Apr 162007
Authors: Daniel GibsonReinemer

When President Penley tried to secure additional funds for CSU’s woefully underfunded academic programs, the Collegian was quick to attack him.

But when Kyle Bell appeared with Athletics Director Paul Kowalczyk to tell the Student Fee Review Board the Athletics Department needed to increase fees 22 percent next year, the Collegian eagerly supported the proposal.

In the same issue of the Collegian containing the information above, three former presidents and a former vice president of the Associated Students of CSU voiced their support for athletic funding in a letter to the editor.

Students were presented with a unified voice advocating for an increase in higher education cost because our sports teams stood to benefit. This view is correct – if we expect our athletic teams to do well, we ought to provide them the funds they need.

So why is it so hard to present such a unified voice on securing funding for CSU, a matter of far greater importance? The cynical answer, but one that seems to be supported by our own responses, is we simply don’t care as much about ensuring we receive a high quality education as we care about spending as little money as possible and being entertained.

“Give us bread and circuses!” we clamor, borrowing a phrase from ancient Rome.

In a satire over eighteen hundred years old, the playwright Juvenal lashed out at the citizens of Rome. He admonished them for caring only for their immediate interests, a full stomach and entertainment.

Other than proving the continued relevance of studying classical history, Juvenal’s words should serve as a reminder to us while we consider what costs we are willing to bear at CSU.

It’s true increasing student fees to fund athletics may provide additional revenue for the university years down the line, but increasing tuition to support academics benefits students for the rest of their careers. Attending CSU was a choice we made based on the quality of the education we receive here, and the quality of our education suffers when we fail to give CSU adequate financial support.

The cheap price of an education at CSU is another major factor in many students’ choices, but certainly not the most important one. If cost were the most important factor to us, we all would have chosen to attend one of the less expensive institutions in the state. However important money may be in our short-term considerations, we must realize we made the choice to put quality above cost when we chose to attend CSU.

We came to CSU for its excellence, which translates into greater success for us as graduates in the job market. Funding our academic programs adequately is the mechanism ensuring we can capitalize on our investment in higher education. Funding the athletics department confers benefits on our sports teams but does absolutely nothing for us in the job market.

The Collegian should recognize the immense difference between asking students to fund their futures and asking students to fund our school’s games. President Penley’s interest in our shared future should have received even greater support than Kyle Bell’s interest in entertaining us.

Of course, the athletics folks came and paid lip service to the Student Fee Review Board, while the student body may have felt left out of President Penley’s tuition measure. Feeling included makes a difference in how we respond to such matters, a point made clear over the past few weeks.

However, the student body does not have the power to dictate tuition costs – a fact for which I am continually grateful. If we were in charge, all indications from the past weeks suggest we would simply pay the smallest amount possible and mortgage our futures.

Even with the proposed price increase, the cost of an education at CSU remains a bargain. We will still have cheap tuition no matter what, but our degrees will be worth much less if we do not fund our academics properly.

Remember, the state supports our school and gets to decide how we are funded.

The state legislature is currently deciding whether or not to increase funds for CSU, and all we seem to care about is saving a buck and being entertained. Let’s instead use our voices to show we understand what is on the line and are smart enough to deserve their support.

Daniel Gibson-Reinemer is a fishery and wildlife biology masters student. His column appears every Tuesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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