ASU Downtown Student Government spearheading Board of Regents collaboration

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(Caleb Manning/DD)
USGD members attended NAU to join representatives from all three Arizona colleges to work out a collaboration with the Arizona Board of Regents. USGD hopes to be more vocal in state government. (Caleb Manning/DD)

ASU Undergraduate Student Government Downtown is part of the new Arizona Student Government Collaborative, which combines representatives from the three major Arizona universities with the goal of representing student voices to the Arizona Board of Regents and the state Legislature.

USGD Student Body President Corina Tapscott emphasized the advantage the collaborative when it comes to affecting change on a state level and including students in the government processes that directly affect them.

“The important thing is that we can either go about our goals as individual bodies or as a collective body and have a higher chance to get goals met, and the best part is that these goals are coinciding,” Tapscott said. “With this approach, we can really make students part of the team.”

With groups from ASU, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, the team is comprised of more than 150,000 students — a number expected to give considerable weight to the collaborative’s position in dealings with government bodies.

USGD recently had five representatives attend a series of meetings at NAU which took place from Sept. 23 to Sept. 25, where representatives from all three colleges began a dialogue with the Arizona Board of Regents. USGD Director of
university Affairs Nathan Brodie described downtown’s role as bringing “professionalism, energy, and focus” to the collaborative’s engagement with the Board of Regents.

He said downtown representatives intend to be leaders in the collaborative when it comes to being active and effective in policy.

Recent budget cuts are a large motivating factor behind the goals that USGD has been pursuing in the collaborative. Brodie said Governor Doug Ducey’s university budget cuts of $108 million are the first point of order.

The current proposition by the Arizona Board of Regents would highlight accomplishments by the Arizona university system since the cut, and would move for compensation in the form of $24 million given back to university funding in the 2016 fiscal year as well as a one-time grant of $75 million.

Brodie said this proposition could have a very tangible impact on tuition and the value of education for students downtown as well as in the rest of the state.

“What we want as a part of the student government is value out of graduating and that as a student you’re going to get a lot of value,” he said. “We want it to be as little money out of your pocket as possible but to have the maximum preparedness for your career.”

Brodie said the collaboration is still in its first stages, but he is optimistic about USGD’s involvement so far.

Student response to this effort has been mixed. While many are supportive of the budgetary proposition discussed at the meetings, certain student groups believe the collaborative may not be doing enough.

One such group is Students for Affordable Tuition.

“We’re still looking at numbers,” said James Arwood, the executive director of Students for Affordable Tuition. “We are glad that USGD is taking interest and making something happen, but we may be able to get more.”

Other issues to be covered by the collaborative will include topics like student safety and improvement of campus life.

USGD said the next step for the collaborative is a meeting with the University of Arizona Board of Regents, where members will propose an agenda to address individual points of policy.

Contact the reporter at csmannin@asu.edu

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