Apr 242003
 
Authors: Rod Rodriguez

While the war on Iraq seems to be winding down, here, at home, the war on education is just beginning.

Budget cut after budget cut after budget cut, Bill Owens, the “education governor,” and Mr. Bush, who is “committed to the education of America’s children,” have snipped, cut, and sliced away at America’s education budget leaving, not only our schools, but our children, you and I, and the rest of America, bankrupt.

Not only is financial aid being cut, which is devastating to thousands of students on this campus alone, but basic services are being cut and tuition is rising again. We are going to be paying more money for fewer services, larger class sizes, and less faculty availability.

I keep expecting the tax-cut fairies to stop by my house and deliver me the thing that has been promised time and time again: more money! Apparently, the tax cuts which benefit us all, not just the rich according to some, did arrive, I just didn’t notice. Sometime in my nightly slumber I was graced with a whopping… $21. Thanks, Mr. Bush.

Remember those nice sales-tax refund checks we used to get? Or how about when budget cuts weren’t forcing some of my favorite instructors to be let go from their jobs? When Undergraduate Student Retention could focus on retaining undergraduate students instead of trying to figure out whether they’re going to have to advise students next fall? Those were the good times.

So why is it important that financial aid be funded or our universities receive the money needed? Tuition money aside, there are good reasons.

As a land-grant institution, it is the job of this university to provide a service to all students across Colorado; that is why we are here. With continuing budget cuts and a reduction in services and staff, this university can not live up to its promise.

The student experience is a unique experience. Once a student enters the university, his or world will not, cannot, be the same. Once he or she leaves, his or her broadened views and the knowledge gained will, not only serve the university, but his or her surrounding community. They will give back both to the university and to their respective community, not financially, but in the intangibles they bring to where they live.

Students are a necessity for the city of Fort Collins. When students go away, the housing market plummets, vacancy rates skyrocket, local businesses lose money. Have we forgotten that the university makes up one-fifth of Fort Collins’ population?

When the university stops taking MasterCard and Visa, some students, who pay their tuition by plastic and then pay that off during the semester, can no longer rely on that form of payment and cannot find another way to pay tuition. They are then forced to quit or transfer, a situation I personally know is happening to a few people I know.

We lose great minds, we lose great faculty, it becomes harder to recruit good minds and great faculty, and we lose ground in national rankings despite years of work by our wonderful Dr. Yates. And what could be worse than, after four years of enjoying the spotlight, having to admit, once again, that the University of Colorado is the better school of choice in Colorado.

Not everyone gets scholarships and loans; not everyone can live off of $7.50 an hour. There are ways around the budget cuts; there are ways around the difficult situations we face before us. Unfortunately, those ways are either a regime change (my new favorite set of words), or losing more students to one of the other schools just down US287.

To steal from a speech delivered by our very own President Yates, “There is a proverb from New Guinea that says, ‘Knowledge is like a garden: If it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.'”

Now is the time to take our hands out of the pockets of big corporations and start investing in us and in our future. If this is not done, students at this university and across the state are not only going to stop enrolling, they are not going to be able to afford to pay maximum tuition for minimal services.

It’s a darn good thing they have that extra $21 to help them out.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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