May 062007
 
Authors: Vimal Patel

I don’t have anything eloquent to say. Just a thank-you list in no particular order to sources who made my job much easier, interesting or both.

Brian Chase – As director of facilities, Chase was in the middle of some of our most enterprising stories, and stories people in his position avoid like the plague. But whether it was talking about his department’s policies on locking doors or cleanup of asbestos, Chase never shied away from a reporter. Public officials can learn a lot from him.

John Straayer – When you need comment on a political story and you need it quick, Straayer’s the man. An expert on Colorado politics, Straayer is probably the most quoted political commentator in the state – not only in the Collegian but virtually every other media outlet as well.

Chief Dexter Yarbrough – This guy cares about the campus. Yes, there was the time he threatened my livelihood and freedom with felony trespassing charges and said his job was not to convict me but to inconvenience me and make my life hell, “like you do to others.” But hey, we all make mistakes. And what are “ethics” but pesky suggestions that make getting things done difficult? The Chief’s OK in my book.

Larry ********* – a.k.a. library masturbator. (“At 48, I don’t have the distance.”) OK. I’m not going to use Larry’s last name because I think he’s suffered enough. He was convicted of splattering his love all over a library computer last year, cementing my place in college journalism history. Did we do the right thing by publicly humiliating him? I don’t know. It’s a question I’ll be pondering ’til the end, I think. Regardless, talking to him for about 20 minutes, he seemed like a decent guy who just did something stupid and disgusting. My advice to you, Larry: If you ever do something like that again and some reporter clown calls you up, tell him or her “no comment” and hang up. Trust me.

Mark Settle – No Student Fee Review Board meeting was complete without questioning from Settle. Yes, when he spoke – and he spoke a lot – people often rolled their eyes. But it’s thorough questioning like his that keeps officials honest. This may sound like a leap, but I don’t think we’d be in Iraq right now if reporters and/or watchdog committees were filled with people of Settle’s mindset.

Democracy is not on autopilot. As people who care about this country, it’s the job of every citizen, official and reporter to pester, annoy and scare every public official entrusted with power (about their public work, that is. Not private you-know-what jobs).

Brother Matt Bourgault – Ah, the Plaza preacher. I have skipped several classes and even got a parking ticket when my meter ran out all because of Brother Matt’s wildly amusing rants against CSU’s “loose women” and “whoremongers,” along with virtually every other group imaginable.

What scared me the most about Brother Matt’s episodes were not his hellfire-and-brimstone sermons, but the imbeciles who engaged in heated arguments with him. To me, Brother Matt will always be an agitator – an effective one at that. The extremists were the students whose skin he got under. And maybe it’s just the idealist in me, but every now and then, I glimpsed a twinkle in the preacher’s eye, a cool acknowledgment that it’s all a big joke. Preach on, Brother Matt.

Mason Tvert – The great leader of the pot-legalization SAFER (Safer Alternative for Alternative Recreation). Yes, Amendment 44 failed, but the guy sure made Colorado politics more interesting for a while. After doing half a million articles about Tvert and the failed amendment, I was still unsure about who he was – an unwavering champion of freedom and liberty or a pothead who just wanted to smoke legally? And then it struck me like a delayed hit. In America, you can be both.

There are many more sources I should be thanking. But these are the ones that, for weirdness, passion or memorability, stick out as I sat down to write this column.

I’ve got another semester at CSU, and I’m sure I will come across these guys again – at CSU or in the real world. But for now, thanks to all inside and outside the newsroom that made this year my most challenging, exhausting and rewarding to date.

Preach liberty, fight the good fight and change the world – or, at least, someone’s world.

And whatever you do, don’t take life too seriously, for if you do, as the great American author and philosopher Elbert Hubbard quipped, “You will never get out of it alive.”

Vimal Patel is a senior technical journalism major. His column runs occasionally in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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