LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Student government supports you, and this is how

Despite criticisms and accusations of betrayal, USG navigates state policy carefully to best represent the interests of current students and students to come.

Kelsey Files is a Senator in USG Tempe, representing the W. P. Carey School of Business. He serves as the Chairman of the University Affairs committee. He sits on the Financial Aid Advisory Board and is a self-proclaimed “Sun Devil Super-Advocate.” He is a senior studying Economics and Urban Policy.

When our state legislators are writing bills that make students feel unwelcome, it can be hard to see why student leaders would lend any form of support to a budget crafted by those who have not consistently demonstrated support for higher education in Arizona.

I think it is fair to say that students and university administrators alike are unhappy with the current level of financial support from our state. 

A recent State Press contributor correctly said that, indeed, financial support per pupil has fallen dramatically in our state since 2008. While Arizona students are not alone, our students saw some of the steepest tuition increases during this time period.

Largely, state university leaders understood that sacrificing the quality of education was not an option and had to compensate for the loss in state support through tuition dollars. In fact, at the most recent Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) meeting, ASU presented its business plan and reminded attendees that they lose money on every in-state student it educates. That’s right, you heard me, our state universities lose money on every in-state student. 

ASU and the ABOR have set a long-term plan so that state funding per pupil reaches 50 percent. While this year’s moderate increase does not go far enough to meet that goal, it moves us forward. That is why student leaders supported the governor’s budget. From a legislature who has not hesitated to cut our budget by dramatic amounts, this moderate budget increase is progress. 

This is in addition to other proposals to free up money for universities, such as allowing them to retain sales taxes from commerce on-campus.

If you think our students are not active at the legislature, you are dead wrong. As a Legislative Aide for the Arizona Attorney General’s office, I sat in on countless hours of committee meetings, floor sessions and caucuses. 

I saw ASU student leaders often and frequently, standing in the crowded chambers until the late hours of the evening. That’s in addition to our university legislative liaisons, who have many of our same desires and who spend countless hours advocating for ASU.

It was watching these leaders that encouraged me to run for student government myself. By canvassing on campus, speaking with students at every club that would let me visit and emailing every student leader I could, I persevered and won a seat in the USG Tempe Senate.

I have contributed countless hours to USG and the university in my efforts to enhance student life on campus, and it hurts me to think that some students perceive us as out-of-touch or believe we don’t see their side.

While I am not the voice of USG, merely a voice within it, I can assure students that they are all here to serve you. Go to asuusg.com and find a senator who represents your college. 

While it may not be obvious at times, never doubt that our university and student leaders are working hard to support you.

Reach the writer at kfiles@asu.edu or follow @kelsey_files on Twitter.

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

Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com. Keep letters under 500 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.