Yays and Nays

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Jul 282009

Yay | to newly-hired CSU Police Chief Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt. This is a win-win move for both CSU and Rich-Goldschmidt: We end a long saga that included embattled former CSU Police Chief Dexter Yarborough, and she moves out of the cow smell that is Greeley.

Nay | to moving into new apartments or houses for the upcoming school year. Be aware that there is never enough beer and pizza that can make up for helping a friend move.

yay | to the Lyric Cinema Café showing free cartoons every morning, except Sunday. Nothing is more special to a kid than cereal, free cartoons and stumbling drunks from the night before.

nay | to corrupt politicians in New Jersey. Honestly, let’s grow up. The Sopranos is over, so stop trying to relive the dream in your everyday life.

yay | to CSU President Tony Frank and Chancellor Joe Blake campaigning for funding for higher education. Hopefully this campaign has nothing to do with Maxwell Ranch.

Nay | to CU-Boulder ranking high on the Princeton Review’s list for party schools. As CU’s older, wiser brother, CSU needs to host an intervention.

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Revising a 1944 GI bill for Generation Y

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Jul 282009
Authors: Roberto Cervantes Daily Texan U. of Texas

(U-WIRE) – This fall, colleges may find themselves dealing with an issue that’s been largely kept at bay for some 60 years. The Post-9/11 Veteran Educational Assistance Act, signed by President George W. Bush last June, will go into effect on Aug. 1 – leading to a massive overhaul of the nation’s laws regarding educational opportunities for returning veterans.

Revising the language of the 1944 GI Bill, which was written for returning World War II veterans, the new additions will significantly expand the number of veterans who qualify for government aid.

Requirements to receive benefits under the new bill include a high school diploma or its equivalent and at least 90 days of active duty service on or after Sept. 11, 2001. Benefits are also available for service members who were discharged due to a “service-connected disability,” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Web site.

Those who meet the requirements are entitled to a specified amount of federal funding that corresponds with the amount of time they served in uniform. A veteran who served for at least 36 months, for example, could receive the maximum amount of benefits, while a veteran with at least a year of duty could receive 60 percent of the benefits available.

Wherever returning veterans fall on the scale, their federal aid will touch nearly every expense of college life that non-military students dread every new semester – including money for tuition and fees and generous textbook and housing stipends.

In any case, those who receive government aid must show proof of their honorable discharge from the military. A largely overlooked yet important aspect of this law concerns the discrimination that connects it to the military’s 1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, which dishonorably discharges openly gay and lesbian service members. As Congress and the White House move – ever so slowly – to repeal the discriminatory Clinton-era law, they must remain mindful that the law forbids extending the benefits to the thousands of gay and lesbian veterans who have as much a right to receive government funding as any straight, honorably discharged veteran does.

When viewed through the lens of history, the GI Bill’s first wave in the mid-’40s transformed the nation – easily making it one of the most important pieces of legislation of the 20th century.

As famed presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said, “(The bill) meant that blue collar workers, a whole generation of blue collar workers, were enabled to go to college, become doctors, lawyers and engineers, and that their children would grow up in a middle class family.”

The bill is credited by historians and veterans groups alike as being the key player in the creation of an American middle class whose actions continue to affect every following generation. It meant, for example, that going to college after high school would become the norm for much of the nation’s youth, as it is today. As college enrollment boomed in the ’60s, it brought with it a rise of student activism that undoubtedly shaped the campus we walk today.

As university students, we should be invested in how the new law is implemented for the simple fact that many of the returning veterans will be in our age range. They are our friends from high school who, while we chose to come to UT, decided instead to enlist in the military. They were the ones who, after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, felt compelled to fight the nebulous and immoral enemy that attacked their nation.

Questioning the reasons they chose to enlist and inserting our individual opinions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into a decision on how we move forward is futile and immature.

In perhaps the most ironic twist in the GI Bill’s history, when it was first being debated in Congress in the early ’40s, a slew of university presidents warned of the potential bill’s negative effects on their campuses if it became law. The former president of Harvard University said the bill would allow “unqualified people, the most unqualified of this generation” to get into college. The president of the University of Chicago thought the bill would produce “educational hobos,” Goodwin said. It would be impossible to find a university president expressing a similar sentiment today.

Facilitating veterans’ difficult transition to civilian life – and perhaps even more difficult transition to college life – will be a burdensome task for universities. But we can be certain the product of our effort will have ramifications far beyond our generation.

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Our View – A refreshing change to CSUPD

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Jul 282009

You bad boys better watch out — there’s a new police chief in town.

Former University of Northern Colorado Police Chief Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt was named as chief of the CSU Police Department last Wednesday, putting the months of searching and debating over potential candidates for the position at an end and filling the hole that former CSU Police Chief Dexter Yarbrough left behind in March.

We at the Collegian would like to congratulate Chief Rich-Goldschmidt for this achievement and welcome her to our campus. Her extensive experience and community involvement — in educational, law enforcement and drug committees and boards — will be a refreshing change from the controversy this university experienced this past spring surrounding Yarbrough’s resignation.

In an open forum held last month, CSU’s new chief said she wants to “be very visible, out greeting the community, building trust and one-on-one relationships.”

The Collegian hopes she follows through on those promises and gets to know the people and the community she has sworn to serve and protect.

As the former UNC police chief, Rich-Goldschmidt should have the leadership experience, tough attitude and goals in place to make our police force the shining example of how a department should operate.

We want to wish her good luck on her new position and welcome her to our campus and to Fort Collins as the lead-protector of the Rams.

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Decline of mall casts doubt on economy

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Jul 282009
Authors: Ian Bezek

Colorado is known for its ghost towns; it is fascinating to see abandoned yet pristinely preserved mining communities.

Oddly enough, however, we’ve developed our very own ghost town right here in Fort Collins. While the Foothills Mall has not been entirely abandoned, it is shockingly empty.

Other than a few teenage hooligans and a smattering of security guards, the place was empty during my recent visit. Far from the normal hustle and bustle of malls, at Foothills I could hear a pin drop.

What brought about the startling decline of our once-proud mall? As I was researching, I stumbled across the bluntly-named Deadmalls.com which shed light on the history of Foothills.

Established in 1973, Foothills soon dominated the Northern Colorado region, attracting shoppers from as far away as Wyoming and Western Nebraska. Foothills drove Fort Collins’ other mall out of business and was far cooler than competitors in Greeley and Cheyenne.

The Web site states that as Fort Collins grew, the mall began to decline. Retailers moved off of College Avenue to other areas of the city and as College Avenue grew congested, it became a hassle to shop at Foothills.

Then in the early part of this decade, two body blows hit the mall. First was the creation of the Promenades at Centerra, which diverted many of Northern Colorado’s shoppers away from Fort Collins. While Fort Collins residents still went to Foothills, people in Greeley and Loveland no longer were willing to make the drive to our older and less glitzy mall.

The knockout punch soon followed. Mervyn’s fell into bankruptcy and closed its store, and then J.C. Penney vacated it location as well.

This left Foothills, which, designed as a rectangle, needs four anchor stores, with only two. The corridor between Mervyn’s and J.C. Penney was soon vacated by other retailers as foot traffic declined.

As the economy turned sour, more and more retailers throughout the mall have departed, leaving only remnants of a once bustling community.

Things have gotten so bad, in fact, that the city has come up with a restoration plan for the mall area to avoid having the mall become an urban blight.

The city may have to act quickly as more stores continue to abandon the mall and the financial prospects for the two remaining anchor stores — Sears and Macy’s — are murky.

Complicating the situation further, the owner of the Foothills Mall, General Growth Properties, went bankrupt earlier this year, crushed by the weight of the debt it took on to finance the dozens of malls it owns across the country.

With its owner in financial ruin, it is highly unlikely that Foothills Mall will receive needed renovations to keep the place modern, competitive and desirable in the face of rising competition.

It is unclear whether the mall will be converted into a smaller shopping area, renovated or perhaps even closed entirely, following the path taken by several dead malls including the SouthGlenn Mall of Littleton, which was closed and then demolished in 2006.

If the failure of the mall leads to businesses moving into the Mason Street Corridor business development area that the city is planning, perhaps Fort Collins will benefit from the fall of Foothills.

Our mall is not alone; however, it is merely one of dozens of malls that have fallen into terminal decline. As the economy worsens, more mall operators go belly-up, retailers close stores and consumers –/having maxed out their credit cards and having lost their jobs –/spend less.

If Americans aren’t shopping enough to keep their malls open, one must ask how healthy the economy really is. While Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and President Obama keep saying things are starting to look up, we must remember that in 1929, after the stock market crashed, President Hoover assured the country that the economy was “fundamentally sound” just as we went headfirst into a depression.

It’s an ominous sign when Fort Collins, with more than 100,000 people, sees its sole mall turn into a ghost town. If America, a nation obsessed with brazen materialism, continues to see its houses of worship — the malls — further decline, the economy simply won’t yet recover.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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Campus Eye

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Jul 282009

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Former UNC police chief takes helm of CSUPD

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Jul 282009
Authors: Madeline Novey

When Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt was announced as CSU’s new chief of police last Wednesday, those at the department who heard the news gave their new leader a round of applause.

“She’ll be a breath of fresh air,” said CSU Assistant Police Chief Frank Johnson. “She’s what the department and the university need at this time.”

Wanting to further improve students’ and faculty perception of law enforcement, Rich-Goldschmidt said she aims to strengthen ties between police and the university community under her administration.

And though she said it’s premature to lay out the specifics of her plan to improve community policing, limited by what she called the CSU “learning curve” — a lack of knowledge about CSU programs — Rich-Goldschmidt said the development process will start Aug. 17, the day she steps in as the first female head of the CSU Police Department.

CSUPD’s smaller scope as compared with the city police departments, Rich-Goldschmidt said, contributes nicely to amplifying police-community interaction.

“Community policing on a college campus is really what law enforcement is all about,” Rich-Goldschmidt said. She said the principle is all about police officers walking the campus and talking with students and faculty.

The perception of law enforcement in the community is not bad, she said, but rather people do not know how the police can help them in various situations.

“We want folks to call us and share things that are going on, even if they think it’s a little silly. Call anyway, we’d just as soon know what’s going on than not,” Rich-Goldschmidt said. “We’re not going to arrest you. That’s a pretty huge challenge at times, to educate the community on our role as a police agency.”

Drawing from her experience with more than a dozen educational, law enforcement and military boards and committees, Rich-Goldschmidt, the former University of Northern Colorado police chief of six years, said her ambitions will flower from active partnership between members of CSUPD and university administration, faculty and students.

Rich-Goldschmidt used UNC’s Police Residence Hall Liaison Program, in which a police officer is assigned to act as a liaison and safety resource between one residence hall and the police department, as an example of this partnership.

Acknowledging that CSU has a similar initiative currently implemented, Rich-Goldschmidt said she imagines an even closer bond formed between the individual officer and his assigned-residence hall faculty and tenants through social events and discussions to uncover the root of problems.

“That is the direction we’ve been headed in,” Johnson said. “When she comes in she’s going to have a strong influence on that. Community policing is what any campus department should be focused on.

“That’s where we’re heading already, but she’ll continue those steps to make sure we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.

Vice President of Student Affairs Blanche Hughes headed the national search committee that narrowed its list of candidates for chief from 60 to the final three early last month. It was announced last Wednesday that Rich-Goldschmidt knocked University of Alaska Anchorage Police Chief Joe Dale Pittman and Commander of the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force and former CSUPD officer Jerry Schiager out of the running for the job.

Rich-Goldschmidt will report to Senior Vice President for Administrative Services Tom Gorell and hold a leadership position on CSU’s Public Safety Team.

The PST reports to the university president and develops safety and disaster response programs for campus. During the spring semester, PST monitored the Swine Flu outbreak and coordinated with CSU’s Infectious Disease Annex and the Center for Disease Control to create a plan if the outbreak were to reach campus.

When the university first advertised the position this spring, the salary was listed as between $110,000 and $115,000. Rich-Goldschmidt, because of her extensive experience will receive $115,000 annually with standard university benefits and uniforms and weapons, issued to all CSUPD officers, Gorell said.

Beginning as a patrol officer at UNC in 1987, Rich-Goldschmidt had a background that included stints as a corrections and security guard in several locations after 1991 and work as an associate in the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention.

Her current and past community involvement includes but is not limited to: membership on the Weld County School District Six Career and Education Technical advisory council, the UNC ROTC advisory board, the Weld County Criminal Justice Advisory committee, the Colorado Sexual Assault Prevention Advisory committee and the Weld Women’s Fund board of directors.

Rich-Goldschmidt said she will rely on the totality of her experiences as CSUPD’s chief.

“Well, I think leadership becomes a culmination of all your life experiences; I don’t think there will be one defining nugget there,” she said.

When asked what losses UNCPD will incur upon Rich-Goldschmidt’s departure, Lt. Dennis Pumphrey said it will be difficult to find a replacement who has the same “historical investment” in the university and Greeley communities but that the department will move forward in her absence.

“You’re getting an absolute outstanding individual in your neck of the woods,” said Pumphrey, who met then-UNC Officer Rich-Goldschmidt 22 years ago when he worked as a residence assistant in the UNC residence halls. “The good news is that she’s not going too far … but really, you have an absolute outstanding chief headed your way.”

Her greatest strength, Pumphrey said, is her “in-depth understanding of the university system,” and her ability to bring groups with differing opinions together to collaborate and develop solutions.

The search for a new chief-of-police began shortly after former embattled Police Chief Dexter Yarbrough resigned in March amid allegations of sexual harassment and a highly publicized on-going personnel investigation.

His abrupt resignation came after instances of alleged impropriety. In taped recordings, Yarbrough, who served as an adjunct faculty member and taught a criminal investigations class, suggested to students that police officers should lie and in one lecture in spring 2008, advised his students to provide illicit drugs to informants as payment for information.

When asked to comment on Yarbrough’s resignation Rich-Goldschmidt said, “I’m really looking forward to working with the team and continuing the fine reputation that they have made, and I’m looking forward to moving ahead.”

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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Library closes after police investigate suspicious package

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Jul 282009
Authors: Madeline Novey

After police were called to investigate a suspicious package left on a table in the Morgan Library Tuesday evening, bomb squad officials determined there was no threat a spokesperson said about half and hour after the incident occurred.

The library was evacuated at about 6:20 p.m. after the police were called about a package, “wrapped in a lot of tape,” left on a table on the third floor, said CSU Spokesperson Dell Rae Moellenberg.

The Fort Collins EOG, or what Moellenberg said was the equivalent of a bomb squad unit, examined the package. At this time, no additional information about the package, whether it’s an envelope or box, is available.

Moellenberg said the package was either promptly returned to the owner, a female CSU student, or would be at a later time.

The library was re-opened shortly after the incident ensued.

Development Editor Aaron Hedge contributed to this report.

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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CSU student found dead in Boulder home after drinking poppy tea

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Jul 282009
Authors: Stacey K. Borage

Jeffrey Bohan, the CSU student whose body was found in Boulder on July 21, may have died after ingesting narcotic poppy tea, investigators said earlier this week.

Police were called to a house on the 4300 block of Hanover Avenue in Boulder at approximately 6 a.m. after his older brother, 21, discovered Bohan, 19, was not breathing, said Sara Huntly, a public information officer for the Boulder Police Department.

“The older brother estimates they went to sleep at about 4 a.m.,” Huntly said. “Between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., (Bohan) went into medical distress,” meaning he wasn’t breathing.

Because this investigation is still open, Boulder Police will not release the older brother’s name.

Bohan drank an unknown amount of poppy pod tea with his older brother at approximately midnight on July 21 at a friend’s house, Huntly said.

“Prior to both the brothers going over to the Hanover address, they consumed tea they had made from the poppy pod,” she said. The Boulder Police does not yet know the location where they drank it.

Even though Bohan consumed the potentially lethal tea, until toxicology reports come back in two weeks, Boulder County Coroner Thomas Faure will not make the assumption that his death was caused by an overdose on poppy pod tea.

“They may have consumed other drugs; we don’t know if there were any other circumstances,” Faure said. “It’s still in the midst of the investigation, and we’ve made no ruling on it yet.”

Once the poppy pod tea is in the system, it is converted into morphine, Faure said. The drug suppresses respiratory functions, which may ultimately lead to death. According to poppies.org, the tea contains other psychoactive drugs including codeine, papaverine and thebaine, all potentially lethal.

The strength of the tea, made from either fresh or dried opium poppy pods, depends on how it is brewed, according to the Web site.

There is no way to know the potency of the tea Bohan drank, Faure said, adding this uncertainty increases the difficulty of knowing if you’re going to overdose on the tea.

Boulder police said there is no evidence the use of poppy tea is becoming a popular drug trend when asked about another recent case in which a 20-year-old male was found dead in his Boulder home on Feb. 22 as a result of an opium overdose from drinking poppy pod tea.

CSU Spokesperson Dell Rae Moellenberg said Bohan was a CSU freshman, and even though he had not signed up for classes in the fall 2009 semester, he was still listed as an active student.

Staff writer Stacey K. Borage can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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Ditch remodel second stage of West Lawn improvements

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Jul 282009
Authors: Alexandra Sieh

Depending on funding, the lowering of CSU’s West Lawn and installation of two new soccer fields won’t be the only stage of construction this project sees. Facilities Management also hopes to realign the ditch and bike path that run through the lawns, moving them closer to the Lory Student Center.

According to Fred Haberecht, the assistant director of landscape and planning with Facilities Management at CSU, this adjustment is being made to not only give enough space for the soccer fields, but to improve the appearance of the area.

“Right now there are really sharp sides to (the ditch),” Haberecht said, “so the idea is to make it a more functional and aesthetic feature, widening the banks and including places to sit along side of it.”

The water portion of the ditch will remain the same width, with the sides being widened to accommodate seating areas for students next to the water. The bike path will remain 12 feet wide.

This portion of the project is expected to begin during the winter, when the water in the ditch isn’t running, and completed by spring 2010.

The final stage of this construction will be the removal of the temporary parking lot located across from the Recreation Center to the east.

The parking lot, a “Q” lot, will remain in use during the 2009-2010 academic year, but during the summer of 2010 the area will undergo the same construction as the current field, being lowered and re-sod to create more lawns and an informal amphitheater near the lagoon.

The budget for both of these projects is still undetermined at this point, Haberecht said, and they are waiting to see how the first stage, lowering the West Lawn and adding the fields, goes before deciding on an amount for the remaining stages.

Assistant Design Editor Alexandra Sieh can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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Leaders look to increase CSU cash flow

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Jul 282009
Authors: Aaron Hedge

The top two employees of the CSU System are traveling the state and nation to convince notoriously tax-resistant Colorado voters to approve more money for the state’s cash-strapped colleges and universities.

The campaign — which looks not to bring answers, but raise awareness — is not unlike that for a policy in 2005 that temporarily alleviated some of the state’s funding woes, which placed Colorado at the bottom of the barrel for higher education funding in the nation.

The only difference is that, as CSU President Tony Frank says during stumps at Rotary clubs and in rural communities on the Western Slope, there isn’t a clear option for bringing in more money.

In the campaign, Frank and System Chancellor Joe Blake drive around the state and the country, rubbing elbows with voters to convince them to pay attention to the state’s students.

Giving pieces of what he called his “Rotarian speech,” which he gives at Rotary clubs, Frank told the Collegian in a phone interview from his truck, on the road between Grand Junction and Montrose, that Colorado must be careful in allocating money to higher education.

“If we choose to privatize higher ed in Colorado, we shouldn’t do it accidentally,” he said. “We shouldn’t do it quietly.”

Colorado policy leaves universities “in the yogurt”

The Colorado Constitution — which Steve Johnson, a former member of the state appropriations committee, called a “spider web” last year — is riddled with contradictory legislation that allocates a smaller piece of a dwindling financial pie to fund higher education.

In 2005, Blake, then chair of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, began a campaign to alleviate some of those woes. The campaign resulted in the passage of Referendum C, a policy that temporarily changed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which only allows a 6 percent tax increase every year unless voters approve a larger one.

Blake, who is now the chancellor of the CSU System and is spending time on the road with Frank to win voter approval for more cash flow to colleges and universities, said the issue needs the state’s utmost attention.

“It is a very, very complex and difficult problem to solve,” Blake said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Colorado has tried to implement a number of measures to fix the funding shortfall ranging from what lawmakers have called “Band-Aids,” — like extending Referendum C –/to more dramatic measures,/namely completely rewriting the Constitution.

The “Band-Aids” include:

A 2008 measure, which was killed in the election, that would have repealed a massive tax break for oil companies and reallocated the revenue to colleges and universities, and

2008 legislation that increased the betting limit for gamblers in the state and allocated the money to community colleges. It passed.

A rewrite of the Constitution, which then state Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, proposed in 2003, is the only way to completely fix the problem, Johnson said last year.

No one in the House of Representatives or the Senate voted for White’s proposal.

But White, now a senator who sits on the Joint Budget Committee, said the idea of a convention to revamp the document is riddled with uncertainty as, while the Constitution allows for a convention, no rules are in place to facilitate such a complicated legislative move.

“Until a lot of those mechanics are identified, it will be almost impossible,” White said in a phone interview Tuesday.

As for the measures that have been proposed, White said they either don’t pass, or they don’t address the entire issue.

In reference to Amendment 50, which sent money from Colorado’s casinos to its community colleges, he said: “It’s left the rest of higher education out of the mix and still in the yogurt.”

And Amendment 58, which would have imposed severance taxes on oil companies for more revenue for higher education, didn’t pass.

Voters unlikely to approve tax increase

As for options to bring in new revenue in the future, which include possible tax increases, politicians have said the Constitution leaves their hands tied.

“I’m dubious that the voters would be willing approve a tax increase,” White said.

Without a tax increase, he said, Colorado’s barrel of public money for higher education could be empty within the decade, depending on the economy, which will force tuition to spike even more than it has in the past. It has increased about 10 percent at CSU every year for the last five years.

If the state stops funding higher education, Frank said, CSU would have to downsize.

“You’d be a smaller institution that doesn’t have as much quality, and prices would increase,” he said. “. Paying more and getting less is not a good business model.”

Frank said that, although the cost of education has not increased nearly as sharply as the tuition price tag, the cost is being shifted more and more onto the backs of students.

“If you’re the family paying that, it’s gone up dramatically,” Frank said.

In 2008 alone, tuition at CSU increased 16 percent.

Development Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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