Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Metropolitan State University of Denver lives up to its name

On July 1, Metropolitan State College officially became Metropolitan State University of Denver, ending a process that had dragged on for four years, through research, debate and, finally, the approval of the Colorado Legislature. But the school in the heart of the city really made its name last month, when it created a new tuition level for some students who are in this county illegally.

And Metro didn't wait for lawmakers to sign off on the concept, which will charge a qualified, undocumented student $6,716 a year in tuition -- compared to $15,985 a year for out-of-state students and $4,304 for regular in-state tuition.

But then, this past session, the Colorado Legislature again killed ASSET, which would have set up a similar formula for undocumented kids who live in Colorado and graduated from Colorado high schools. So Metro went ahead and did the right thing for students who are living here illegally -- students who were brought to this country by their parents years ago and now consider Colorado home. Their only home.

Attorney General John Suthers believes that Metro's move was illegal: "Discounted tuition is a 'public benefit,' which under current state law may only be provided to individuals who prove their lawful presence in the United States," he argues.

And former congressman Tom Tancredo, who recently weighed in on the Supreme Court's decision on Arizona's show-me-your-papers bill, has said that his foundation will file suit against Metro for the move.

But in the meantime, Metro is living up to its name as a higher education institutino with high ideals -- and has given lawmakers a real lesson in doing the right thing.

See the new logo for MSU Denver -- the school's new nickname -- here.

Click to read "Head of the Class," our profile of Pablo, a star student at West High School who just happens to be in the country illegally.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun