Speak your minds on Colorado government investments, CSU: Guest column

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Oct 312011
 
Authors: Chase Eckerdt

According to a non-partisan study conducted by the University of Denver, 12 years from today, Colorado will generate only enough revenue to pay for the three largest portions of the state budget: K-12 public schools, health care and prisons.

Beyond the “big three,” there will be no tax dollars left to fund “public colleges and universities, no money for the state court system, nothing for child-protection services, nothing for youth corrections, nothing for state crime labs and nothing for other core services of state government.”

Our state budget is like a pie that is getting smaller every year. However, not only is the pie getting smaller, but individual pieces of the pie are getting bigger. Due to Constitutional mandates and rising costs, Colorado is losing its ability to fund anything but the “big three,” and this will worsen over time. When Governor Hickenlooper releases his budget proposal in early November, there could be as much as $100 million in cuts to higher education across the state; about one-fifth of the state’s total higher education funding. It’s a scary moment for Colorado.

I fundamentally believe the state, like much of government, should be making serious cuts to help trim the fat off their budget; but, trimming the fat is different from removing vital organs.

It’s impossible to imagine a functioning society that eliminates its court system or child protective services. So what is it exactly that we need to fix? Well for starters, steady long term economic growth would be a major step in the right direction. The Colorado Revenue Forecast, released Sept. 20 by the Colorado Legislative Council Staff, observes that while there is evidence of a modest economic expansion, there is an increasing chance of a recession in the near future (for both Colorado and the United States). National events have created insecurity in the business community and core components of economic recovery are stale.

Net private investment in Colorado is currently 34 percent of what it was prior to the recession and the housing and construction sectors, where the recession began, continue to struggle for momentum. In the short term, Colorado, like the nation, must find ways to spur job creation and foster confidence in the business community.

Next, we have to take a look at the systemic problems with our state’s financial structure that are problematic no matter what the current economic situation might be. Regardless of how you feel about TABOR or Amendment 23, combined they are creating a challenging set of budgeting circumstances for leaders across the state.

Voters restricted revenue in all levels of government across the state by passing an amendment to Article X of the Colorado Constitution, now known as TABOR, and over time this has greatly restricted the state’s ability to collect revenue. Amendment 23, passed in 2000, mandates that the state must increase funding for k-12 schools equal to inflation plus 1 percent through 2011. After 2011, funding must continue to be increased equal to inflation. Essentially, these two functions of the state constitution are working in the opposite direction. You can imagine why state leaders are having such a difficult time enacting long term solutions.

College students are right in the middle of all of this and should have their voice heard, regardless of where opinion falls. ASCSU employs a full time lobbyist at the state capital and members of our Governmental Affairs Department testify on legislation regularly. We are working closely with policy makers to fight for higher education as well as address Colorado’s other challenges.

Please come and utilize us as a resource. This article is intended to both inform you of the challenges we face and also encourage you to get involved. ASCSU is right in the middle of all this on your behalf. Remember, if you want your opinion to get heard, you have to participate.
Let us help you do that.

Chase Eckerdt is the Director of Governmental Affairs of ASCSU.

 Posted by at 4:48 pm

Colorado snow and falling trees at CSU make us miserable: Fresh and seasoned

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Oct 312011
 
Authors: Emily Kribs, Libby Williams

Emily Kribs, freshman

As any local university or realtor will be eager to tell you, Colorado boasts about 300 days of sunshine a year. Some basic math indicates this leaves around 65 to 66 days of clouds, rain and, of course, snow.

I used to love precipitation. In fact, I still do, despite the fact it seems to have been trying to change my mind on the matter ever since I’d gotten my driver’s permit just under four years ago.

Rainy days are my favorites, but snow is a close second. When I saw a forecast calling for a round of winter’s claim to fame — yes it’s still fall, but no one cares — I was excited. Sure, I’d made the error of leaving my boots at home to be retrieved on my next visit, but no worries. I wouldn’t be participating in any snowball fights, but I could get by in Converse.

When I got a weirdly punctuated email from Tony Frank on why classes weren’t canceled on Wednesday, I scoffed. This is Colorado. If classes were canceled every time there was snow on the ground, we may as well head home until June.

At this point I shake my head with a small, sad smile, recalling my youthful arrogance. What a fool I was!

Well, OK, it wasn’t that bad. But I wasn’t banking on falling tree branches, or expecting those limbs that survived to shower me with snow every 10 feet. Even as I type this, the tree outside my dorm window is dropping snow so hard and fast that I first thought someone was celebrating Halloween with some fireworks, or perhaps playing the drums.

Also, as it turned out, slogging through snow in Cons sucks. It was, however, mandatory; I’d put a plastic bag over my bike seat, thinking I was oh so clever for planning ahead like that. However, that did not protect my tires, my handlebars or the sidewalks.

The best part, however, was trying to reach my class in Johnson Hall by the Oval. After a man in a garish orange truck instructed me to take a circuitous route and to watch for falling branches, I arrived alive and then endured an hour and a half of geography. Towards the end of the lecture, I received a text stating that classes were canceled after five –– which was great, except that particular class finished at 4:45.

All in all, I wouldn’t put this down as one of my better snowstorms. My sopping wet socks might have had something to do with that. But this can’t happen every time it snows, or there wouldn’t be any trees left on campus, right?

Libby WIlliams, senior

Given the amount of snow we typically see in Colorado, natives seem to have a sort of ego about such weather conditions. Take, for instance, those you see on campus trudging through nine inches of snow and 20 degree temperatures wearing only a sweatshirt. A sopping wet one at that.

Or those who think that growing up in Colorado makes the average pair of Converse more resistant to several inches of precipitation.

I have to admit, I fit into this category. I don’t own snow boots. And I didn’t think I’d need boots for the first snow of the season, anyway.

Maybe Coloradans have evolved to be winter-weather tolerant. In fact, those Converse sneakers did get Emily to and from classes successfully, and my feet are still intact too.

But Mother Nature is cunning. This time, she decided to send a hint to those snow-resistant Colorado natives –– to those of us who don’t dress appropriately for winter weather –– that snow storms can be treacherous.

Enter falling tree branches.

Neither a Denver meteorologist nor Tony Frank could’ve predicted that one. And in my mind, falling tree limbs are more problematic to students trekking across campus than a bit of blowing snow and ice. And even if you were lucky enough to avoid the falling branches, those few remaining, undamaged branches seemed to be scheming as to when to drop a foot of snow right on top of those sweatshirt-wearers.

Thankfully for us, CSU recognized the danger and closed the only place on campus that has trees: the Oval. Not.

EVERYWHERE on campus has trees. Even an area with minimal foliage, the Montfort Quad, was difficult to navigate. Students made paths around the sidewalk laden limbs to get to class.

And then after 5 p.m., when the damage had been done, they decided to close campus. What!? Now, I understand that every time it snows, you can’t cancel school. Especially in Colorado. But there were some extenuating circumstances last Wednesday.

I’ll admit, in comparison to other snowy days I’ve experienced at CSU, driving conditions were good. The actual amount of snowfall was average. Without missiles in the form of tree limbs, this would have been an otherwise normal Colorado storm, and I would have never expected campus to close.

But when I arrived on campus and saw trees missing their well-established branches (we are talking eight to 10-inch diameter limbs, here), it was evident that this storm was abnormal. Mother Nature did make her point on Wednesday.

So Colorado natives and even non-snow dwellers, next storm, make sure to add a bike helmet and shoulder pads to your sweatshirt-converse duo, and attach a little bubble wrap too. If you’re not worried about staying warm and dry, you should at least protect yourself from falling limbs.

 Posted by at 4:43 pm

Yays and Nays 11/01/11

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Oct 312011
 
Authors: Collegian Staff Report

Yay | to the cute trick-or-treaters in the LSC last night. It reminded us of what it was like to walk around the neighborhood asking for things other than free Burnett’s.

Nay | to Kim Kardashian filing for divorce from her husband of 72 days, Kris Humphries. If those two soul mates can’t make it, how will anyone survive in the battlefield of love?

Yay | to the guy dressed as a Greek god in the Plaza yesterday. Sure, your flawless body made us feel even more conscious of our fat, but you exemplified the true spirit of Halloween: hot bods.

Nay | to Halloween hangovers. Note: the copy errors in yesterday’s paper.

Yay | to Thanksgiving week being two weeks away. Because we can’t wait much longer to stress-eat our weight in pie.

Nay | to ASCSU not taking a stance on Prop 103. It’s great that the student government in charge of advocating for students will not take a stand on a bill that’s all about students.

 Posted by at 4:35 pm

Shallow Real Housewives overshadow truly beautiful women: Guest column

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Oct 312011
 
Authors: Katie Leigh Hutt

I am a feminist. I wear make-up, I shave my legs and I don’t burn my bras, but I am still a feminist.

I believe in the equality of men and women and not the dominance of either sex. But the thing I believe in the most is the worth and beauty that every woman holds.

Our society teaches us that women are meant to be silent and elegant. Women were created simply to please man and be used by them and therefore should dress and act accordingly. Our society tells women that their only worth is as objects. Society tells us that if a woman is sexy enough and has money, the she has fulfilled all her potential. Because of this, women don’t live to their full potential and are missing out on all that the world has to offer.

With role models like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton and “The Desperate Housewives,” it’s no wonder why women aren’t running the White House or are rarely the founders of major organizations and companies. And the fact that women are almost never in the history books and still to this day are given less publicity than men doesn’t help in showing women all the potential and possibilities they have. But what about real women like Wanagri Maathai, who was the first woman in Kenya to receive a PhD and Nobel Peace Prize? Or Condoleezza Rice, J. K. Rowling, Hayley Williams, the lead singer of Paramore, or Audrey Hepburn, who was not only an actress but also one of the founders of UNICEF?

Finding powerful and strong female role models is only the first step to fulfilling our full potential.

The next step is to realize how absolutely beautiful and wonderful you are, just as you are (the second part of that is crucial!). Every single inch of you is filled with beauty and power.

Your worth, your strength and your potential is astronomical! Women were created to complete man. They fill in the places where men are weak and vice-versa. Together we complete each other in the most perfect way. Women were not created to be walked on by man or to be servants for men. Women are a precious gift to be adored, appreciated and taken care of.

If only all of you could see how wonderful and magnificent you really are. Your love and compassion can end wars and protect lives. Your motherly instincts are what repair the world and provide development in communities that are suffering. When a woman is educated, she educates those around her. (Just think about how much we love to talk.) You are the answer the world has been looking for.

Stand tall, strand strong and encourage the women that surround you. Know that you obtain more worth and power than you’ve ever imagined, and no one can take that away from you. I see the dreams that fill your hearts and know that they are possible as long as you continue to run after them.

I am a feminist because I believe and see the greatness that is in each and every woman. I encourage women to tell me everything that is beautiful about themselves and to never feel bad for loving themselves. Society has told them to list their flaws, and that it’s conceited to love themselves. But I am hear to say, women of the world, stand up and embrace the beauty that is you!

Katie Leigh Hutt is a junior art major.

 Posted by at 4:33 pm

CSU Students need to vote on Question 300 today

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Oct 312011
 
Authors: Collegian Editorial Board

As college students, we tend to get a bad reputation for our turnout in elections, especially non-presidential elections like the one taking place today. Although these special elections might not have the glitz and glamour, there are still issues on the ballot, both local and statewide, that are important to our age group. And as members of a community, it is key that we exercise our right to vote.

The Collegian editorial board would like to highlight two issues on the ballot that are of importance to our college age group: Proposition 103 and Question 300.

Proposition 103 is a state-wide measure that would generate an estimated $536.1 million toward public education from preschool to college. To do this, the sales and income tax rates would be raised. State income tax would go from 4.63 percent to 5 percent, and state sales tax would rise from 2.9 to 3 percent.

On Proposition 103 the Collegian editorial board urges a yes vote. As college students, we know first hand the state of our higher education funding, and this plan is a step in the right direction for us.

Question 300 would ban the 20 medical marijuana dispensaries within 90 days, if passed. On this issue the editorial board urges a no vote. The majority of our board is not convinced by the crime statistics brought forth by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office. We also feel the use of medicinal marijuana is a legitimate form of care for many in our community.

No matter what your view is on these issues, we urge you to get out there and vote.

 Posted by at 4:14 pm

Reasons why I still support Obama as president

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Oct 312011
 
Authors: Joe Vajgrt

Nov. 1 means we’re just one year away from the next presidential election. The state primaries will be starting soon, and we can all sit back and enjoy watching as the circus that is the GOP race for the nomination unfolds.

When the subject of national politics comes up, people inevitably ask what I think about President Obama and the job that he’s done.

I was an adamant supporter of Obama in 2008. I canvassed. I called. I gave money and proudly rocked a bumper sticker on my car. Needless to say, I bought into the “hope and change” mantra as I’m sure many of you did, too.

I completely understand why people have been disappointed. The unemployment rate is stuck at around 9 percent, the economy is still struggling to find traction, we’ve been engaged in so many wars and foreign conflicts they’re hard to keep straight and we still haven’t addressed some of the most glaring domestic issues such as immigration.

The list could go on and on. Naturally, the president is going to take the heat when there are so many problems that don’t seem to be getting any better.

But you know what? This time next year, I’m still going to vote for Obama.

Obama has enacted a great deal of reform in the face of unprecedented obstructionism and opposition from the far right. While filibustering is nothing new, Republicans in the Senate have shattered the record for using this tactic by utilizing the method every step of the way.

“The numbers are astonishing in this Congress,” said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University in an interview with the Huffington Post. “The filibuster… is alternately blamed and praised for wilting President Barack Obama’s ambitious agenda. Some even say it’s made the nation ungovernable,” he said.

An “ungovernable” nation is pretty much what we’ve got now. Congressional approval ratings are at an all-time low, and the constant obstructionism, hyper partisanship and political posturing are the source of voters’ malcontent.

In this political atmosphere, it’s remarkable that President Obama has been able to accomplish anything. While the list of Obama’s failures is substantial, his list of accomplishments is more impressive.
Consider that Obama:

  • Overturned the Bush-era limits on accessibility of federal documents and ordered the White House and all federal agencies to respect the Freedom of Information Act, fulfilling his campaign promise of transparency. He’s also held open meetings with Republican leaders, despite their claims of a lack of access and information.
  • Was instrumental in saving the U.S. auto industry. Extended unemployment benefits for one million workers. Additionally, funds from the oft-maligned bank bailouts have been paid back and are now producing business profits that are beginning to increase the country’s GDP.
  • Instituted new consumer protections and banned banks and credit card companies from utilizing predatory lending and credit practices. Also streamlined the federal student loan process to save $87 billion over the next 10 years. Unveiled a new plan to ease the burden of student loans for borrowers.
  • Expanded the SCHIP program to cover healthcare for 4 million more children and reformed healthcare so that 32 million additional Americans will receive healthcare coverage. The legislation also prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals or family members with pre-existing health conditions and prevents lifetime limits on benefits.
  • Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women (the Lilly Ledbetter Bill) and appointed two women –– Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina justice –– to the Supreme Court.
  • Signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation that includes acts of violence against gays under the list of federal hate crimes. Brought an end to the military’s horrid “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
  • Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office, helping to restore America’s badly damaged image abroad.
  • Ended the Bush-era policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date.
  • Ended the blackout imposed on media coverage of the return of fallen US soldiers and war casualties. Ordered better body armor to be procured for US troops and funded new Mine Resistant Ambush Vehicles, making troops less vulnerable to roadside explosives.
  • Ordered that conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other neglected military hospitals be improved. Authorized construction of additional health centers to care for veterans.
  • Ended the Bush-era policy allowing “enhanced interrogation” bringing the U.S. back in compliance with Geneva Convention standards and closed the secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe.
  • Restarted international nuclear non-proliferation talks and reestablished international nuclear inspection protocols. Signed a nuclear limitation treaty with Russia.
  • Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, Muammar Ghadafi. Need I say more?

Joe Vajgrt is a senior journalism major who obviously drank the Kool-Aid. His column usually appears on Mondays in the Collegian. Feedback can be sent to letters@Collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:02 pm

Young voters part of herd mentality of apathy in marijuana ban election

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Oct 312011
 
Authors:

In 2008, then-Sen. Obama’s campaign mastered the use of emerging social media and the Internet to accomplish a feat previously believed impossible; motivating the young voters to not only show up on election day, but to vote for his consistent record of nihilism.

How far we’ve come. An estimated 51 percent of eligible voters age 18 to 29 voted in that election and 66 percent of those voted Democrat. Truth be told, the Democrats could have nominated Elvis and McCain still would have found a way to lose.

Choosing between one candidate nearly as dedicated to preserving the Constitution as a starving tiger is to preserving a goat and a candidate with no discernible record of achievement outside of education and campaigning, similarly dedicated to the Constitution? In the words of the anti-hero Lone Star, “Barf.”

The record young voter turnout in 2008 plummeted to 24 percent in 2010. I like to think the young voter took only two years to realize they’d elected yet another total sellout, but in reality, the scourge of the youngest generation of American adults, apathy, once again reared its ugly head.

Those statistics don’t receive nearly the level of scrutiny as mid-term and general election years as the issues are limited to state and local issues. Take this year for instance: The voter turnout for Fort Collins’ new ban on medical marijuana dispensaries likely will support the ban.

Why is voter turnout so low in off years? I’d love to attribute it to a logical reason, such as Fuzzy’s Taco Shop’s Trivia Tuesday or dollar Tacos or double stamp Tuesday at the Golden Spoon; unfortunately, the young voter is manipulated by media and the pressure to get out and vote is greatest on general election years.

The younger the sheep, the easier they succumb to the herd mentality. Somehow, the rebellious attitude of the earliest generations of Americans has succumbed to ennui and indifference when left without guidance. Not competent guidance, mind you. Oh no, an ignorant sheep isn’t much better than a lemming.

For instance, how has it not occurred to a supposedly free people, the tremendous conflict of interest that exists in allowing unionized teachers –– who nearly universally support a political party whose very nature is predicated upon believing government is infallible –– to fill the minds of their children?

The mind reels at the absurdity of our situation. Today, because of young voter lethargy, the city’s older voters are moving to ban medical marijuana dispensaries from city limits entirely supported by the unsubstantiated and highly questionable claim that marijuana crime in the city increased after MMJ came to town.

Give me a break. These are the same people who support housing ordinances intended entirely to restrict the presence of college students. In the words of sitting Mayor pro tem Kelly Ohlson, “Their [Colorado State University students] presence is a problem.”

If you want a lesson in political execution, Fort Collins provides one every other year. If a hot button issue is going to come up on the ballot, you can bet it won’t be in 2012 when the students may be motivated to actually set aside their pursuit of wine, women and song. Er, to be politically correct: spirits, sex and sounds.

It’s quite amazing how well the dumbing down of the American population has played into the hands of the political class with whom we’re so angry. The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements started with nearly identical grievances against the federal government.

Yet the first was co-opted by disenfranchised conservatives who almost immediately upon the general election of 2008 abandoned their cause for the familiar and fertile pastures of god, guns and gays. But OWS was immediately distracted into thinking the banks and Wall St. are somehow ethically or morally bound to cease bribing the legislative and executive federal politicians to rewrite the rules in their favor.

A college population with nearly unquestionable widespread firsthand knowledge of the effects of marijuana would allow idiotic legislation to go through when they have the numbers to suppress the tide, simply because it’s inconvenient to show up one day a year?

We’re completely without hope. Never you mind the thoughts of change. If you don’t vote in the local election today, if you didn’t research the issues before voting and if you don’t seek out information prior to next year’s primaries and general election, you’re part of the problem.

Ted Nugent? Yep, he was right. Though never a more accurate pseudonym was penned than his, The Motor City Madman recognizes a Stranglehold when he sees one.

Seth J. Stern thinks taxing marijuana is more beneficial than prohibition. His pragmatism usually appears Mondays in the Collegian. He can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:56 pm

Community Briefs 11/01/11

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Oct 312011
 
Authors: Collegian Staff Report

Basketball starts season with exhibition game

The CSU men’s basketball team starts off their season with a home game tonight at 7 p.m. The Ram’s will be facing CSU-Pueblo in an exhibition game.

CSU holds a 5-0 record against the CSU-Pueblo Timberwolves in regular season play.

Pueblo, who plays in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, finished last season with an 11-18 record. CSU finished last season 19-13.

The game is free to all students and $12 to the public.

November is Native American Heritage Month

In association with Native American Heritage Month, CSU’s Native American Cultural Center has organized events spanning the month of November in partnership with other groups on campus.

The Native American Cultural Center aims to increase knowledge on campus about Native American culture, history and customs.

The month kicks off with the event Native HIV/AIDS Update & National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Social Media at noon in The Lory Student Center, Room 203. Followed by Erotics of Colonialism: Reinventing Pocahontas as Avatar at 5 p.m. in the Virginia Dale Room in the LSC.

ASAP brings Harry Potter to campus

Tonight ASAP will be showing parts one and two of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” as part of their Blockbuster Blast event.

Both movies will be shown back to back with part 1 at 5 p.m. and part 2 at 7 p.m.

The event will be held in the North Ballroom of the LSC. The price to attend is $2 for a single movie and $4 for both.

Paige named Mountain West Player of the Week

Breion Paige, a junior middle blocker for the Rams, was awarded, for the first time, as Mountain West Player of the Week.

Paige ended the week with an average of 2.83 kills per set, through a total of 17 kills with no errors in two games against San Diego State and UNLV this week.

CSU has received this award four times in 10 weeks.

The volleyball team’s next game will be held Friday at 7 p.m. in Moby Arena.

 Posted by at 3:50 pm

Students for Obama next target for campaign coverage

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Oct 312011
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Amidst slouching approval ratings among youth, President Obama’s reelection campaign rolled out Monday an initiative around engaging young people in the political process and his efforts.

“As a campaign man, I know the worst thing we can do is take support for granted,” said Jim Messina, Obama’s national campaign manager in a national conference call with student reporters.

“That’s why we’re kicking off (the initiative) so early and pushing it so hard.

The initiative, called “Greater Together,” is an arm of the president’s reelection efforts and is the entity that all Students for Obama groups report to. Students will be participating in wider canvassing and voter registration events across Fort Collins as part of the program’s first push on Wednesday, Nov. 2.

“The whole reason we created a student organization through (the CSU Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement office) is because of Greater Together,” said Terran Hause, a CSU freshman political science and economics double major who heads Obama’s reelection efforts on campus.

Greater Together’s unveiling has taken place as young people increasingly disapprove of the president’s performance in office. In 2008, voters between 18 and 29 overwhelmingly supported Obama, voting for him over John McCain by a 2-1 ratio. Now, only 45 percent of youth approve of the president.

Nationally, tuition has increased by 35 percent during the past five years according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers group. Student loan debt totaled $1 trillion and the job market remains stagnant. The Institute for Financial Literacy recently reported that there has been a rise in the amount of bachelor’s degree holders filing for bankruptcy over recent years, up 21 percent from 2006.

Through their new initiative, Obama campaign staffers aim to make sure that the years of financial hardship endured by students during his presidency doesn’t translate into votes for Republicans.

Young voters might also elect to not vote for anyone in the 2012 presidential race. In 2008, turnout among youth was 51 percent, the third highest since 1972.

Hause, president of CSU’s Students for Obama, is not daunted by the prospect that students won’t go to the ballot box in the upcoming election.

“I think that you’re going to have the same turnout, if not even more,” he said. “I think it’s becoming more apparent to people that all these issues are important.”

Campaign Manager Messina agrees.

“What we’re seeing on the ground is more involvement than in ‘08, not less,” he said. “Eight million registered voters 18 to 21 who can vote this time, couldn’t vote last time.”

CSU’s College Republicans did not comment on the issue.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Interested in CSU’s Students for Obama? Attend their meeting.
5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, Lory Student Center, Room 211E

Interested in CSU’s College Republicans? Attend their
meeting.
7:00 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at C.B. & Potts

 Posted by at 3:46 pm

Vote to approve CSU student government budget seeks to increase transparency

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Oct 312011
 
Authors: Jason Pohl

A new measure coming before student government Wednesday will attempt to limit the direct power of the Associated Students of CSU’s executive branch when it comes to budgetary matters.

If passed, Bill 4110 would require the ASCSU president to get senate approval before making any budget adjustments. The first reading will be Wednesday, and it will be discussed for the upcoming three senate sessions.

Authors of the new bill say it will fix what they see as an “incomplete” process between branches of the student government.

“I think that students should have a say in how ASCSU spends its student fees,” said Jack Harries, an author of the bill. “Senators represent the student voice on campus, and we think it is important that that voice is heard when it comes to budget adjustments.”

As it currently stands, the president can make any budgetary adjustments deemed necessary without the expressed approval of senate.

Harries explained the bill was not made because of wrongdoing by the executive branch. Instead, he said it is a necessary measure in promoting strong relationships between branches of the government.

ASCSU President Eric Berlinberg echoed Harries’ statements regarding transparency and cooperation between branches –– something he has advocated since elected in April.

But he recognized an urgent time factor in determining the budgets in the spring.

Under the current system, the administration is voted into office the first Wednesday in April. From there, they only have five days to complete their budget, which explains how student fees will be used for services including RamRide and the annual Grill the Buffs program on the plaza.

The Student Fee Review Board, Student Funding Board and the ASCSU Senate must then approve the budget.

“There simply is not enough time to create an exact budget with the information available at that time,” Berlinberg said. “Changes happen quickly and are typically minimal.”

Berlinberg said new initiatives and programs requiring funds come up throughout the year as ASCSU works to accommodate the students’ needs.

These changes are at the heart of the issue raised by the members of the Senate, and authors of the bill maintain it is fair and representative of the students, who the government ultimately serves.
“We think that this bill gives the president enough flexibility,” Harries said.

Allison McVey, a senator and sponsor of the bill, said those serving in Senate take their job very seriously and recognize a need for accountability and a say in the budgeting process.

She said this is especially important because, as it stands now, there is nothing in the ASCSU constitution that explicitly explains the process the president must follow when transferring funds across departments.

“Senate is the voice that communicates what students want their fees to pay for,” said Allison McVey, a senator and sponsor of the bill. “When reallocation of funds occurs, students need to have a voice in where their money is being spent.”

Berlinberg recognized the concerns of the senators, and he said that he supports the measures as a step toward better communication and shared governance –– another platform he has advocated since the election last spring.

“I firmly believe in fiscal transparency and intend to continue to find additional ways to involve Senate in finances while simultaneously protecting the concept of separation of powers,” Berlinberg said.

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:34 pm