Feb 272011
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

Fort Collins just became the fourth biggest city in Colorado, and CSU enrollment is up to record levels again. It’s hard to get the notion of this as prosperity when all it means to most students is that the buses to school will be packed so tightly that we may finally put our “Tetris” skills to use fitting everyone in.

Increased traffic and the mounting absurdity of three-unrelated aside, there are things to look forward to as the city grows more and more crowded. As the only optimist left in the news industry, I’m here to help you look on the bright side –– because you can’t spell badly overloaded without loaded!

Let’s start with that which is closest to all of us: our beloved university. Times have been financially tough for us ever since we spent the past decade determinedly not voting in record numbers, which somehow led to a cut in funding. We’ve been getting a series of e-mails from CSU President Tony Frank that have been calm and informative, all things considered.
A bit too calm, if you ask me. Part of me suspects he’s that one guy in recent horror movie trends that pretends to be the main character for a bit, spouting one-liners and carrying a gun the size of his stage presence, before being devoured by space roaches. Or, in this metaphor, fired to save money.
Record enrollment could change all that, but only if we’re clever about it. We’re raising tuition, of course, but why not follow the grand tradition of credit card companies and have locked-in rates? Those of us currently in school pay one set of tuition, and the newbies could pay a second substantially higher rate of tuition.

It’s the perfect plan because it’s something we can vote on now and it won’t affect any of us negatively.

Instead, the consequences will be passed to the youth of tomorrow, who will have to bear the burden of our poor planning and sloth. You know, like our plan with the economy. And the environment. And foreign relations. And space exploration. I guess what I’m saying is it’s time tested.
Growth in our university isn’t the only thing we can look forward to –– the city, as it turns out, is comprised of more than roads leading to CSU, parking lots adjacent to it, and liquor stores along the way. Some people live and work here even during the summer, and the city is getting bigger for them as well.

Fort Collins is actually well suited to being a big city. Our sensible road system is based on a simple intersecting grid. On the east coast, where I am from, the traffic did not handle the dense population. Instead of a grid, they chose the less popular ‘elder sign,’ which calls down gods of madness and rage, hence explaining all east coast traffic. So it could be worse.

No, roads are nicely covered. We mainly need some defining element of culture. Currently we are the “university by a brewery” town. This is fine for a smaller city, but if we’re going to grow up and be a real city we need to do what all adults do –– stuff we don’t like. We need nonsensical, pretentious flash-in-the-pan shows –– silent operas, one-man ballets, any modern art ever –– that sort of thing.

The community’s heart is still students, though. We just have to hit that right middleground between driving them all away and not squeezing them for enough money to keep ourselves afloat. Thank goodness Tony Frank has this one confidently covered.

Now I’m nervous. Someone check Tony Frank –– make sure the space roaches haven’t got him.

Johnathan Kastner is in his second year of his second bachelor’s degree, majoring in computer science. His column runs Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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