Aug 162009
 
Authors: Ian Bezek

While CSU is not a particularly expensive school compared with other American universities, we are still paying more than we should be.

There are a variety of factors that combine to make sure we are overpaying for our education.

Some of these factors, such as the unreasonably high price of textbooks caused by a cartel of book publishers, plague all of America’s colleges.

Two of the problems we face are more local to Fort Collins, however. The first of these is our preposterous 3-Unrelated law that keeps the cost of rent artificially high.

This law mandates that no more than three unrelated people can live in a house together. Though supposedly created to keep peace and quiet in Fort Collins’ neighborhoods by keeping rowdy college students in line, the real effect has been more than just a slap in the face of our city’s students.

Besides being an insult to our whole age group, the law also costs us a great deal of money. By keeping students from filling up a house to capacity, it artificially raises the demand for housing while lowering supply.

This causes several unpleasant effects, the most notable of which is that rent prices go up markedly. Combined with Fort Collins’ generally anti-growth policies that make new housing construction difficult, it becomes difficult for students living off campus to find cheap places to live.

Another problem with the rule is that it lowers the density of population. Instead of having four or five people living in a house, only three people can live in each house. It takes a large amount of land to house all of CSU’s students anyway. Artificially lowering population density forces students to live farther away from campus, causing longer commutes, resulting in more traffic jams and more money wasted on gasoline.

Even those of you living on campus are harmed by this anti-student law. Since rent off-campus is artificially high, the university can charge more than it should for on-campus housing.

Speaking of excessive costs, the cost of tuition, the other big component of a college student’s budget, is also too high.

There’s a simple reason for this. If you’re a student just arriving back on campus, you might not recognize it. There are new buildings sprouting up everywhere. If you’re a freshman, you might be wondering why CSU, which markets itself as a green school, has no grass on campus.

Back when I was a freshman, there were fields and open areas across campus, but alas, we’ve paved over virtually every last one of them.

In their place, we’re getting a ton of new buildings devoted mainly to the Athletics Department in addition to the recently built Academic Village.

I don’t believe I am capable of counting high enough to tabulate all the millions of dollars we’ve spent on this building spree, but needless to say, it’s a ton.

There is rationale for this: Our campus is supposedly too dated, our residence halls too dingy, our sports teams not good enough because their facilities are lacking.

All of this makes sense, but one must ask whether that is sufficient justification to be spending millions of dollars now. This is a period of economic austerity, and yet our university is building as if our agriculture department figured out the secret to growing money trees.

In case you’ve forgotten, the state of Colorado threatened to remove hundreds of millions of dollars from higher education’s budget last year before finding a stopgap measure to fund us that involved swiping money from an insurance company’s rainy-day fund.

In other words, while our school’s funding prospects are cloudy, our administration just keeps on spending. The result, of course, has been that tuition continues to soar despite the sour economy.

We students are getting bilked in two ways; our anti-student City Council keeps our rent unreasonably high while our school continues a spending spree that you and I are funding.

I urge students get involved in local issues — we deserve to be heard, too. If nothing else, vote. City Council can ignore us if we don’t vote.

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

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