CSU Parking: Pros, Cons, and Reformations

A lot of people complain about parking on campus.  Parking permits are expensive, $1.75 an hour (for people who don’t have a permit) gets expensive quickly, and the fines for breaking the rules are too high.  They can be as much as $45, when the parking fines from the City of Fort Collins for parking too long in a two-hour zone are only $25.  It’s not hard to see why people are so irritated. 

Since the parking lots are property of CSU, CSU has the right to charge people to park in them (it would probably be foolish of CSU to make parking free).  Therefore, CSU has the right to charge whatever it wants for parking.  However, having the right to do something does not always make it ethical to do that thing.  You have a right to insult random people to their faces, but it is still unethical.  You have the right to charge whatever price you want for your goods, but not every price is a fair one.  

As for parking fees and fines, there are many students that have very little money and struggle to get by, and the high prices of parking certainly don’t help. CSU could stand to show a little more mercy and compassion to the students.

That being said, there are merits to the parking situation on campus.  First, high prices deter people who aren’t affiliated with the University or are not guests from parking on campus.  If parking prices were too low, patrons of the businesses around campus might park at CSU for lengthy shopping trips.

Second, there is plenty of free parking between 4:00 pm and 7:30 am.  This allows people to attend student organization meetings and other functions on campus at night without having to worry about parking.  

Third, the parking facilities are well-maintained.  They are clean, and they do not reek of urine like some other parking structures do.  In addition to all this, there is a free alternative to parking, and that’s taking the bus.  Parking at the South Transit Center is free, and all the bus routes are free to students.  It might be inconvenient to take the bus, but things that are convenient (getting to park on campus) tend to be more expensive than things that are not (taking the bus to campus).

Campus parking has its positive elements, so the system does not need to be overhauled, but it could use a few reforms.  One of them could be to reduce parking fines of members of the University community with proof of affiliation with the University, such as a CSU ID.

 Another could be for people affiliated with the University to turn their parking receipts in for a partial refund, so that they would not have to pay the full $1.75 per hour.  These policies would serve the purpose of preserving parking for students, faculty, and staff, the very people the parking policies ought to be in place to help, without penalizing them harshly when they break the rules.  Parking rules should not be used to collect money from the members of the University community, but to make sure parking is available for them by collecting money from “intruders” who take their parking.

Recently, Parking & Transportation Services teamed up with Rams Against Hunger.  If you donate $10 to Rams Against Hunger, you can get $20 off your parking fine, unless it is a billed fine.  This is a good policy, as it makes the cost of fines more reasonable.  However, this deal is sadly temporary, it started on December 1st, and will end on the 21st.  This should be in place year-round.  Aside from the fact that it makes costs more reasonable, it also brings more money to a worthier cause than managing parking and facilities.  

Trophy Hunting as a Conservation Strategy

On November 15th , the media reported that the Trump administration was planning on reversing an Obama 2014 ban on the importation of elephant trophies. On November 17th , President Trump announced the ban would stay in place. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which proposed the change in policy, argued hunting, “will enhance the survival of the species in the wild.” Despite the political backlash, the FWS’s decision to reverse the Obama-era ban does not suggest malevolence. Quite the contrary, in fact: reversing the ban reflects sound economic and environmental judgement.

Private property is integral to environmental conservation. Governments, who have gobbled up African land in order to conserve it, are a threat to conservation efforts. Illegal poaching still occurs on these lands, and local governments—with no economic incentives to do so—have often failed in taking the necessary steps to protect wildlife from poachers. In fact, the dearth of economic knowledge among policy makers has made the situation worse, as they frequently destroy ivory they acquire from poachers instead of selling it into the market, which restricts supply and increases prices, fueling even more poaching.

The root of the problem for elephants is their public ownership, and the fact that they are worth more dead than alive. A century ago, the American bison were in the same situation, but now that bison are often privately owned and sold for meat, their populations are stable. Cows, chickens, and pigs will never go extinct because they are economically valuable to the farmers and ranchers that raise these animals. As Aristotle once noted, “What is common to many is least taken care of, for all men have greater regard for what is their own than for what they possess in common with others.” In order to ensure conservation, putting land into private hands and monetizing it is a tried and true method of conservation.

In other words, in order to save elephants, we must kill them in an open and legal marketplace. If elephants were privately owned, landowners would have every incentive to keep the populations high enough in order to continue selling tickets to wealthy westerners who wanted their shot at killing an exotic beast. Pachyderm lovers should be leaders, rather than opponents, of trophy hunting liberalization.

The empirical evidence backs up the theoretical case in favor of wildlife privatization. In 1900, only 20 white rhinos were left after decades of uncontrolled habitat loss and slaughter, and all the remaining individuals lived on a single wildlife reserve in South Africa. The number of rhinos left barely functioned as a breeding population. However, by 2010, the number of white rhinos in Africa ballooned to over 20,000 individuals—an increase of 99,900 percent!

White rhinos are effectively privatized. Rhinos are valued using an auction system and both private land owners and the government has an economic incentive to conserve rhinos and their habitat in order to receive an income stream from trophy hunters.

Contrast the successful white rhino conservation efforts to the failing efforts to protect the black rhino. Black rhinos live in nations where it is illegal to privately own and hunt trophy animals. As a result, their population has fallen from 100,000 individuals in 1960 to about 2,500 today.

In Zimbabwe, trophy hunting is common on privately owned wildlife reserves. A study published in 2001 by the journal, Science, argued trophy hunting in Zimbabwe has “doubled the area of the country under wildlife management relative to the 13% in state protected areas.”

The Great Elephant Census, a peer-reviewed publication which tracks elephant
populations, found overall African elephant populations have declined thirty percent between 2007 and 2014. Zimbabwe, however, has had a stable elephant population over the same time period. The best performing nations in terms of elephant preservation—South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana—have some form of legalised elephant trophy hunting. The worst performing nations tend to rely entirely on government conservation and the prohibition of the ivory trade.

If a resource is being overused, it is important to establish ownership in order for private land owners to conserve the resources being extracted. A lack of ownership of big game animals in Africa has led to a dwindling population and shrinking habitat. The marketplace may seem cold and calculating, but putting an economic value on wild animals is the best way to protect them.

The Lindsey Shepherd recording reveals a larger problem

Earlier this month, Lindsay Shepherd, a TA at Wilfrid Laurier University was brought into a meeting with her superiors to be corrected. Her “crime” was that she showed a news segment to her class showcasing Professor Jordan B. Peterson. Peterson is a professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto who is openly opposed to the idea of compelled speech pertaining to pronoun usage towards transgender people, which is enforced by Bill C16 from the House of Commons in Canada. Shepherd recorded this meeting, posted it online, and the recording has now become the talking point for those involved with the discussion of political correctness on university campuses. This recording and the discussion surrounding this event is pertinent to all Universities, so as to not commit the same wrongs that Wilfrid Laurier has.

There are many things to learn from the recording alone. The biggest red flag is that you have academic superiors posturing, slandering, and equating Professor Jordan Peterson’s values of free speech, to the values held by Adolf Hitler while chastising this TA. The academics that did the correcting clearly had no idea what the ideas of Jordan Peterson are and were intellectually dishonest in their portrayal of his ideas. They claim that Peterson’s views are “problematic” as well as “transphobic.” An audacious claim, considering they don’t even back it up through reasoning or evidence. Nothing about Peterson’s views suggest a fear or hatred toward trans people. Instead, his argument against forced pronoun usage is based on ideas of freedom, enlightened by influential writers like Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who spent years of his life in a gulag, oppressed by the radical left wing politics of the Soviet Union.

The assertion that Jordan Peterson’s ideas are academically dishonest is frankly laughable, considering that the claim itself is rooted in false suppositions about who Peterson really is. Peterson cites many sources and psychological studies to back up the reasoning behind his beliefs. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to watch some of Peterson’s lectures on his YouTube channel, and see if you can find evidence that refutes my claim to that.

Wilfred Laurier University has since apologized due to the backlash they have received since the release of Shepherd’s recording. Many people online and offline have since condemned the behavior of the involved staff members.

Misrepresentations of Jordan B. Peterson’s views aside, the fact that Ms. Shepherd was brought in for correction after essentially showing both sides of a debate, is absolutely shameful for a University. If there is a public discourse in society, then both sides must be represented equally in the hopes to find the truth, and if the search for truth is not a core tenant of universities, then I don’t know what is.

The raising of a single political view to the rank of unquestionable is the sign of a rising tyranny, and I point to Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia as historical examples of why that is the case. This is an important issue that everyone involved in Universities should be aware of. It is in the best interest for everyone that Universities maintain a better standard for free speech and equal representation of substantiated ideas. If any of you at CSU have encountered some of the same Orwellian treatment that Shepherd has, please share your experience with us by contacting us via our email.

Our Responsibility to the Truth

Over the years, we have heard about the many problems within our society. Outrage and anger over these issues has created division between political parties, friends, and even within ourselves. These issues open rifts that seem like they will never close.  Discussing these problems and searching for a solution is important and needs to continue to happen, but something we have neglected to talk about is responsibility.

We all have responsibilities. As college students, we are here to receive a degree. We have tests, papers, and projects that dominate our lives. We have friends and family that want our attention. The people in our lives count on us, and we want to be there for them. We all know that we need to keep up with it all, yet we still fall short at times. We feel terrible about our failures, letting ourselves down, and even worse, letting others down. But we are only human and failure happens.

There are responsibilities we have neglected to talk about. Ones that have fallen to the wayside in this turbulent time of social change. The most important responsibility we all have is to tell the truth.

Every day, we are exposed to ideas, whether it be in class, or in our own heads. There are some ideas that we support and some that we do not. It can be scary and difficult to speak against ideas that you disagree with, especially if you are the only one to disagree. Yet this is our responsibility. Sitting idly by and letting the slow creep of rose covered intellectual thorn bushes consume us is unacceptable. When ideas are presented that are false, they need to be met with criticism and judgment. Too often do bad ideas run amok without challenge.

As long as those criticisms are presented wholeheartedly and without malice, the truth will emerge. How often do we say things that are not true or make statements that are not our thoughts? Things other people have said and we parrot? When we present ideas that we do not believe, we are tearing down ourselves and our communities.

When these falsehoods are normal, we teach each other that it is acceptable to not tell the truth. These intellectual thorn bushes will eventually consume us. They will choke away our lives and our society.

Everyone has been in a situation where they said something they don’t believe and choked the foundation of their own self-respect. Those lies may have ruined friendships or damaged the way we think of ourselves. Ask yourself, have you said something that you are just repeating, or sat back and said nothing, because it was easy? Do you enjoy living with that?

The truth is not easy, it is the exact opposite. The truth is hard. Try telling your best friend that they’re wrong about something important to them. Try telling yourself that you are wrong, that you have wrapped yourself in thorn bushes. It might be the hardest thing you do, but are those the friends you want to have, is that the person you want to be?

The responsibility to the truth is a not social problem that can be solved with protest and group action. No one is going to know if the ideas you are presenting align with what you believe is true. You will know though. You will wake up and face the garden you have grown.

As a community, we have drifted from the ideas of responsibility, as well as the truth. Sometimes we obsess over our rights and what we deserve. The social eye should return inward, to responsibilities, to ourselves. We should look inward and ask ourselves if we believe what we are saying.

Is Jared Polis Right for Colorado?

Over the summer, Congressman Jared Polis announced his run for Governor of Colorado in the 2018 election. Polis will, without a doubt, be joining a crowded field of candidates from both sides of the isle. His run has sparked much conversation due to his aggressive policy platform and the fact that he would be the first openly gay Governor in Colorado history if elected.

Congressman Polis got his start as a student at Princeton University where he began creating tech companies which he later sold for millions of dollars. His ambition and work ethic allowed him to work his way up to becoming a member of the Colorado State Board of Education. In 2008, he won a bid for the Second Congressional District of Colorado, which today contains cities such as Fort Collins, Boulder, and Estes Park. When he announced his candidacy in early June of this year, I took a closer look to see where he stands on the issues.

One of Polis’s main proposals is to expand early childhood education by increasing access to Kindergarten and Preschool for children. While this plan sounds nice, it would have to come with a huge price tag. Different estimates suggest this could cost the state ten of millions of dollars per year, totaling up to $300 million in the long run.

He has stated that he plans to work with legislators to find ways to pay for this, but in reality that just means that he is unsure of where exactly all the money will come from. In a state that is $57 billion-dollars in debt, that would certainly be troublesome to voters who are concerned with fiscal responsibility.

Another proposal of Congressman Polis is to get the state to use strictly renewable energy by 2040.  He suggests that we incentivize the use of “green” energy through tax credits, subsidies, and increased taxes for oil and natural gas.

How Polis plans to accomplish this in Colorado, where we have seen huge economic improvement due to fracking and other drilling operations, is unclear. One thing that’s for certain, is that the fossil fuel companies will fight Polis hard on this issue, and most likely win.

Looking ahead to 2018, I see a Polis win as very unlikely due to his undeveloped, fantasy-land type policies. His ideas have a nice ring to them, but are neither affordable nor achievable. Instead, Colorado should search for a candidate who is more fiscally responsible, so we can reduce the massive state debt, continue to grow the economy, and be a state that stands up for our rights and liberties.

References:

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/06/11/jared-polis-colorado-governor-race/

https://www.the74million.org/article/u-s-rep-jared-polis-launches-ed-platform-in-crowded-colo-governor-race/