Student voices need to be heard
CU is ranked the 79th overall university in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2008 ranking of America’s best colleges.
Admittedly, this figure is a rather hopeful number as is. Okay, so Colorado School of Mines beat us at 75th, but in the big picture the difference is slight.
Colorado State University lands at 124th, and Denver University, one of the state’s most prestigious private institutions, comes in at 85th. Sorry, DU. Better luck next year.
CU has some tough competition, seeing as the top 20 ranked national colleges are all privately funded universities that don’t have to scrabble for taxpayer’s dollars. In the big scheme of things, ranking 79th in a national survey that includes better-funded and privately funded universities is actually rather surprising.
It could be worse, but it could be better.
Just think how much higher that ranking could be if Colorado stepped up and forked over more dollars for its universities. If CU ranks 79th with limited funding, imagine how much better we would rank if our state actually supported us more.
A study conducted by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems found that Colorado higher education would need an additional $832 million just to reach the national average of state funding for universities.
Considering that Colorado colleges are holding their own fairly well without this $832 million, it is fair to say that our universities deserve a pat on the back. However, it is equally fair to say that we could be doing exponentially better if we were allotted that additional $832 million.
Is the state on the right track to reviving higher education?
We all thought that Referendum C would provide funding for our universities, but due to unforeseen statutory limitations, we were disappointed to see most of the money being funneled into transportation and K-12 education.
The recent talk about drilling on the Roan Plateau near Rifle suggests the creation of a permanent trust fund that would secure the future of higher education. This trust fund would be nice, but it forces us to choose between the environment and our education. At an eco-friendly university like CU, the choice can be difficult.
The recommendations of Governor Ritter’s newly created P-20 Council tend to focus more on K-12 education. Granted, the council plans to address reforms at the higher education level in the future, but that may be several years down the road, and thousand of current students at CU may have already graduated from a school that could have given them a better education.
So whose fault is it that our Colorado universities are not receiving adequate shares of state funds?
Is it the failing of legislators to develop and implement better funding schemes? Is it the failing of Colorado voters to rank higher education as a top priority in our state? Or does the blame rest with the university itself, for failing to cause a large enough ruckus that would force more money into education?
We have no further to look than to our fellow classmate sitting in the seat next to us.
The blame rests with you, and it rests with me. It is our fault. CU students, as a whole, are largely responsible for our university’s lack of funding.
Legislators will not push funding for higher education unless they know that we, as students, care a great deal about it. Colorado voters will not find themselves compelled to vote “yes” on issues that will give higher education a boost if they cannot see the personal impact that their vote will have on living, breathing students. The university is incapacitated when it attempts to push for legislative reforms and additional funding without having student input about how those coveted dollars actually impact our education.
And yet, I sense that we are all largely apathetic about the lack of funding for our school. We assume that someone higher up will fix our funding dilemma with one quick vote or with one quick signature on a bill. We do not feel responsible for supporting our own education.
When did we become so apathetic about the education we receive?
The reality is that we are all responsible. It is our duty as CU students to fight for our share of the money. If we do not actively participate in the dialogue and discussion surrounding our lack of funding, no changes will come.
It is time for us to step up to the plate and let our voices be heard.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Katherine Spencer at Katherine.firstname.lastname@example.org