DENVER — Student leaders from the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus changed their plans to protest tuition hikes and campus equality at the Colorado Capitol on Friday out of fear they would be discouraging open discussions.
Officials from CU’s four campuses visited the capitol Friday for the annual CU Advocacy Day and met with legislators, who passed a resolution recognizing the university’s achievements and contributions to the state.
Students from the Boulder campus said they originally planned to bring a large group of protestors to the capitol, but fear of sending mixed messages led the group to back down.
Brittni Hernandez, a leader of a movement on the Boulder campus supporting affordable education and an inclusive campus, said the students did not want to discourage formal discussions about the lack of state funding for CU.
“We didn’t organize a protest today at CU Advocacy Day because we expected time for dialogue and advocacy between legislators, CU administrators and CU students, faculty and staff — this is something the movement supports,” Hernandez said. “That, however, was not the case. I heard more from administrators and legislators about the basketball game last night as opposed to critical dialogue and advocacy for student, faculty and staff concerns.”
Hernandez said the students are all proud to be Buffs, but were overall disappointed with the lack of advocacy on students’ behalf.
Last week, the movement brought about 100 students together to protest outside the office of Chancellor Phil DiStefano.
At the statehouse on Friday, CU President Bruce Benson addressed about 200 CU advocates, including state legislators and CU administrators, alumni and students, highlighting the university’s “entrepreneurial” spirit in maintaining quality education with little help from the state.
Benson presented a bar graph during his address pointing to CU’s state funding as compared to other universities nationwide.
“When you combine the state funding and tuition together for us, compared to our national peers, we rank right at the bottom,” Benson said. “So we’re doing a lot with a little.”
Kelly Fox, financial chief for CU’s system administration, presented funding statistics Friday, focusing on decreasing state funding and increasing tuition rates, which Fox said are below national growth.
“We have actually maintained a growth rate that does not exceed what is going on throughout the nation,” Fox said.
About 5.7 percent of CU’s budget for the current fiscal year is funded by the state, according to a budget report from CU. Tuition and fees fund 29.6 percent of the budget — the university’s largest revenue source, according to the report.