CU Boulder hits the pause button after announcing plans to reduce student government budget

Posted at 6:02 PM, Apr 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-06 21:06:33-04

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BOULDER, Colo. -- It all started with this letter from CU Boulder's chancellor, Phil DiStefano.

"I found out Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. and my initial reaction was I was blindsided," said CU Student Government president of internal affairs, Troy Fossett.

The letter outlined changes to the university's student government model and took away 90 percent of their multi-million-dollar budget.

A major decision, which Fossett said, came with no input from students.

"I was very shocked. I was hurt that they didn't include students," he said.

Currently, CU student government manages a budget of around $23 million. Under the new plan, that number dropped to $1.9 million. Students would also lose oversight of the University Memorial Center and Rec Center.

"[A] student's voice is not only heard. It's valued, and it carries weight," said Fossett.

"It's very uncommon to have a student government in charge of facilities, bond, debt, IT, managing professional staff," explained Ryan Huff, a spokesperson for CU Boulder.

Huff called CU's model rare and said how other schools run their student programs played a role in the initial decision.

"We looked at other Pac-12 schools and they typically had a $1 million to $2-million budget for their student programming," he said.

Students like Fossett see it differently.

"We feel that the Pac-12 should better emulate us. We are a unique scenario where the student voice is actually heard here," he said.

Huff said another reason for the change is because students come and go and CU needs consistent long-range planning.

"Things like deferred maintenance on facilities that wasn't getting addressed," he said. "That's why under this plan, all the money would be the same. It would just be managed by professional staff."

"Our student fee regulations, all of our governing documents, our constitution restricts any sort of outrageous administration to come in and have any sort of radical change," said Fossett.

At the end of the day, students wouldn't stand for the changes or reasoning behind it.

"We rallied the student voice," said Fossett.

They organized a student walkout on Wednesday evening, while other students attended the CU regents meeting in Colorado Springs to voice their concern with the decision and it worked.

Chancellor DiStefano released this updated second statement on Thursday evening.

"We had this idea, which we are now hitting pause on," said Huff.

"It was a win for the day for us in the aspect that we felt students were heard," said Fossett. "But to say we're happy with it just being postponed and it just staying the way it is. That is not something we're necessarily happy with."

Huff said students and the chancellor will meet in the coming weeks in hopes of coming up with a solution that works for everyone.

"We really want the chancellor and everyone to know that we are open to compromise. We really want to better this university and if there are ways to do it, we are willing to do so," said Fossett.

"Hopefully we'll come up with a resolution everyone's good with," said Huff. "We know our students are passionate about issues, and this is certainly one of them and our hats are off to them for speaking up about this."