ASU President Michael Crow joined students and faculty on the Downtown Phoenix campus on Nov. 29 to address student questions and concerns on a plethora of topics. The forum opened with remarks from Crow about University updates.
"Almost all of our lights are green," Crow said. "Student progress is outstanding."
Crow credited the "maximum" student diversity levels to the University being recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution earlier this year. Crow announced that all-in-all things at the University were going well.
As the forum transitioned to student questions, many were curious about what the future of graduate programs would look like with Michael Royer, a current Ph.D. student studying exercise and nutritional sciences, citing the levels of access to lab funding and research assistant positions.
"There seriously needs to be some form of way to address what I consider insufficient pay for the current financial situation of our country," Royer said in an interview with The State Press after the forum. "I wanted to ask potentially a harder question that’s currently impacting a lot of students."
Crow responded to Royer and other concerned graduate students by explaining students have to look at all avenues of support.
"I don’t know if people are looking enough at the jobs that are open at the university," Crow said, explaining that he and many of his colleagues have been through the struggle when seeking their own master's or Ph.D. programs.
Crow pointed to students struggling to afford the cost of graduate programs to student services and explained no student should stop their education at the University because of financial reasons. Despite some faculty being of the belief students should stick to one designated employment opportunity, Crow encouraged students to do everything in their power to get ahead.
"Faculty members that tell you that you can’t be employed outside of whatever the group is are wrong … they have no right or authority to say that," Crow said.
Crow's comments came as a graduate student strike at the University of California entered its third week.
Both undergraduate and graduate students were also informed of a likely tuition increase. Crow held strong to the idea that tuition would not change for in-state students by more than 3% in any given year, but with recent inflation rates, students should expect some form of a raise in tuition cost.
For international students, Crow explained the University would be working to maintain tuition costs close to the national average.
Florence Sarpong, a freshman from Ghana studying health care coordination, said she came to the event to get answers to questions like these.
"I needed some answers to my questions," Sarpong said in an interview with The State Press after the forum. "I needed to engage in some campus activities."
When Crow was asked about the partnerships associated with services like parking, mental health resources and insurance, he explained that the University is constantly evolving and trying to find better resources for students.
"We are doing everything that we can to enhance our ability to deal with, what we hope is, everyone experiencing some mental health issue," Crow said. "We want you to be able to find help, to find support, immediately."
Following the discussion on mental health, students inquired about the University's lack of response to recent current events such as the human rights issues in Iran.
"We don't comment on all events going on around the world … if we’re asked, we respond," Crow said. "We take positions on what is justice."
Crow went on to explain the way political differences blur the line between protecting the rights of students on campus while encouraging civil discourse versus the perpetuation of hate speech toward a specific group.
Crow concluded the forum by expressing the way he feels the students and staff have a responsibility to advance the school's intellectual agenda. Crow used rapper Kanye West as an example of a speaker that could be allowed on campus if students could show how he would contribute to a larger intellectual conversation.
"People have to speak up," Crow said. "They have to raise their hand and let someone know."
Edited by Reagan Priest, David Rodish and Grace Copperthite.