Thereâ€™s a stigma involved with achieving an education: Once you get a degree in whatever area is your specialty, youâ€™re educated.
But as a reporter whoâ€™s covered presidential elections, been a part of international controversies and reported on some of the most intimate local issues that affect my readers, I can say with no hesitation that the classroom is not where you gain a real knowledge of the world that affects you.
Iâ€™m not the best student; ask any of my teachers, and theyâ€™ll confirm (I give them all permission, so they can get around those pesky FERPA rules). And Iâ€™m certainly not giving you a license to skip class. Youâ€™re paying a lot of money for a valuable product that will help you later on. Attend class.
But, at the same time, pay attention to the environment that doesnâ€™t dictate your grades.
I canâ€™t tell you how many times Iâ€™ve looked into the eyes of a student interviewee who didnâ€™t know the name Tony Frank, who couldnâ€™t tell me with any certainty what CSUâ€™s governing board is or who didnâ€™t know that Fort Collinsâ€™ mayor Doug Hutchinson actually has little power over city politics.
And campus statistics exemplify that problem. Only about 20 percent of students vote in student government elections.
Fewer care about local politics. Most students, in my experience, only focus on the nebulous national politics that have only a small effect on our lives.
But any educated person should tell you that the policy discussions and decisions that happen right down the street affect you far more than almost any national debate or controversy that headlines CNN or The New York Times on a daily basis.
Pay attention to any forum that will bring you information about your campus community.
Theyâ€™re abound. Youâ€™re reading one right now, and others are right at your fingertips. Go to www.coloradoan.com every day. Pick up The Denver Post from the free readership bins that litter campus. Visit www.collegian.com to see stories about the wonderful things that happen on campus on a daily basis.
And once youâ€™ve gathered all this information, ask yourself questions about it:
Does Tony Frank, with all his articulate wisdom spoken through that immaculate goatee, really have the studentsâ€™ best interest in mind? I think he does, but it doesnâ€™t hurt to be skeptical.
Is the system Board of Governors really doing all it can to ensure a quality education for us? I think its members have a long way to go.
Is student government running efficiently and effectively on your fee payments? Maybe yes, maybe no.
Does the Collegian cover campus effectively? In certain circumstances, yes. In others, I say an emphatic no, and thatâ€™s partially my fault.
And once youâ€™ve tabulated the answers to the questions youâ€™ve asked yourself, act on them.
Get involved with the Associated Students of CSU. Write a letter to the editor at the Collegian, or better yet, get a job here. Itâ€™s easy. Go to governing board meetings, which are typically held all day on the first Tuesdays and Wednesdays of the month, every month. Deliver a letter of whatever you feel, whether it be appreciation or concern, to the Presidentâ€™s Office.
And I finally want to ask you as a departing student who has served this university with every part of his soul and ability as a campus journalist, to hold us, the Collegian, accountable.
If youâ€™re unhappy with the way weâ€™re covering you, let us know. Our doors and hearts are always open. And I have full faith my colleagues and former underlings do have your best interest in mind and want to serve you well. But they need your feedback.
Please, CSU students, as a farewell to me as someone who cares about you, be involved and pay attention.
Aaron Hedge is a departing senior English major who might come back some day. He loves you, and he can be reached at email@example.com.