CU students should look to themselves for savings

By Brad Jones, At a recent rally at the state capitol, CU tri-executive Jeremey Jimenez stumped in support of Referenda C and D. His message was an ominous one: scores of students, mostly the poor and minorities, would be unable to attend the state's flagship university if the ballot measures went down. "How many of you might not be able to come back to school?" he asked.

What Mr. Jimenez failed to mention is he and his two co-executives wield the power to control a full 11.5% of an in-state student's cost of attendance . In the 2005-06 school year, the University of Colorado Student Union will collect mandatory fees of $619.00 a year from each and every student on the Boulder campus – for a total well over $30 million.

Fees are increasingly becoming the new cash-cow for students and administrators eager to squeeze pennies out of students and parents increasingly sensitive to tuition increases. What value are students getting for their $619 a year? Some line items are more understandable than others: $162 for a recreation-center membership and $189 for upkeep of the student union building. Others would leave parents puzzled, that is if they had the time to pore through charts on the bursar's web site.

One example: CU policy requires all full-time students to carry health insurance , but every undergraduate in Boulder pays $126 to subsidize the health center, regardless of their use of the facility. That means all students – whether insured by CU's plan or covered by an HMO or their family doctor back in Montrose are kicking in 1 of every 3 dollars spent on student healthcare. When I was at CU, I was one of many students still carried by a parent's plan. My one health center transaction in three years at CU – $20 to fill a prescription – would cost $378 (in today's fees), even before I walked in the apothecary door.

Student-leader Jimenez didn't mention all this because he has a horse – nay, a stable – in the race. According to his campaign web site he is a member of no less than nine separate "diversity" organizations at CU, all propped up by mandatory fees. Don't expect him to demand reforms of fees for "Student Worker," the "Indegenous Support Network" or the "Boulder Rainforest Action Group."

Students can make school more affordable for themselves; they just need to get an early lesson in politics and resisting special interests. Who says CU doesn't teach real-life lessons?