Aug 212007
Authors: Nick Hemenway

Every single student at Colorado State is, in spite of what you may hear, extremely privileged to be receiving a college education.

While I don’t believe many take our journey through college for granted, I wonder how many of us see things in their proper perspective.

Did you know, according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 27.6 percent of people over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher? In other words, we are in a very privileged position.

Some would argue, many fellow columnists included, that this figure is so low because of the level of federal and state funding. There is no doubt that you will be reminded again this year by my colleagues that Colorado is among the lowest in terms of higher education funding.

But is this something to be ashamed of? Nowhere in the Constitution can you find the right to a government-funded college education. Higher education is a privilege, not a right.

Regardless, politicians and activists use the issue of education to take more money out of taxpayers’ wallets.

Take, for example, a little jingle you may remember called Referendum C.

In November 2005, voters approved this measure that allows the state to forget about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, for five years. TABOR is a law created in 1992 that limits the growth of the state and local governments in an attempt to curb unnecessary spending. With the passing of Referendum C, Colorado legislators are allowed to increase spending without hesitation until the year 2010.

Unfortunately, our government did what it does best and wasted our money.

The Denver Post reports that as much as $1.7 billion of the Referendum C money has gone to transportation budgets, not to education as it was advertised. With an estimated $4.2 billion coming until the 2010 deadline, little hope is in sight for that money to go to it’s promised place.

This, however, is irrelevant. The only important thing you need to know is that billions of dollars have been flushed down the bureaucratic toilet in Colorado.

Our tuition continues to rise, and we are still spending millions on construction projects here at CSU.

Was the $450,000 plaza remodeling project an effective use of funds? With that money, 145 students could have their in-state tuition totally paid for.

If we want to increase the quality of our education, we should stop letting the government drive this bus. We need to take control of our own education.

The next time the fear mongers come and tell us we can’t fund the university, instead of asking for more taxpayer dollars, why don’t people demand that we cut spending on unnecessary projects?

We should make it a goal to spend the least out of all the states. Then maybe they will make a new ranking list for the most efficient states in higher education.

Increased funding does not always increase quality. Too bad our schooling hasn’t allowed us to realize this.

So as we go about this school year, take the time to appreciate the prize that lies in front of you, because not everyone gets the chance that we have. We may not be the “best” funded institution, but we’re doing fine.

Nick Hemenway is a senior engineering major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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