Time is running out to advocate for lower tuition

The Arizona budget will be dropping soon, your time to act is now.​

I remember sitting in the gallery of the Arizona State Senate nearly a year ago, watching arguments — it must have been around 5:30 a.m. (the perfect start to any spring break of course). The state Senate was debating a $99 million cut to universities. They needed 16 votes for a majority to pass the cut, and I remember watching as the number on the screen turned from 15 to 16 ‘ayes.’ 16-13-1. That was the final count. Since then, university affordability for students has continued to be an issue.

I remember feeling anxious as I returned to Taylor Place. I laid in bed after spending an all-nighter at the state Legislature, anxious over what these cuts would mean. The sun drifted into my room as I closed my eyes thinking about all my friends who would be affected by this cut.

In the weeks that followed, I pondered what could have be done differently to change the outcome. The idea that resurfaced consistently was a mechanism that we could utilize to push the universities as a legislative priority.

Our Arizona legislators can be contacted via email or phone number, and if enough students contact them with their opinion, perhaps the outcome of this next budget will be improved for students.

Any time in the next month, and possibly even as soon as next week, our state Legislature will be voting on the state budget. Our legislators value our opinion, and they do listen to us. As students we must make our voices heard. Since the recession, Arizona’s universities have been cut $463 million, which has resulted in tuition spikes of 84.3 percent. We can no longer be silent, because too many students are living in debt, and on the edge of dropping out. Too many still are trying to afford our University, but can’t.

You can write Facebook posts about your frustrations about tuition. You can tweet jokes about being poor in college. But if you don’t act, then your opinion will not be heard. We cannot simply be complacent, when we have this opportunity to change it. Once the budget is passed, it will be another year until the next budget will be debated.

Your voice matters, and no matter what side of the political aisle you sit on, this issue directly affects you. It directly affects your friends. It directly affects our future. Act now, because soon it will be too late.

You don’t need to change the world to change the cost of tuition, you just need to change the minds of a few people, and as last year’s budget battle shows, every vote counts.

Reach the columnist at jarwood@asu.edu or follow @jimsthebeast on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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