A student election this week at the University of Colorado at Boulder could tip the balance in a battle between bluntness and diplomacy.
Two years ago the university's Student Union agreed that student fees could be used to finance the construction of three new campus buildings on the condition that the buildings bear plaques stating that students were forced to pony up the money "when the State of Colorado would not fund capital projects in higher education."
Under the agreement, each student this year will pay $100 toward the construction costs of the law, business, and multipurpose classroom buildings. That fee will climb in $100 annual increments to $400 until the buildings are paid off.
Current student leaders, however, were concerned about the message the plaques would send about the university's relationship with the state government and have sought to soften the language. One suggested alternative is that the plaques say something about taxpayer-imposed limits on state spending on higher education at the time.
"Putting a cheap shot at the state on a plaque does not commemorate students," says Andrew Aitchison, one of the student union's three executives. "I think it actually makes students look petty and immature."
Mr. Aitchison has proposed his own bill, in which the plaques would say that the student government "went above and beyond its duties to support a capital construction fee when traditional sources of funding were limited."
That measure was tabled on October 12 in anticipation of this week's election. Five seats are at stake, and all were held by legislators who supported the original, strong wording. Only two of the five incumbents are up for re-election.
How interesting. I think that this points to the lack of support of higher education by state governments. I think it is an interesting question as to whether this could hurt the relationship between the school and the state. It seems to be that if the university accepted the student money, then they get to put on the building what they want.