Students who trekked across the Lory Student Center Plaza on Monday were almost literally caught in the middle of the on-campus stadium debate, as the proposalâ€™s supporters, opponents and information gatherers battled for attention throughout the afternoon.
The Associated Students of CSU organized the â€œcomprehensive Plaza forum,â€ according to Chase Eckerdt, the organizationâ€™s director of Governmental Affairs.
â€œSo far, weâ€™ve done voice surveys and stuff like that, which are a little impersonal in a way. Theyâ€™re a great resource, donâ€™t get me wrong, but I think we can provide a lot more actual information when weâ€™re in person because weâ€™ve got books and pictures and everything out here,â€ he said, describing ASCSUâ€™s role as a conversation facilitator.
Eckerdt and fellow student government representatives pointed passer-bys to blown-up photos of other universitiesâ€™ on-campus stadiums and enlarged maps detailing where CSUâ€™s proposed facility is likely to be built in order to address their questions, comments and concerns regarding the proposal.
â€œ(Itâ€™s important) that we allow people to have the opportunity to express their opinion to us, because quite honestly, weâ€™re a good channel of dialogue to the administration and the advisory committee,â€ Eckerdt said, referring to the group whose charged with researching the proposalâ€™s feasibility and reporting their findings to university President Tony Frank.
Student government also brought Be Bold â€“ the on-campus stadium supporters â€“ and Save Our Stadium Hughes â€“ its naysayers â€“ to the Plaza to voice their opinions at the same time.
â€œItâ€™s nice to have been invited,â€ said Dan Weatherman, an SOS Hughes member. â€œIâ€™m glad they did that, because we need to have both sides,â€
Electrical engineering Ph.D. student Kyle Tarplee agreed.
â€œSo Iâ€™ve heard that the stadium is going to cost roughly $200 million,â€ he said. â€œAnd I know thatâ€™s not going to come from tax money and things of that nature, but nonetheless I can still think of 200 million better ways to spend $200 million.â€
But his opinions are not universal. On a student government comment board, one passer-by scrawled, â€œWin games. Get support. Get new stadium.â€
Despite the mixed reaction to Weathermanâ€™s message, the conversations he had while he was on the plaza were reportedly civil.
â€œWe all want the best for both the university and the city,â€ he said. â€œBut thatâ€™s not enough common ground because we have such radically different visions of what is best and of who gets to define it.â€
For example, they take issue with on-campus stadium supporters dubbing their organization â€œBe Bold.â€ Instead, Weatherman said, they should be wise.
â€œIf youâ€™re just bold without being wise, you end up being rash,â€ he said.
Be Bold member Tyler Shannon said he saw things differently.
â€œWell, I think it is wise to invest money in CSU by private donors and getting donors on campus so that they can reinvest into academics. I think thatâ€™s one of the most wise things we can do,â€ he said.
In his view, opposition to the proposal is misguided.
â€œMost of the students that I talk to are like, â€˜Iâ€™m not even going to be here in three years, so it doesnâ€™t matter to me.â€™ And the difficult thing for a lot of students is that they donâ€™t know what an on-campus stadium does,â€ Shannon said.
â€œTheyâ€™ve never been to Ole Miss, theyâ€™ve never been to Stanford, theyâ€™ve never been to these places that have an on-campus stadium to really be able to relate to the benefits that it brings to them.â€
Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at email@example.com.