Candidates running for an at-large University of Colorado regent seat debated one another on the Boulder campus Wednesday, seeming to agree that funding is the paramount issue.
But they were split on more partisan topics such as political diversity among faculty members and whether there should be a third tuition tier for undocumented students who grew up in Colorado but pay out-of-state rates.
All four candidates for the at-large seat participated in the debate in the Glenn Miller Ballroom. The candidates are incumbent Democratic Regent Stephen Ludwig, Republican Brian Davidson, Libertarian Daniel Ong and American Constitution Party candidate Tyler Belmont.
In 2006, Ludwig -- a corporate communications professional
The Boulder campus -- which is famously liberal -- recently launched a search for a donor-funded visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy, and the candidates were asked whether it's a position they support and if there is enough political diversity among the faculty.
Davidson said it's a good idea to bring more political balance to the faculty, and he supports the position.
"It's been well-documented in many studies that anywhere between 75 to 90 percent of faculty at universities in the United States are liberal or liberal-leaning," he said. "I think some balance would be appropriate."
Ludwig, though, said the time spent trying to raise money for the position has been a distraction.
"Certain people are drawn to academics, and certain people are drawn to banking," he said. "And sometimes it falls along certain party lines ... however, we do need to encourage and ensure that students from all political points of view are never silenced and that they have freedom of speech."
The Board of Regents in February passed a resolution in support of a bill creating a new tuition tier for undocumented immigrants who lived in the state for at least three years. The rate would be lower than out-of-state rates, but higher than resident rates. That bill died in the state House. CU Regent Joe Neguse, a Democrat, has expressed interest in proposing lowering tuition for undocumented students who now pay out-of-state rates despite growing up in Colorado.
Davidson said he's not in favor of a third tuition tier for undocumented students and it's something that ultimately should be taken up by the state Legislature or the federal government.
"The reality is we have a number of out-of-state students who are U.S. citizens and we have a number of
Ludwig is in support of the notion, saying he thinks it's immoral to hold children accountable for their parents' actions and that an educated workforce is best for the Colorado economy.
"If we want to compete and we want a strong economy, we need as many people as qualified to go to college," Ludwig said.
Ong said one of the top reasons he's running for regent is to address the extra tuition burden that is placed on part-time students and that he would want to take that up first before tackling the tuition structure for undocumented students.
Belmont -- an 18-year-old Colorado Springs high school student -- said he'd like to see the university go a step further and extend in-state rates to undocumented students who grew up in Colorado.
"Discrimination against undocumented students isn't fiscally logical, and it's immoral," Belmont said.
Candidates also brought some new ideas forward Wednesday evening during the debate, which spanned topics of higher education affordability, diversity programs and concealed-carry on campus.
Davidson suggested that CU gather information that could better help students and their parents understand the return-on-investment potential for degrees. The database could track and provide cumulative data about how well graduates from degree programs are faring, if they're satisfied with their jobs and how much they're earning.
Ludwig suggested that low-enrollment programs on CU's campus could be combined with similar programs at other Colorado universities, especially if they are in jeopardy of being cut.
During a discussion about guns being allowed on campus, Belmont said students should be able to vote on whether those with concealed-weapon permits can bring guns to campus.
And Ong -- in a discussion about new revenue sources -- said there is potential for the legalization of marijuana to bring more tax revenue to higher education.
The debate was co-sponsored by the CU Student Government and the Daily Camera.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or email@example.com.