Keeping Their Promises

Feb 232009
Authors: Shelley Woll

Calling it “rare” that leaders in his organization act on each of their campaign promises, student government president Taylor Smoot said Monday that his administration will be one of the few to do so by the time he leaves office June 1.

But critics of his presidency suggest his office fell short of some of the expectations his campaign platform undertook.

The status of Smoot’s goals, which he called “audacious,” currently shape up like this:

Create a tuition accountability forum that “informs students of tuition expenditures and rising costs” — not implemented. Smoot says it will be by March 11, when student leaders will present student opinion on budget issues to CSU administration

Increase the number of vehicles for Ram Ride, a student-fee-funded ride service that operates on weekends to alleviate drunk driving –/implemented

Increase the number of bike racks on campus — implemented

Bring more bus frequency to the Lory Student Center station — not implemented

Extend library hours — implemented last year

Bring free wireless Internet to every area of campus — not implemented

Improve minority recruitment to bolster diversity on campus — Smoot says time is being invested in working with advocacy groups to increase diversity

Promote CSU’s “Green University” status by supporting recycling and energy conservation initiatives — implemented by increasing number of on-campus recycling sites

Bring in a controversial $90,000 concert by Lupe Fiasco and Three 6 Mafia for Homecoming celebrations, $70,000 of which came from student fees — implemented and

Spend $50,000 in student fees on bringing The Onion, a satirical news publication to newsstands at CSU –/not implemented after fees were refused in student fee package.

Now, as some of the goals have gone unrealized or shifted focus, Smoot and Girrens still maintain that their administration will be a success.

“We had audacious goals,” Smoot said, “And . Quinn and I are going to commit on every one of our promises.”

With a little more than half the year gone in the administration and a starkly different campus culture after CSU’s administration saw a massive shift in financial philosophy, when former CSU President Larry Penley resigned in a mid-semester announcement that shocked the CSU community, student leaders say the university must focus on academics.

Interim President Tony Frank committed the university to greater transparency than the Penley administration, which was the subject of mounting controversy in its last months, and promised to reinvest hundreds of thousands of dollars from swelling top-level budget in “The University’s academic core.”

Former Associated Students of CSU Chief of Staff Blake Gibson, who has long been an activist for student rights at the state capitol, said that in Colorado’s tight fiscal situation that places the state at the bottom of the barrel for funding in higher education, Smoot’s administration should have focused “on the bread and butter issues like tuition and fees.”

Smoot said student government’s March 11 presentation to administration will cover his promise to establish a tuition accountability forum as Senate members will present a wish list of what they hope the fiscal year 2010 budget will look like.

And he agreed with Gibson, saying that academics and classroom quality are the most important issues student’s are facing this year in light of dwindling state funds.

“Our ‘going green’ promises have been our strongest suit,” Smoot said. “But at the end of the day it’s not being green that makes a university, its what you learn in the classroom.”

Girrens said substantial changes to the structure of the Student Fee Review Board and a student-authored bill that would have brought voting rights to student members of the CSU System Board of Governors have brought the student voice to the forefront of issues facing CSU.

“I think we had a really successful change,” Girrens said. “There’s more communication between the board and the directors and I’m just really proud of laying the groundwork for the future years.”

“It’s easy to see a goal through that is already in the works,” Smoot said. “For example, fighting for tuition to stay low is already a (CSU System) Board of Governors stretch goal, and that’s going to impact our goal to increase the amount of diverse students.”

ASCSU beat reporter Shelley Woll can be reached at

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