UAA students voice concerns over restructuring the university system

Published: Oct. 28, 2019 at 8:22 PM AKDT
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The University of Alaska is weighing whether to maintain accreditation for each of its three major campuses, or reduce to one accreditation to save money.

Anchorage legislators heard public testimony around restructuring the university system at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office on Monday. Students, faculty and residents lined up to voice their concerns.

Tuan Graziano, member of the UAA Student Government, said he was testifying to ensure that regulators hear the collective voice of the study body. He said many students have been overwhelmed by the controversies surrounding state budget cuts and UAA accreditation.

“With this whole entire accreditation process, most students only hear the word ‘accreditation’ because the Department of Education lost accreditation,” Graziano said. “They don’t understand the complexities of what single accreditation means; what the consequences are for UAA.”

Graziano said students’ voices are arguably the

most important

to contribute to dialogue around systemic changes. They are, after all, the ones who will directly experience the impacts of any big decisions.

“Just learning through and going through the process … it seems pretty clear that this accreditation process has not really involved the students, if at all,” Graziano said. “I think that’s a huge detriment to what we’re trying to do – trying to better the university system.”

Rose Kruger, another UAA Student Government member, said her choice was either to attend school in-state or work in a kitchen for the rest of her life. She said she’s glad she chose the latter, but hopes future students like her will be afforded the same opportunity.

“If UAA wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be at college. And I’m the type of student you want at your school,” Kruger said. “I’m involved; I have above a 3.5; I’ve applied for leadership honors; I’ve been in student government almost all four years I’ve been at UAA.”

“My fear is that if we change our university structure, we might miss out on potential students like me. Because for me, it was the option of UAA, or no school. I would have likely kept working in kitchens as a line cook,” Kruger said.

Kruger is a 28-year-old senior at UAA. She is finishing up two bachelor’s degrees – one in English with a focus in linguistics, the other in German. After being immersed in the controversies surrounding UA, she’s considering leaving the state to teach in Germany.

Representative Sarah Vance, R – Homer, told Kruger she applauded her testimony, and her decision to pursue an education.

“You should really celebrate your accomplishments and what you’ve done, because you are the student that we want in our system; who never had thought about college, but are now a shining star,” Rep. Vance told Kruger. “We hope that there’s a lot more of you coming, and that we can help make our university succeed for you and others behind you.”

to read about Monday’s UA Board of Regents meeting, covering these topics and more.

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