Mar 112004
 
Authors: Chris Kampfe

Drastic budget cuts and tuition increases may take effect for

the upcoming fall semester at CSU.

In the midst of recent budget cut proposals, like the College

Opportunity Fund, enterprise status and the academic bill of rights

and other bills, students at CSU may be seeing changes in campus

life in the fall.

With the danger of these reforms looming over the state, some

students and professors are concerned that the general student body

is not aware of the state’s current condition and should be more

active.

Currently, John Straayer, a professor of political science, has

24 juniors and seniors working as interns with the state

legislature, and he takes students to the state Capitol every

Tuesday and Thursday. Straayer said although he could not speak for

the entire campus, he felt students enrolled in courses he teaches

actively follow legislature.

Robert Lawrence, a political science professor, said he tries to

incorporate current political issues in his class as much as

possible. Lawrence believes it is important for students to be

knowledgeable about current issues and to keep them interested in

the subject matter.

Citing an excerpt from the First Amendment of the U.S.

Constitution regarding peaceful assembly and petitioning the

government for redress of grievance, Lawrence said it is important

for people to be active in government.

“In a democratic society we expect people to lobby their

legislature,” he said.

Lawrence believes that it is important to finance higher

education to provide for the country’s prosperity. Cutting funding

to education is an undercutting of national security, Lawrence

said.

“A less-educated society is less competitive in the global

community and is less likely to remain a military or economic

superpower” Lawrence said. “(Students) need to go to their parents

and the legislature and say, ‘Look, we’re the future.'”

Two main outlets for students to become knowledgeable and get

involved in politics are through the CSU Young Democrats and the

CSU College Republicans student organizations.

The Young Democrats set up a stand Wednesday on the Lory Student

Center Plaza to sign students up for the organization and to

register students to vote.

“We want to increase voter registration, which is why we’re out

here today,” said Josh Metten, vice president of the Young

Democrats. “We want more young people to vote and make educated

decisions about their lives.”

T he Young Democrats are reorganizing their affairs right now,

according to Metten but concluded by saying, “After Spring Break

you will definitely be seeing more activity from us.”

Promoting the students’ academic bill of rights as well as

creating the “Campus Insanity Project,” which attempts to clean up

graffiti and “liberal propaganda,” have been the main focuses of

the CSU College Republicans this year, said Robert Lee, vice

chairman for the College Republicans of Colorado.

To create a better-informed campus, Lee proposes that the

Associated Students of CSU hand out fliers on the Plaza when

important issues related to higher education arise and that the

information is easy to comprehend.

“ASCSU should be more dedicated to providing digestible

information to the student body as a whole, and not just through

their Web site,” Lee said. “People have at least four or five

things to take care of a day; they just don’t have time to sit and

read a legislative analysis.”

Lee feels that there are organizations on campus to educate

students, but it is the student government’s duty to proactively

provide students with information about state issues.

“The best way to get involved initially is to find a group that

focuses on the university before the state,” Lee said.

ASCSU President Jesse Lauchner said ASCSU is always working to

inform students of issues that concern them, but it has not been

quite as successful as it would like.

“We’re working on measures to blanket the campus with

information,” Lauchner said. “We’ve had a lot of hit-and-miss

experiences with how to inform the student body, but we’re always

open to ideas.”

ASCSU contracts a lobbyist to provide a voice for CSU students

at the Capitol and sends some of its members to the Capitol at

least twice a week to monitor legislative activity.

“We’ve tried lots of different avenues of marketing to get the

word out about things like CSU Day at the Capitol,” said Katie

Clausen, ASCSU’s vice president. ” But I’d still like to see more

(involvement).”

In a special session called by the ASCSU Senate in February, the

decision whether to support the House Bill 1315, the academic bill

of rights, was discussed with an opportunity for the public to

address the senators.

“We addressed legislature on 1315 and got a lot of feedback from

students through formal channels,” Clausen said. “We got a strong

response from (the ASCSU Senate) gallery.”

Complications from such bills the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and

Amendment 23 are frequently being referred to as the cause of the

current financial crisis in Colorado’s higher education, and voters

will be asked to make some critical decisions in November. Lawrence

feels it is necessary for communities to assess their values when

voting for different bills and tax restrictions.

“Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes had a quote, ‘With taxes

you buy civilization,'” Lawrence said. “If you want a high-class

society you have to pay for it.”

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