohol-related offenses that plague college campuses. The efforts will include party patrols and a crackdown on fake identification cards.
Unfortunately, student loan interest rates remain a political football in the U.S. Congress and will in all likelihood continue to rise. The most recent legislation tied the interest rates to the state of the financial markets, meaning that as the economy improves and the cost of borrowing rises, students will come to owe more interest on their loans.
We’ll also be watching political struggles here on campus, with ramifications from last year’s struggle between the individual undergraduate student governments and the Arizona Students’ Association, a nonprofit advocacy group previously funded by a student fee. The group lost its support from student leaders and its student funding last year but is still present on campus.
The first few days of the semester are always a tumultuous but exciting time, even for returning students. Keep your eyes on the long-term, be safe and be smart.
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