Regents Recap Day 1: Native American students speak out, Robbins' contract extended
The Arizona Board of Regents, or ABOR, the governing body for the three public universities in Arizona, are met this week to discuss important board policies, plans for general education reformation and review the performance of the University of Arizona. The first day of meeting to discuss policy and business was Thursday, Nov. 21.
Call to the audience
The regents held a Call to the Audience session in which anyone with comments or concerns that they would like to present to the board had time to do so.
Amongst them were Amanda Cheromiah, Tony Viola IV, Rani Yamutewa, Trinity Norris, Joshua Billy, Joshua Sandoval and Felisia Tagaban, who are all members of the Native American community on campus. Many of them are members of two groups: Native Student Outreach, Access and Resiliency and Voices Of Indigenous Concerns in Education. They different stories to tell that resulted in the same message: respect and representation on campus.
“I want you all to think about the ancestral indigenous land our three in-state universities reside on and the high populations of Native Americans — not only in the state, but with the 22 tribes that reside here that are waiting and have been waiting for [the board] to [do] more for us,” Viola said after describing the injustices faced in the current system and called on the board to make a change.
All referencing their treatment at the university, or lack thereof, they called to President Dr. Robert C. Robbins to make the change in indigenizing the schools more.
“In July of this year, the Daily Wildcat [reported] that Dr. Robbins said the following: ‘You are measured by how you treat your most vulnerable population,’” Tagaban said. “And I agree with you, our institution is being measured by how we treat our most vulnerable population.”
Also among the speakers there was Associated Students of the University of Arizona Administrative Vice President Kate Rosenstengel, who referenced her work on the Campus Pantry and FORCE but is only “putting a bandaid on a chronic issue” and called for the board to consider these students who give up basic needs to come to the university before deciding on tuition rate.
President Robbins’ contract extended
All three presidents of the public universities had their contracts extended by one year by the regents. This included the one-year extension of President Dr. Robbins’ contract as the president of the UA. This would extend his contract through June 30, 2022. Robbins’ extension was passed unanimously by the board.
Regents to ban sale and use of tobacco products
The board also discussed the prohibition of the use and sale of all types of tobacco products on campus, including electronic cigarettes or vaping devices.
“We need to send a very strong statement that vaping is a stupid choice, it is addictive, and it can kill you. I believe we owe it to our students’ parents to do exactly that,” said Regent Fred DuVal in support of the policy.
The policy currently just bans tobacco products on campus, but the proposed revisions will also ban electronic smoking devices. Electronic smoking devices, such as Juul, are targeting teens and are a chronic problem among students from middle school all the way to college. The board is hoping this will make it more inconvenient for students to buy these products if they are banned on campus, which some consider a step in the right direction in the war on the vaping epidemic.
Plan to reform general education
All three public Arizona universities will be integrating new general education reformation plans in the near future. The UA presented their general education plan in detail, including the timeline and the focus of this reformation. The general education refresh began in 2018 and will start going into full effect by the spring of 2022, with students starting to enroll with the new general education system in the fall of 2021.
The new general education plan will ultimately highlight the integration of a student’s major into their general education courses so students do not feel like they are “taking a random walk in the woods,”said Liesl Folks, the UA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. The new plan will also work to integrate general education across all four years, have guided thematic pathways, and include evidence-based practices that will hopefully be a core component in UA general education.
There were also concerns raised by board members on how exactly the changes will work, including worries of transfer students having barriers and students finding new passions due to the randomness of the current general education curriculum.
“I want to be really clear that there are often comments that come from graduates that say because of the randomness of the general education curriculum, they stumbled upon a new passion, and I take that to heart … No matter what we end up with, it will still be possible to do that for students that want to,” Folks said.
The other two universities also spoke on their similar general education plans that are scheduled to roll out in a time frame close to UA’s.
University of Arizona Foundation report
Through much commitment and teamwork, The UA Foundation team plans to be a part of the largest campaign yet with a $2-3 billion campaign goal. The UA has been a part of three large campaigns so far. In 1987, the foundation raised $196 million, $1 billion in 1997 and a $1.5 billion campaign in 2010.
The money from the plan will go into students, the arts program/district, athletics, research and health sciences. The aim is to have steady growth in investment and return rate. The investments being made are reported to be paying off, one of which focuses on helping graduating Wildcats land a job. The plan strives to invest large amounts of scholarship money on undergrads at the university, currently attempting to rework the requirements so more students have access to these funds.
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