The quick posts continue. Yesterday after teaching class, I attended a health insurance forum for Univ. of Arizona graduate students. We have no prescription drug benefit, or dental coverage. At least we have health insurance that's paid for us.
Arizona is a weird place. It's like the Intermountain West mixed with the South. Thus, a fine institution like the UofA gets underfunded year after year by libertarian-type small-fry politicians in Phoenix. So outwardly the campus looks beautiful and is nationally recognized, while its treatment of grad students and professors leaves much to be desired. Profs don't get paid well, grad students get exploited more than at peer institutions.
The two administration guys in the photo were receptive to grad student points in the meeting, like one grad student with a terminal illness who said, "I have $23,000 in medications per year, yet my pay is $1,200 a month and I have no prescription coverage at all." Another student invoked the word "shame" when asking about how the administration felt about telling students to apply for government assistance, i.e. the dole, to get prescription drug and health coverage.
I actually empathized with the administration guys, because Arizona is a special case, and also because I am sure to leave this place soon. Arizona has an anti-progressive politics, which has resulted in the worst education system for any state, including Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, has resulted in health care and insurance coverage rates which are reprehensible. One student said, "If I had known what things are like here, I would not have came." Well, that's just the thing: administration can use the carrot-and-stick approach: get the grad students in unawares, exploit them, and get 'em out. Practically nobody is "from Tucson" anyway -- it's a transient place. There just isn't enough money to go around, period. Arizona is 50th in the nation in loan support for college students -- no help from AZ Sen. Jon Kyl, who voted against an increase on those. It's amazing that Gov. Napolitano and retired college president Likins could do what they did.
Given all this, it's a wonder that so many people are moving to Arizona. I guess they can afford to live behind eight foot concrete walls and send their kids to private school. Get yours -- that's the philosophy here. Where could a frickin' grad student fit into that? It's a wonder they don't give me 150 students per semester!