EDITORIAL: UA must put student needs above athletic dollars
Think back to the first day of classes; remember how hectic it was, trying to find parking, where you were supposed to be and how to handle the workload of the semester.
Now imagine you didn’t know where you would be living. You thought you had your dorm all set, and were looking forward to living close to your friends and other members of your community, only to have that all thrown in the air at the last minute.
For many students living in the Navajo-Pinal Residence Hall, that was exactly the situation they faced after a construction project and bungled reassignment plan left them switching dorms after classes had already started.
If this relocation had been the result of an unforeseen event, the expectation might be for students to soldier through and persevere. However, the scramble to find housing came after a renovation of Arizona Stadium that has been in the works for more than a year.
But the powers that be at the University of Arizona didn’t communicate effectively with Housing and Residential Life, student leaders or, seemingly, anyone who would actually be impacted by this project until it was too late.
One community that was impacted the most was Building Leaders and Creating Knowledge, which is affiliated with African American Student Affairs.
As Daily Wildcat reporting has revealed, the BLACK community was not informed they would have to pack up and leave until just a few weeks before the end of the fall semester.
When they were finally told what was happening, the resulting move, hastily planned and poorly executed, left students searching for parking permits and dealing with other headaches.
The UA failed these students by forgetting who would be impacted the most by these changes. If administration had started working with Housing and Residential Life, AASA and students earlier in the process, a smooth transition would have been far more likely.
Instead, the administration put its cash cow, athletics, above the needs of students. The fact that these students were mostly members of a minority community only adds to the disruption.
These students, who had signed contracts and paid for their housing arrangements, were not prioritized by the UA in its quest to improve attendance numbers for a football team that hasn’t won a conference title in 25 years.
By focusing more on potential ticket sales than student needs, the UA let down a portion of the community it is supposed to serve.
The university’s administration must remember who and what makes this an institution of higher learning, not a for-profit enterprise. Without students, this campus would just be a bunch of empty buildings, in addition to the empty football stadium.
University officials have been working after their glaring oversight to help those impacted by the move and ensure that everything was rectified, including cutting students checks as compensation.
Tens of thousands of dollars have subsequently been paid out to fix a problem that, with a little planning, awareness and foresight, would have never happened in the first place.
Administration must use this situation as a learning experience and strive to understand how students will be affected by major projects on campus in the future.
Without attention to student needs, the UA will continue to stumble from one blunder to another, and those who make the college what it is will continue to suffer.
Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat Opinions Board and are written by its members. They are Editor-in-chief Courtney Talak, Opinions Editor Andrew Paxton, Content Editor Marissa Heffernan, Engagement Editor Saul Bookman and Arts & Life Editor Pascal Albright. Follow Daily Wildcat on Twitter.