Regents asked to support in-state tuition for undocumented students

Some want CU to endorse current Senate bill; board listens but takes no action

Members of the CU and higher education communities urged the University of Colorado Board of Regents to support state legislation that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.

The board took no action at the Tuesday, Feb. 22, meeting, which continued today. Regent Monisha Merchant, D-Lakewood, thanked the public for their comments.

Among those speaking was Victor Galvin, a former Community College of Denver student who said he is undocumented and that he could not afford to attend college this year because of the high cost.

"CU-Boulder was one of the only schools that did not support this bill openly in 2009, and it only lost by three votes," Galvin said. "It would have helped to have CU's support. ... It will give us the strength to keep fighting the fight."

Senate Bill 11-126, which would allow undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition rates, moved forward this week at the Capitol when the Senate Finance Committee approved it with a 4-3 vote. The committee amended the bill to clarify that eligible students would need to have attended a Colorado high school for three years and either graduated or received a GED. The bill advances for a second reading in the Senate.

The bill would not result in higher costs to institutions or the state, because undocumented students would not be eligible for state aid. Erika Blum, who said she works with undocumented students, said $27 million in additional revenue was generated in Texas when that state passed a similar law.

In other business at the meeting on Tuesday and today:

  • The board's newly established athletics subcommittee met for the first time and heard presentations from CU-Boulder Athletic Director Mike Bohn and Faculty Athletics Representative David Clough. Bob Kirchner, a member of the Buffs men's basketball team in the 1940s, spoke about his time at the university; Regent Jim Geddes, R-Sedalia, said he hopes to host a guest representing some aspect of CU's athletics history at each of the subcommittee's meetings (three per year) and is asking the university community for suggestions.
  • The board approved a restructuring of student fees. The change has no effect on revenue, but provides administrative streamlining for campuses and students and allows for greater consistency and increased flexibility.
  • Three capital construction projects received approval from the regents: renovation of Kittredge West at CU-Boulder, installation of a new PET/CT scanner at the Anschutz Medical Campus, and renovation of 3650 N. Nevada Ave. on the University of Colorado Colorado Springs Campus. That building was a gift through the CU Foundation, and had primarily been used for storage. The regents approved a contract with Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs to manage and market it as the North Nevada Expo Center, where the group will stage a home-and-garden show and other events.
  • The regents recognized this year's winners of the Thomas Jefferson Award, David Braddock, Ph.D., and Terry Schwartz, Ph.D. Braddock, executive director of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and associate vice president, said Jefferson would have called for protection for people with disabilities if he were alive today. "Jefferson got it right in 1776, and he would get it right today," he said in accepting the award. Schwartz, associate dean of the School of Public Affairs at UCCS, also received her award at the meeting, noting, "Jeffersonian ideals have long been both inspirational and aspirational to me."
  • As part of a consent agenda, the regents approved the naming of the Boettcher Commons on the Anschutz Medical Campus and approved contracts for Jon Embree, head coach of the CU Buffaloes football team, and Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator. The board also voted in favor of CU-Boulder buying property at 1402 Broadway Ave. for potential future campus expansion; Geddes opposed the move in a 6-1 vote.