Gazette column necessitates defense of UCCS

March 9, 2015

Jonathan Toman, editor-in-chief
[email protected]

Bill Vogrin is out to get the big, bad UCCS that strikes down our innocent neighbors, and I need to come to the defense of our school.

For the second time this academic year, The Gazette columnist has bemoaned the situation neighbors around the campus find themselves in, this time going after the planned private housing that is slated to go where Bates Elementary (across Austin Bluffs from UCCS) currently resides.

In a March 4 piece, Vogrin chronicled the plight of resident Jennifer Speer, whom he quoted.

“It’s very sad what is happening to our neighborhood,” Speer said. “I have lived my whole life here. I still have many of the same neighbors. This is awful. It’s killing us.”

Besides the obvious hyperbole of the last sentence and Vogrin’s blatant use of it, there are several issues UCCS students and Vogrin have to remember when critiquing our university.

Strangely for someone who usually enjoys analyzing university administration and statistics, I will utilize some of those statistics in support of UCCS.

UCCS employs 1,421 people. Find another single entity in Colorado Springs that is responsible for that many jobs.

65 percent of UCCS graduates live in Colorado. That means the talent that is developed here stays here, giving back to the community.

UCCS students, faculty and staff generate $30 million annually in state and local taxes. Our government at every level is supported by UCCS folks.

UCCS core expenses are 14 percent less than those of peer universities. We take less from the community and our students when it comes to running a top-notch university.

Come March 20, the school will have hosted both a gubernatorial and a mayoral forum, an opportunity for public debate to take place on the issues that plague all of us.

UCCS is a huge supporter of military students and the Lane Center serves as a key cog in local healthcare.

Finally, Vogrin forgets the fact that the proposed building is from a private developer, not UCCS.

“Neighbors fear intense traffic, greater late-night noise and even more trash and vandalism they blame on their student neighbors,” said Vogrin.

That’s fair. College students are loud people.

But in defense of students: When you get old, sometimes you forget what it was like to be young and a bit crazy. I’m sure you did crazy things when you were 20, too.

Part of it is that UCCS is the first actual college Colorado Springs has had to deal with.

Colorado College was built into the town at the outset, and it isn’t big enough in students or land to cause problems. The Air Force Academy has its own property. PPCC is spread across the whole of the town in small parcels.

UCCS, and the problems we face, are new, and people are always afraid of new.

“Neither woman is thrilled by the projects taking aim on Cragmor, a community of 3,500 modest homes that neighbors say is rapidly transitioning from a quiet, family area into a haven for hard-partying college students in rentals,” said Vogrin.

The transition is undeniable. But to paint UCCS as the overwhelming, unstoppable negative force that causes innocent neighbors to literally be killed is both unfair and untrue.