This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.
A University of Colorado labor union has questioned the university system’s priorities, pandemic cutbacks, and business model, and urges more spending on students and employees.
The United Campus Workers Colorado/Communications Workers of America Local 7799, which represents workers at the system’s four campuses, said in a report released Monday that the University of Colorado has prioritized building up its finances over employees and students, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tracy Berger, a CU employee who helped write the report, said she wants the University of Colorado System to continue managing its finances while better caring for its employees and students. The union also has called on the system to be more transparent in budgeting, pay living wages, and pause debt-financed construction.
Colorado runs its public colleges as enterprise funds, or government services that run similar to private businesses. But Berger stressed that the University of Colorado also has a mission to educate Coloradans. She said that the system prioritizes out-of-state students who make up 30% of full-time students and who pay higher tuition, and that it unnecessarily pads its investment portfolio.
“We want what public education was originally intended to do as opposed to what it’s currently doing,” she said, “which is acting as a business.”
The union intends for its report to sway the $4.5 billion university as it budgets for next fiscal year.