Proposal meets mixed reactions from community
Mark Olofson has high aspirations for improving the relationship between CU and the city of Boulder.
Olofson, a first year graduate student in the School of Education, proposed a plan to slightly raise student fees in order to cover the operating costs of the Hop for the entire Boulder community during the UCSU Legislative Council meeting on Jan. 24.
“It’s a great way for university students to give back to the people that actually do the work in our community,” Olofson said.
The idea for free city-wide Hop service originally occurred to him when he noticed that the fare for the bus was going up, Olofson said. Living on the Hop bus route and taking it every day, he noticed the number of Boulder citizens affected by the fare increase, many of whom rely on the bus to get to work.
Olofson says raising student fees by as little as .3 percent would be enough to cover the approximately $60,000 in revenue the city receives from the Hop, lending a service to those who work within the Boulder community.
Olofson will need to appeal to UCSU before any changes in student fees are made.
UCSU Environmental Director Amy Harris, a senior environmental policy major, was at the Legislative Council meeting when Olofson submitted his proposal.
Though she says he “gave a compelling argument,” she goes on to say there are a lot of things that still need to be worked out.
According to Harris, it is difficult to use student fees for anything that is not related to the students. The raise of student fees for something like covering bus fees for the Boulder community would be considered a donation. The use of student fees will be a major deciding factor when UCSU considers the proposal.
“It sounds like a good idea, but there are a lot of complex issues around it that he’s going to have to work through,” Harris said.
Junior management major and UCSU Tri-executive Charles Gilford says the proposal is a “nice gesture for CU-Boulder to extend a free service to the community” in theory.
“It’s done with a good heart, but I don’t think that it’s the proper bridge to build in order to connect the institution with the community,” Gilford said.
Aside from gaining UCSU’s approval, Olofson will also have to determine whether RTD and the city of Boulder will accept his proposal.
The Hop is merely a partner with CU, and the university does not have the final say in its operation.
“We’d have to see if the revenue from the fees would cover the cost of actually running the service,” RTD spokeswoman Daria Serna said. “Fees pay for only a portion of running the service.”
At the moment, Olofson is busy finding out what legislation would look like for the proposal. He is working to gain support from people like College of Education Senator Joshua Childs, a first year graduate student studying education.
Some students on campus said they are willing to support Olofson’s proposal.
Sophomore international affairs major Sarah Sawatzky said it would depend on how high the student fees would actually be raised, but that she thinks the plan is a good idea overall.
“It’s important for the school to stay involved with the Boulder community,” she said.
Others said the price of college is already too high and the addition of another fee would simply contribute to the already steep tuition costs.
“Why is it the students’ responsibility to make public transportation free?” said Amy Gurrentz, a senior spanish and art major.
Despite the opposition, Olofson said he is determined and believes in what he’s trying to accomplish.
“It’s something worth working for and something people can get behind,” he said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Kaely Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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