May 062007
 
Authors: Drew Haugen

Here ends my “series of very solemn and obvious editorials,” to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Twenty-eight columns, a few scattered news stories and approximately 20,000 words written later, what do I have to reflect upon? I am passionate about learning, examining the issues, critically analyzing situations, speaking my opinion and teaching.

And if there is one thing I hope my columns reflect, it is the importance of knowing how to learn and think critically.

I suppose my writings have most of the time been neither inflammatory nor sensational. And, as a writer, this is something you may sometimes regret. It is usually the column with outrageous claims and outlandish opinions that garners letters to the editor and popularity. And while my popularity may have been lower, I have been afforded the luxury of an audience that would wittingly respond when I erred.

Of the letters I have received, they have been constructive in nature, expanding thought on a topic, correcting evidence I used incorrectly or offering a different angle of opinion, showing that I am engaging a readership capable of thinking critically.

In this way, I am glad that my columns steered clear of conflictual topics.

What’s the use of writing about something that could be read about in the New York Times, Washington Post, Denver Post and seen on Fox News on the same day?

I find that it is much more interesting and pertinent to examine local and original topics specifically important to the Colorado State readership.

Partisan politics, the “Culture Wars” and high-profile military conflicts, all while very visible and popular topics in the American media and in debate among the American people, overshadow more pertinent crises for the CSU student.

Not to say that the Iraq War, abortion and the constant battles between Republicans and Democrats aren’t important, but these topics have been blundered to death in syndicated media for years.

In contrast, little is known about the more immediate crises that Colorado State faces. For example, the funding crisis in which Colorado higher education is currently mired.

Almost a billion dollars of funding is needed . just for Colorado institutions to catch-up to its peer institutions nationally.

And, because of the lack of funding, Colorado State has cut faculty, services, academic programs and resources in the last ten years.

As a result, Colorado State has become increasingly dependent on adjunct professors: a community of professors that is increasingly marginalized by poor pay and benefits.

The funding crisis at Colorado State and in Colorado higher education is not an “us versus the administration” problem; it is a Colorado State community and greater-Colorado problem.

The Iraq War will end, eventually giving way to a different controversial war elsewhere. Every once in a while, a psychopath will shoot up a school. And the Democrats will do whatever it is they do again and again.

But real systematic societal inequities and problems exist that deserve our focus, not only because we have moral obligations to solve them, but because these problems directly affect the Colorado State community.

What’s more, the Colorado State community has the power to solve these problems. In the end, I hope that I have engaged my readership in critical intellectual discourse on topics that are somewhat displaced from the sensationalism of mainstream media and American political debate. The real problems are the ones that don’t garner big headlines, aren’t talked about as often as they should be and don’t receive a flood of support to try and find a solution.

At the same time these problems that will directly affect our community, such as the Colorado higher education funding crisis, are problems that we can solve as a community.

To quote President John F. Kennedy: “So, let us not be blind to our differences – but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved.” Think critically, speak out, and make a difference.

Happy Graduation!

Drew Haugen is a senior International Studies major. After graduation he will be a teacher for Teach For America in Los Angeles. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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