Mar 052012
Authors: Allison Sylte

I can’t help but think that CSU forgets I’m a paying customer.

After all, as an in-state undergraduate student, I pay more than $8,000 a year to the university in tuition and fees.

Heck, according to the financial planning spreadsheet on RAMweb, I pay more than $1,000 for my CO 300 class alone –– a class that I am obligated to take despite a course-load full of writing classes.

And despite the fact the more than 20 other students in the class are also paying at least $1,000 to be there, our classroom doesn’t even have a working clock.

Over my college career, I’ve paid thousands of dollars for classes taught by graduate students rather than professors, even though professor-taught classes would have cost me the same amount.

If I drove to school, I’d be expected to pay almost $200 to park at the very university I already fork over more than $8,000 to attend.

If I lose my RamCard, which entitles me to the services I pay a little less than $2,000 in student fees a year to receive, I owe the school $25.

I’ve never taken a business class, but through years of soul-sucking retail jobs, I have learned one thing: A business is entirely beholden to the satisfaction of its customers.

And while CSU is a non-profit entity, rather than a traditional business, it nonetheless has more than 30,000 customers, not to mention many more alumni and donors. And,as a whole, I’d argue that its customers are not receiving a quality of services that match the price they pay.

After all, despite Colorado’s dismal funding stream for higher education, tuition hikes have supplemented a good deal of lost state funds for the university. Elsewhere, CSU has had to make do with spending cuts, mainly in the form of salaries and departmental budgets.

But I think a university that can afford to put on a private fireworks show, — in addition to a mystical winter wonderland for its donors (check out the pictures on Facebook) — can also afford to give me working clocks in my classrooms, or at least make the Eddy building smell better.

When it comes to paying for almost anything else, most customers would not stand for this type of treatment. Last year, almost 41 percent of Netflix users vowed to abandon the service after the company announced a $6.99 price increase.

In comparison, CSU’s enrollment actually increased on the heels of a more than $1,000 tuition increase for in-state students.

While it’s true that education is far more valuable than being able to live-stream “Grey’s Anatomy,” you’d think that some basic business principles — like offering good value and customer service — would still apply.

You’d think that, at some point, CSU’s students would rebel a little bit,and at least demand the caliber of services that they’re paying the big bucks for.

But on second thought, maybe CSU students are rebelling in a big way, just not in the way you might expect.

After all, only 5.7 percent of the hundreds of thousands of CSU alums out there give back to the university. A lot of those alums are doing just fine financially, and I’m assuming they are more than well-off enough to fork over $20 to their Alma Mater if they really wanted to.

I can’t speak for them, but in 10 years, when I’m making millions off of my journalism degree (note the sarcasm), I simply can’t see myself giving to CSU. After all, it’s not like any of the $500 million CSU has raised these past few years has gone to fixing the small things, like giving bored CO 300 students working clocks.

What am I getting at, then? Well, as CSU pushes to better its relationships with its donors,and work its hardest to persuade its current students to donate (see last year’s “27,677” propaganda display in the Lory Student Center Plaza), it should take a second and rethink its strategy to actually think about its paying customers.

Because while it may seem fine to push us around right now, a few years down the road, when we actually matter to you, we might still be remembering those bogus $25 RamCard charges and classrooms without clocks.

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte is a junior journalism major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at, or on Twitter @AllisonSylte.

 Posted by at 2:45 pm

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