Feb 192012
Authors: Chance Johnson

I remember spending many late nights with my girlfriend (now wife) while she worked in the dingy art building before graduating from CSU. The old building is known for its seemingly endless supply of entrances and exits, ensuring that you are bound to find at least one unlocked door after hours.

For this reason, I accompanied her in case anyone came in off the street who had no business there. After a rain or snow storm, buckets lined the hallways, catching water from the leaky roof.

That was 2007. Now five years later, there is little evidence that any improvements have been made. A sign hangs on the wall that reads “The MORE money spent on cleaning up graffiti, the LESS spent on your education.” The words “cleaning up graffiti” have been crossed out and replaced with “a new gym.” This bold statement sums up the neglect of departments such as this one.

There is certainly reason to believe that academics on campus are taking a backseat to its athletics. Controversy has ensued over the last few weeks over a proposal to build a brand-new stadium on campus. University President Tony Frank and Athletic Director Jack Graham are fighting for the stadium’s existence. This furthers the reality of the concept. The truth is, unless you are a sports fan, you don’t care about a stadium.

Coloradoan reporter Trevor Hughes mentioned in a recent article that the Fort Collins City Council has questioned Frank about the proposal. Frank argued that the on-site stadium will attract more out-of-state students and that the stadium will put the university in more of a national spotlight.

Call me crazy, but it is much more of a priority of mine to seek out the school with the finest academic record, rather than the one with the coolest stadium. It seems lazy to try to win over students this way.

If I were looking at schools to attend, this would be a red flag for me. The academics should sell themselves. After all, achieving academic success is why we’re all here. Not to go to football games. Even though games are fun, they’re merely a consolation.

Spring semester of 2011, I was taking a course taught by a grad student in which the class average was a “D.” I emailed the department chair, expressing my dissatisfaction that I was paying for a class taught by a grad student, especially in a fairly large lecture hall. The chair person expressed their dismay by explaining that because of budget cuts, they could not staff a professor to teach this course, acknowledging the low quality of instruction.

What about those of us who couldn’t care less about football? We are a demographic that is being ignored. Attempting to attract students by baiting them with a football stadium will inevitably comprise a student body of hardcore sports fans, singling out and isolating those of us who instead focus on the arts. CSU will be less diverse than it already is.

On Feb. 3, I attended a speech given by Tony Frank regarding a significant fundraising achievement by the university. Frank announced that the goal had been met of raising $500 million, which in part would go toward new construction on campus.

I wonder how many students would rather see the $500 million go toward returning tuition rates to where they were before the 20 percent hike last June. Instead, mundane projects like the “Study Cube” are being funded. The hike resulted in CSU being one of the largest offenders in rate increases. CNNMoney.com reported that CSU had to submit “special reports” explaining the price hikes.

Situations like this are what make me feel like a stadium is of low importance, and that priorities are out of whack. Although the stadium is planned to be privately funded, the time, focus and energy are being spent in the wrong place.

Chance Johnson is a senior journalism major. His column appears every other Monday in the Collegian. He can be reached at letters@collegian.com

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