May 022010
 
Authors: Justin Hegstad

Like many of you, I chose to attend CSU over the university in Boulder. What drove me to choose CSU, and Fort Collins, was a deep-rooted disdain for Boulder in all of its forms. Competing against Boulder teams in high school athletics as well as my travels to Boulder helped to form my belief that the city and its university are dominated by highbrow elitists.

Contrast that with CSU and Fort Collins. When I made my visit here, I felt it was a solid public institution, full of people from across the social spectrum. More importantly, I came to believe that CSU believed that a college degree should be attainable regardless of financial constraints.

Following last Wednesday’s ASCSU Senate session, I have come to doubt that belief. During that session, our student representatives debated whether to accept, amend or reject the new student fee increase.

This fee is a five dollar increase per credit hour intended to fund the construction of an expansion to the engineering building, on top of several other smaller increases for various other projects.

You may be saying to yourself, “Justin, five dollars per credit hour is not that much.” But that’d be missing the point.

Colorado and CSU are looking for new sources of funding for higher education. Our tax system won’t allow for a tax increase unless Colorado’s voter approves it via referendum.

Personally, I don’t believe that the donor reservoir has been properly tapped, since we have many buildings on this campus that have yet to be named after their generous donors, but the ASCSU Senate seems to find this avenue futile.

If those two avenues are supposedly closed, then students are all that is left. The state is crafting a tuition overhaul that would likely remove the current nine percent tuition increase cap, allowing for massive tuition increases.

The last time that this happened, between 1981 and 1984, tuition increased by 87 percent. On top of this, our student representatives have chosen to reach into our pockets with the fee increase.

The important aspect overlooked by the majority of our student representatives is what message this fee increase sends to CSU and Colorado.

By approving the fee increase, we’ve said that we’re willing to fill the funding gap with our own dollars. It is only five dollars per credit hour now, but when will it stop? Have our elected officials ever shown a willingness to abandon a funding stream once it has been established?

Those ASCSU Senators who supported this fee increase likened the rejection of the increase to playing chicken with Colorado. They said the money simply isn’t there, which is presently true.

They said that the only way to play chicken is if you have something the other side values, otherwise, they’ll simply let us die.

But I don’t understand what’s more valuable to a population than education. Our student representatives needed to send the message that we students stand firmly behind CSU as a public institution, and firmly voice opposition to the privatization of our university.

Cooper Anderson and Jennifer Babos, our President and Vice President-elects, respectively, have talked repeatedly about confronting Colorado concerning the higher education funding crisis.

This was the first battle of that war, and the message they’ve sent is that they’re in support of increasing the out-of-pocket cost of our education, which will make a college degree out of reach for less fortunate citizens.

What leverage will they carry now that they’ve sent the message that we students are willing to shoulder the burden?
This goes far beyond the base desire of everyone to pay as little as possible for as much as possible. What is at stake here is the very identity of our institution.

During the debate in the Senate chambers, Liberal Arts Senator Jack Becker gave an impassioned speech in opposition to the fee increase, imploring the body to consider what he and I both believe should be CSU’s guiding principle: access and affordability.

This fee increase, however small, is simply the entering wedge into the door of privatization.

It’s a slippery slope, and by going down it, the majority of our elected representatives have made clear their desire to abandon the principle of being an institution for the people, and rather have chosen to move CSU closer to being an institution for some people.

If that’s how they think, then they should go to Boulder.

Justin Hegstad is a junior history major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 1:40 pm

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