The candidates for Associated Students of CSU president and vice president focused on their platforms regarding student fees and tuition increases in a formal debate Wednesday night.
All four campaigns said they do not intend to raise student fees if elected.
â€œWeâ€™re facing a 20 percent tuition hike, and freezing student fees is absolutely number one,â€ presidential candidate Chase Eckerdt said.
The campaigns addressed these issues and more at the debate in the Lory Student Center Theatre. Around 50 people attended the debate.
Beau Loendorf said the budget he and running mate Kevin Winn have drafted is very stable with the amount of funding they give out, as well as take in. If they were to raise student fees, they said, it would have to be by a student initiative.
Mike Montgomery agreed, saying he and Tim Brogdon can guarantee there will be no higher fees unless an increase is initiated by students and passed through the Student Fee Review Board.
Eric Berlinberg, the vice chair of SFRB, said not raising student fees is a priority, but he and his running-mate Rachel Roberson understand the realities of the situation.
â€œIf itâ€™s a student initiative, we will look at that and see if it is really going to be something that inflicts positive change on campus,â€ he said.
During the question and answer session with students, a few asked Eckerdt and running mate Justin Safady if they would refuse to raise student fees even if the SFRB approved an initiative, particularly if the sustainability department asked for an increase in fees.
Eckerdt said if they were to get elected with their No. 1 platform being that they will not raise student fees, it would be a clear sign of what the students are feeling, and he hopes SFRB would take that into account.
â€œWeâ€™re not going to make exceptions to one group,â€ he said. â€œAs students, weâ€™re all making sacrifices.â€
The candidates also discussed the issue of budget cuts for higher education.
Brogdon said he and Montgomery have spoken to senators about increasing taxes, such as property taxes, to create a new stem of revenue for higher education.
â€œRaising tuition is not the only answer,â€ Brogdon said.
Berlinberg said accountability needs to increase for departments at CSU that receive tuition dollars.
â€œWe need to ensure theyâ€™re spending money efficiently and effectively throughout the year,â€ he sad.
Safady said working as an assistant director of Legislative Affairs has helped him grasp what needs to happen at the state level to find solutions to this issue.
He and Eckerdt plan to work with state legislators by looking at bills and reforming amendments, such as Amendment 23, which states per-pupil funding is required to keep pace with the rate of inflation.
â€œHigher education is the easiest place for legislators to cut,â€ he said. â€œWe need to look at a lot of different avenues, and until we do that, our tuition will continue to go up.â€
Winn said the fight for higher education is what drives his passion.
He said he and Loendorf have met with Sen. Brandon Shaffer, who they said told them students need to show legislators how Colorado is going to gain from their educations.
â€œWe have to show them what they have to lose,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re going to do that.â€
Students can vote for the next ASCSU president and vice president April 4, 5 and 6 on RamWeb.
ASCSU Beat Reporter Courtney Riley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.