Affordability was at the top of the list of discussion topics Wednesday night when Linda Shoemaker and Teddy Weverka, candidates seeking to represent Boulder on the University of Colorado's Board of Regents, met for a debate.
Though the two Democrats agreed on many issues at the debate — held in a classroom on the CU campus — each had a distinct vision on how to save students money.
Shoemaker, a former journalist and attorney who previously served on the Boulder Valley school board, now holds a position on the board of the CU Foundation. She said that because the state only provides 5 percent of the CU budget, down from about 60 percent in the 1970s, increasing revenues generated internally will be important to lessening the pressure on tuition to pay for operations.
"We can increase income as well through philanthropy," she said. "I sit on the board for the CU Foundation. That currently brings in more money than the state gives us, and we are trying to double that over the next five years."
Weverka, who works in CU's Technology Transfer Office, said he will be relying on his experience in higher education (he was an instructor and a CU graduate student from 2008 to 2011) and as an entrepreneur (he founded two telecommunications companies) to help him if elected.
He pointed to being able to provide more affordable campus housing as a means to help students better afford a CU education. He said CU students are in a rush to move off campus after their freshman year because living on campus is so expensive.
If the university could find ways to build dorms at about $100 a square foot, Weverka said, students may be able to afford to stay on campus and avoid the high Boulder rents.
"I do believe we can house people cheaply," he said. "People are thinking we need to build these fancy dorms to attract students. What attracts students is a low debt load."
About 30 people attended the debate, which was organized by the CU College Democrats.
One attendee who identified himself as a student asked what the candidates' visions were for CU's stance on marijuana laws considering the university's history of opposing the annual 4/20 gathering on campus while being located in a state where recreational marijuana is legal.
Both said a balance must be struck on campus.
"The important thing for CU and for CU's reputation is to be sure people understand that you still cannot ingest marijuana on campus. And it is still illegal for anyone under the age of 21," Shoemaker said. "It's really important for those messages to get out to the parents."
Weverka agreed with Shoemaker that CU needs to carefully regulate marijuana on campus. He said it is likely for people under the age of 21 to experiment with it, including those living in the dorms, so the question is how it will be policed.
"I'm not going to police it, going around knocking on doors saying, 'Hey, are you smoking dope in there?" he said. "And I don't think we should."
Shoemaker and Weverka so far are the only candidates vying to represent Colorado's 2nd Congressional District on the Board of Regents in November, according to the Secretary of State's website.
Local Democrats will begin deciding which one they want to support March 4, when precinct caucuses begin. Democratic primaries will be in June.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.