May 062004
 
Authors: Christopher J. Ortiz

It seems everything costs more at the University of Colorado. In

efforts to help fund for future capital construction, the student

government council approved nearly doubling students’ fees,

according to the Denver Post.

The state legislature cannot afford to supersize a fast-food

meal, let alone funding for future building projects, which leaves

schools to find funds elsewhere. And with no sign of the state’s

wallet getting any fatter, it seems student fees are going to be

the take a penny tray (not to be confused with the Jerry’s Kids

jar) when it comes to universities hunting much-needed dollars.

Historically, the state legislature funded capital construction

at public universities. but historically the state had money to pay

its bills, so now schools like CU and CSU are left in a bind.

Schools are restricted in the amount they can raise tuition

because of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, so either universities

halt present construction plans or they look for other avenues of

raising funds – such as student fees.

The situation at CU is the administration recognized it didn’t

have the funds to pay for an expense – future building projects in

this case – so it turned to the student government to implement and

approve a new student fee.

I can almost recall an incident at CSU where the administration

pulled the student government’s arm to create a new student fee to

fund something it couldn’t afford … what was it, it’s on the tip

of my tongue – that’s right, the new university technology fee.

Shady was how student legislative council President Laura

Reinsch described to the Post the school’s administrators, who

lobbied the increase to the student government.

“The administration fast-tracked this at a time students are

studying for finals,” said CU Regent Cindy Carlisle to the Post.

“…I have a problem with 18 people making a decision of this

magnitude for the whole student body for years to come.”

Cunning devils, surely the trustworthy administration at CSU

wouldn’t pull a stunt like that, or would they?

Students might remember last year when the CSU administration

and the Student Fee Review Board slipped in the university

technology fee when no one was looking: at the end of the year when

students’ attention was focused on other matters, such as staying

afloat of all the projects, assignments and term papers.

Is it fair for the administration to use student fees as its

ATM, using fees when it needs funds for services, programs and

facilities that it no longer can provide? No, but as Associated

Students of CSU President-elect Katie Clausen said, it’s not fair

to students to have sub-par services, programs or facilities. CU’s

law school faced losing its accreditation if it didn’t upgrade the

law school buildings. Which is less fair – having students pay more

for items the state or administration paid for in the past or have

CU lose its law school, leaving aspiring lawyers looking for a new

school? CSU’s new residence hall is being funded by self-generated

money from the residence-hall system.

It’s a value question students have to ask themselves, Clausen

said.

“General capital construction, with economy the way it is now,

funding has to come through private donations and student dollars –

if students value that, then they need to buckle up the dollars,”

Clausen said.

She said it’s not like universities are laying down marble

floors … they are doing to bare minimum to keep buildings

safe.

The Board of Governors of the CSU System met Wednesday to

discuss creating yet another new student fee, a facility fee.

Clausen said the fee is in the discussion phase, but unless the

budget situation smoothes out a bit, this fee could well become

reality.

I don’t have a solution. I want to go to the CSU that I saw in

brochures and not the school with broken chairs that I see in

classrooms, but I don’t want the administration to play the

“we-don’t-have-any-money-so-we-need-to-add-student-fees” card every

time.

It’s a struggle between the value of our money and the value of

our education. I wish I had a better ending for this column, but

I’m in a rush to sell back my textbooks.

Chris is a senior majoring in history and journalism. He wishes

everyone good luck during finals week. He will be at home watching

“Wings” reruns since he was fortunate enough not to have

finals.

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