Oct 062009
 
Authors: Jonathan Kastner

Last Friday, CSU President Tony Frank sent out an e-mail that, over the course of 700 pages, explained that the future of our university’s budget was unknown at this time. Uncertainty, however, can breed fear, which as we all know leads to hatred and then to bad prequel trilogies.

To avoid this kind of disaster, I have taken it upon myself to help you predict what may happen with our impending budget crises, avoid the worst of it, and make certain that your many enemies are cosigned to economic oblivion.

Predicting the future is a good deal easier than one might think. This has been done for many years by reading tarot cards, examining the shadows of a large rodent and the green screen shadows cast by large weathermen. The trick to successful divination is to never look back and assume that if things don’t turn out as predicted, you averted the future due to excellent planning. Sorry to spoil the trick, Congress.

You can also look for telltale signs of impending doom. With the university’s budget crisis, this will be unveiled as various layers of the plan to fund CSU begin to succeed or fail. At each stage, different responses may be appropriate. I have outlined each stage mentioned in the president’s e-mail, and given a suggested response.

Scenario 1: Yet more legal shenanigans result in $14 million in cuts to CSU.

How to see this coming: The state vows to spend $140 million on a new arena for the Colorado Avalanche.

This could affect CSU in a number of ways, but thankfully, only until the fall of 2011. This is when things would have to swing back to the normal, already-reduced funding level that Colorado provides higher education. We should be able to swing that without too much trouble, unless …

Scenario 2: Lawyers conjure legal loophole demons that extend these cuts for three additional years.

How to see this coming: Students graduating from CU-Boulder’s school of law become heavily involved in budget decisions regarding higher education. CU is somehow classified as a farm and receives massive subsidies to continue not growing corn.

While CSU is planning for this type of worst-case scenario, this is the first tier of potential disaster where you’re probably going to start noticing changes around campus. In order to dodge personal consequence, you’ll need to do what both the corporate world and the government have done for years — artificially inflate expenses.

Cuts are usually based on a percentage of total spending. As a student, you only have so much control over needless spending (outside of your monthly alcohol and Pop-Tart budget, of course), but things like departmental printing labs and buildings with open study areas provide excellent opportunities for constructive deconstruction. Spend your way to a richer tomorrow!

These are the two potential pratfalls that were outlined in Mr. Frank’s email last Friday. However, he neglected to mention one very likely scenario:

Scenario 3: Mr. Frank re-floods CSU and flees to Cancun with insurance money.

How to see this coming: Our current university president has been quite good about keeping us updated. If this changes, and the lengthy explanatory emails become more like Tweets, he might be cracking under the strain. If the emails become less, “Let’s do what we can to model various scenarios and plan as strategically as possible,” and more, “OMG haet lawyer goin 2 do insurance frad,” it’s probably time to make sure he has a nice vacation package.

Of course, these are just some of the possible scenarios. It’s also possible that we’ll all come to our senses, fund higher education, restore the economy, discover a sensible health care plan and relieve our dependence on foreign oil.

Well, could we maybe do that farm subsidy thing? I’m pretty sure we can continue to not grow corn.

Johnathan Kastner is a senior undeclared major with a physical and mathematical sciences interest. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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