Feb 282011
Authors: Andrew Carrera

tudent government Legislative Affairs Director Matt Strauch asked Colorado’s No. 2 state official on Monday at what time CSU would stop hearing about 20 percent tuition increases in the foreseeable future.

“When will this trend ever stop?” Strauch asked Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, former president of CSU-Pueblo.

“When voters decide to increase general funding,” Garcia said.

Fort Collins and Pueblo CSU students alike were bussed to Denver on Monday to hear Garcia’s take on the circumstances of higher education in Colorado and push lawmakers for fewer budget cuts to the state’s public universities.

“We want to bring to the attention of our representatives and senators that students at CSU are facing a 20 percent increase next year in tuition,” said Justin Safady, the Associated Students of CSU assistant director of Legislative Affairs, to the office staff of Rep. Tom Massey, R–District 60, who chairs the House Education Committee.

ASCSU’s Legislative Affairs Department organized CSU Student Advocacy Day, which brought 45 students to the capitol Monday at 7 a.m. to have a meet-and-greet with legislators.

The students observed theHouse and Senate floors before being debriefed by Garcia on a higher education system he says will see enormous cuts and equally large tuition hikes.

“The fact of the matter is, when I went to school, the state paid a greater proportion of the costs.”

Garcia said. “Boy, this all sounds depressing doesn’t it?”

ASCSU President Cooper Anderson said one of student government’s main event functions was to maintain a strong presence in the state capitol.

“I think it’s been great going around talking to the representatives and the senators,” Anderson said. “It’s just very encouraging to hear what they have to say.”

CSU students later broke into self-organized groups of varying sizes led by eight ASCSU Legislative Affairs staffers –– some heading 20 strong packs and others more intimate three-member collections –– charged with visiting about 13 legislators each.

“We just wanted to raise some awareness,” added Chase Eckerdt, ASCSU director of Community Affairs. “We’re hoping that throughout this process we could get some representation.”

Higher education is cut by legislators who don’t understand the specifics of universities, like CSU’s, budget, Safady said.

“And even if they do look at the specifics of it, higher education is one of the only areas they can cut because so much of the state budget is constitutionally protected by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR),” Eckerdt said. “So we have to come down here and make them aware of how critical it is to make higher education a priority.”

For other CSU students, Advocacy Day was an opportunity to advance future careers in government. Politically minded students, Strauch said, were the ones comprising Advocacy Day’s participants.

“I’m just trying to meet all the heads of state and find out who runs the government we all live under … Eventually I’m thinking about going into something related to politics, I’m not quite sure what,” said undeclared sophomore Aidan Levy. “It’s always good to have connections. It’s interesting to see how the government works.”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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