CSU summer prof. to teach religious history

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May 092010
Authors: K.C. Fleming

In 1996, when James Lindsay was a new history professor at CSU, he used to teach his classes with his newly born son, Zachary, cradled in his arms.

“The girls thought it was cute and the guys thought ‘What’s wrong with this guy?’” Lindsay said.

Since then, Lindsay has become what many of his students call one of the most interesting, yet challenging history professors on campus.

Lindsay is an expert on the religious and geographic history of the Middle East.

In addition to teaching, Lindsay has written and edited several books, including “The Daily Life of the Medieval Islamic World,” which he uses in his Islamic history course as the main text. The text chronicles daily life, historic events and technological trends in the early Islamic world.

Egypt banned the book upon publication by the al-Azhar, the chief religious authority in Egypt.

“The phrase that was in the State Department’s report was ‘contains material contrary to the principals of Islam.’ And I have no idea what that means,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay will use the banned text when he teaches HIST 115, a course on the Islamic World up to the 1800s, this summer for as many as 60 students. He will also teach HIST 432, the Sacred History in the Bible and the Qur’an for up to 40 students during CSU’s first summer session.

HIST 115 examines the history of the Islamic world, from the birth of Muhammed to the decline of the Ottoman Empire, while HIST 432, what Lindsay calls an “intellectual history class,” will compare different religious theories from the Bible to the Qur’an.

Lindsay said students taking HIST 115 can fulfill their All-University Core Curriculum, AUCC, history requirement, but each class is very intensive and requires a high level of commitment.

“(Lindsay’s) knowledge, especially on jihad, is very good … and he does great jokes,” said Nicholas Swails a history graduate student.

After graduating from Calvin College with a bachelor’s degree in history, Lindsay found a job loading trucks for Pepsi-Cola.

In 1982, after realizing that he didn’t want to be working second shift as a heavy lifter all of his life, Lindsay said he decided to apply for a study-abroad program in Jerusalem, where he studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for two years.

He spent an additional year studying in Cairo after receiving his master’s degree.

“I was intrigued by the similarities and dissimilarities between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. That’s what got me into it,” he said.

Having realized his interest in the history of the Middle East and religious theory, Lindsay went to the University of Wisconsin where he received his Ph.D.

Lindsay recently completed another book co-authored with Suleiman Mourad, a professor of religion at Smith College, called “The Radicalization of Jihad Ideology in the Crusader Period.”

Lindsay said he hopes it will be published by the end of this year.

Staff writer K.C. Fleming can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 7:29 pm

CSU men’s golf wins MWC championship

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May 092010
Authors: Adam Bohlmeyer

Jamie Bermel thought his team could win this weekend, but never imagined it would happen like this.

The CSU Rams men’s golf team won the Mountain West Conference Championship in Tucson, Arizona this weekend and broke a record in the process. The Rams led from beginning to end, finishing the competition shooting a combined 834 (-18) –– a MWC tournament record –– and 15 strokes ahead of second place San Diego State.

CSU head coach Jamie Bermel said he never doubted his team’s ability to win the tournament, but didn’t expect them to pull off a blow out.

“Well I thought it would be a fight all the way down to the last hole,” the 11-year Rams coach said. “We just kept plugging along and kept making birdies. Before I knew it, we were up by six and then 10. It wasn’t much of a match those last six holes.”

A stellar performance from Ryan Peterson powered CSU during the weekend. The sophomore posted a three round score of 205 (-8) and won the tournament’s individual first place title by two strokes.

Peterson said he was surprised by his success, especially after playing with a cut on his pointer finger. The Minnesota native explained that he really struggled in the pre-tournament practice round.

“I didn’t really feel good going into the tournament, “Peterson said. “I went there, stuck it out and did my practice round. I stayed focused and told myself I could do it.”

Seniors Bryce Hanstad and Riley Arp also turned in solid performances for the Rams, finishing fourth and fifth while shooting 207 (-6) and 206 (-5), respectively.

Hanstad said he was proud of Peterson’s performance.

“Ryan (Peterson) has had some good finishes this spring for us, and his confidence just shot through the roof to where he’s become a regular in the lineup,” Hanstad said. “We’ve been waiting for him to break through, and this was a big win for his confidence. Hopefully we can keep it going into regionals.”

CSU’s victory marks their second MWC title in the last three years. The Rams took home the championship in 2008 before finishing a disappointing 23 in the regional tournament.

Bermel and Peterson agreed that Rams’ hot streak gives the team a tremendous amount of momentum. With a victory this weekend, CSU has won two straight tournaments heading into the NCAA Regional tournament scheduled for May 21-23.

Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 7:20 pm

Students biking across America for a cause

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May 092010
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

While most students spend the summer relaxing, Nick Leone and Joey Stassi will embark on a 4,000-mile trek across America –– on their bikes.

Hosted by Push America, Pi Kappa Phi fraternity’s national philanthropy, The Journey of Hope is designed to raise money for organizations that support individuals with severe disabilities. Leone and Stassi, along with 90 other Pi Kappa Phi members nationwide, were required to raise at least $5,000 for the cause.

June 5 marks the day when the two CSU business majors leave home for Seattle, Washington, where they’ll kick off the Trans-America route of the bike ride. The Journey of Hope begins at three separate locations on the West Coast, and all teams come together in Washington D.C. on Aug. 14.

The road to D.C. can be rough, Leone said, and in the past guys who’ve taken spills “get stitched up and keep riding.” A van follows behind the group in case of serious injuries or bike problems.

With just a backpack, a duffle bag and a bike, Leone and Stassi hit more than 50 cities to spend time with disabled people.

On the route, Leone said, the riders will distribute 17 grants ranging from $500 to $5,000 to keep their host organizations up and running.

The team will also make a pit stop in Fort Collins for the 4th of July where both will share stories of the journey.

Push America founded the Journey of Hope in 1987, and Leone said CSU’s chapter of Pi Kappa Phi has participated for the past 10 years. The driving force for dedicating his summer to service, he said, was working with local disabled service organizations and a presentation about the event at an Alternative Spring Break in Texas.

Despite his lack of training, Leone said, he is excited to spend time with the communities he will visit.

For Stassi it’s not only about personal accomplishment but helping others.

So far he has raised $3,800 and said students who want to contribute can text PUSH199 to 550555 and donate $5.

Leone has raised $4,250 in donations and said students interested in adding to his fund can text PUSH270 to 50555 to help him meet his goal.

News Editor Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 7:18 pm

Rancher advocates for higher ed accessibility

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May 092010
Authors: Madeline Novey

Clarification: The article reports that CSU System Board of Governors Chair Patrick McConathy opposes Senate Bill 3. McConathy opposed the original draft of the bill but supports the legislation as it stands today.

Patrick McConathy is a member of two markedly different governing boards at two institutions of higher education.

As a member of the Board of Trustees at Middlebury College in Vermont, McConathy says raising tuition and maintaining the college’s brand are common discussions. And while supportive of Middlebury’s mission –– all three of his sons attended the private liberal arts college –– McConathy says what goes on in Middlebury’s board meetings doesn’t translate to CSU.

As chair of the CSU System Board of Governors at a land-grant university like CSU, McConathy says it’s about accessibility and affordability. With both these ideas, he says he’s obsessed.

McConathy’s father went bankrupt his junior year of high school. And if it were not for the principles upheld by land-grant universities, he would have never attended Louisiana State University in the 1970s.

Years later, sitting at Starbucks on College Avenue and Horsetooth Road, McConathy says in his southern drawl that he never thought he’d chair CSU’s board. “I didn’t want to be on this board,” he said. “I didn’t ask to be on this board.”

But after being appointed as a member of the board in November of 2007 and spending countless hours at each of CSU’s campuses, whether at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins for his wife’s injured horses or at CSU-Pueblo talking with faculty and students, he says he has grown to understand and love all that is CSU.

Up to this point

McConathy grew up in Louisiana, an area he says he loves and hates because it never changes. He played basketball and baseball. His dad was both a coach and a marine, a bad combo, he says.

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Louisiana State University in 1975, McConathy says people often told him he should go to law school. “I thought it was a compliment,” he says, chuckling.

After being wait-listed at Tulane University’s law school, his aunt’s husband, an oil and gas man, gave him a book about the industry. McConathy says he loved the risk taking, the possibility of having nothing and then millions.

In 1975, he started as a petroleum landman for the Placid Oil Co. in Shreveport, Louisiana before starting McConathy & Associates in 1977 that operated wells in several states.

After marrying his wife Patricia in 1976, the 80s were about his first son Chad, political campaigns and saving lives.
From 1980 to 1986 he ran Buddy Roemer’s congressional campaign and then his gubernatorial campaign in 1987. That year, Roemer beat incumbent Edwin Edwards for the governor’s seat in Louisiana.

And from 1984 to 1986, McConathy bought an oil drill, gathered a few volunteers and went to Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. There, he and his team drilled water wells for the natives who had no infrastructure in place to gather it themselves.

“There was a lot of death,” McConathy says, his brown eyes full of pain. He is reliving the memory of a child dying in his arms from dehydration.

“You could hear the women at night just wail” as their children died, he says. And later, he would go home at night to find his children alive and well.

Back in the United States, though Roemer did some things right, he did some things wrong. In 1989, Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke beat Edwards out for Louisiana governor, prompting McConathy to move his family to Santa Fe in 1990.

A year later, the McConathy family moved to the Vail Valley where all three boys skied, a sport that would earn them spots on the U.S. Ski Team and later Middlebury’s ski team.

Now McConathy and his wife Patricia live in McCoy on a ranch.

In a restored 1896 farmhouse, they host leadership conferences, community events and program called Wounded Veterans that McConathy calls heart restoration for U.S. veterans of war. Twenty weeks out of the year the farmhouse is open to veterans who want to fish the Colorado River and ride the McConathy’s horses.

On higher education and the board

There is no such thing as private and public institutions of higher education, McConathy says. All of America’s universities and colleges are changing their models as they face budget cuts and decreased state funding.

“I don’t want to keep slashing and burning,” he says, squinting through his sunglasses, but that’s the reality. There’s no money.

McConathy says he opposes Senate Bill 3, which seeks to raise $300 million out of the pockets of parents and students to fund higher education. But there is hope in that he thinks the bill Gov. Bill Ritter will sign will look markedly different.

While unsure of the future of state funding, he says he doesn’t “believe there’s people in the legislature that have it in for higher education.”

Legislators have their hands tied. No one is going take funding from prisons, Medicaid or Medicare and certainly not K-12, which McConathy says is a stepping-stone to higher education.

And while times are tough, McConathy says the system can find solace in the leadership of CSU-Fort Collins President Tony Frank and CSU-Pueblo President Joe Garcia.

“We couldn’t be luckier … they’re loved,” he says.

Even with great leadership, McConathy says there’s a disconnect between the CSU community and the board. But the most offensive thing, in his mind, is when the board receives criticism for not listening to students, particularly in the case of concealed carry on campus.

Appointed board chair in June 2009, McConathy says he would go anywhere and meet with anyone.

“I would rather do that than anything,” he said.

Though the board sometimes disagrees with students, it and McConathy always want to know how students are affected by its decisions, Associated Students of CSU President Dan Gearhart said.

Fellow board members, CSU administrators and student leaders said McConathy is not the type of person who would say one thing and do another.

They described McConathy as someone who is enthusiastic, passionate, gregarious, happy-go-lucky, able to connect people from different backgrounds and ideologies, often through humor, and has a huge heart and tremendous passion for helping others.

He is dedicated to the CSU system and all of its divisions, CSU-Fort Collins President Tony Frank said in an e-mail to the Collegian.

“ … He takes extraordinary time out of a tremendously busy schedule to devote to the leadership of the CSU’s Board, and he brings a personal commitment and energy to all of the system and board’s activities,” Frank said.

Though he’s only served a short time on the board with McConathy, Voting Member Joe Zimilch said it’s apparent McConathy’s excitement for the university he serves.

Each time he visits another, he “becomes an evangelist for different programs,” Zimilch said.

At first, Gearhart said, McConathy said that he didn’t know what he was doing as the board’s top leader. Over time, however, this ignorance has faded.

“ … CSU and the CSU System is in amazing hands,” Gearhart said. “I have no doubt about that,” he said.

Editor in Chief Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Name: Patrick McConathy
Work: owns Yarmony Energy, serves as chair of the CSU System Board of Governors
Age: 57
Family: Wife, Patricia, sons, Chad, 30, Will, 29, and Andrew, 27
Favorite book: Whatever I am reading at the present time or just read recently –– like “Why the Mighty Fail” by Jim Collins
Favorite beer: When I drank, any micro brew
Favorite food: Louisiana seafood: oysters, shrimp …
Favorite music/artist: Robert Earl Keen, U2, The Contribution and my son Andrew McConathy
Life mantra: It is not what the world does to you that determines whether you succeed or fail, but what you do to yourself that matters most.
Role model: My Dad
Hobbies: Cycling, horses, skiing and reading
Most memorable experience while in college: Not for print or publication

 Posted by at 7:14 pm

Electronic billing in Fall 2010

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May 092010
Authors: Madeline Novey

CSU is launching an electronic billing system and one payment due date for each semester starting this fall in order to save money and the environment.

As one of student government President Dan Gearhart and Vice President Tim Hole’s campaign promises, the e-billing system will send e-mail notifications to students at their rams.colostate.edu address when their monthly billing statements are ready to view on RAMweb, according to an e-mail from Student Financial Services employee Christie Leighton.

Students have the option to create an additional e-mail account if they want parents or others to receive the same notification and view their statements online. Students can create an e-billing address during registration and maintain it on RAMweb.

Also starting Fall 2010, students will receive a bill in August for tuition, student fees, residence hall charges, health insurance and other institutional charges. This bill is due on Sept. 10. Anything billed on a subsequent statement is due the 10th of the following month.

Generating the fall university billing statements in August will allow financial aid to appear on the first statement of the semester, Leighton said in the e-mail. The same is true of the spring semester during which the statement will be generated in January, instead of December. The new due date for this bill is February.

Under the change, students and their families can start paying their bill one month later and provide a presentation of educational expenses on their 1098-T tax forms.

For more information, contact Student Financial Services in Centennial Hall or call (970) 491-6321.

Editor in chief Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 7:09 pm

Fort Collins Food Diaries: Finishing the last bite: Our last column

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May 092010
Authors: Madeline Novey, Michael Kalush

More than a dozen columns and several thousand calories later, it’s finally here: our last food column.

After graduation and one last summer class, Mike’s headed to Spain for an internship and Madeline’s got one more year at CSU. And while it’s not decided yet, the column may make a comeback.

And with the future looming on the edge of our plates, we were looking back at how this whole endeavor evolved. Neither of us knew the other until, one day, Mike shared the sumptuous beauty that was the Spanish tapas scene –– dozens of dishes of meats and seafood shared among groups.

From there, we discovered our shared passion for everything edible –– well, almost everything –– and set out to find most interesting culinary tales in the Choice City.

With that, here’s our last words of foodie wisdom, or whatever you want to call it.

Madeline –– This year has been rough, between classes and long hours at the paper. While stressful as it often was to meet deadline, the food column was a relief, an outlet that harmoniously combined my passions of writing and eating.

Every two weeks –– there are a few exceptions –– Mike and I had the privilege to go out and sit down with fantastic people –– owners, chefs, wait staff. We listened to stories of how their passions came to fruition. We were almost always dissecting an array of dishes, food behind and often in front of our smiles, as we did so.

With this, I leave you with an interesting idea. Saturday night, I watched a special episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” (refer to our December column) called “Food Porn.” The idea’s simple: Humans respond similarly to food and sex ––they get excited.

So the next time you think about getting food, think about what excites you, what you want to eat. Experiment with flavors and combinations and try new things. You never know what reaction you’ll get.

Mike –– Sit down, relax and enjoy your food. If I learned anything important from working here at the Collegian, it’s to take time to relax.

With the stress of life, finals and work there’s no better way to ease the tension than to sit down, at a table, with a buddy and enjoy some decent food. Try not to eat on the go no matter how busy you are, it makes the chaotic lives we live a bit more tolerable.

I guess now is my chance to share with you my little wisdom that I’ve gained over these last few years. Remember to stick to your roots.

The world’s greatest chef/cook is usually only a phone call away, your grandmother. And if you didn’t remember to call them Sunday (Mother’s Day) then call them right now and thank me for reminding you.

Don’t walk into an empty restaurant. The dive spots that usually seem a bit grubby don’t stay in business by poisoning their clients (thanks, Anthony Bourdain).

Experiment, don’t be afraid to eat something you’ve never heard of and don’t be a wimp about it. Go on a date to a tapas-style restaurant, sharing food can be the best way to get to know someone. And most importantly, don’t eat yellow snow now matter how much it looks like a slushy.

_Staff photographer Michael Kalush and Editor in Chief Madeline Novey can be reached at verve@collegian.com. _

 Posted by at 7:07 pm

Undie Run sees record numbers

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May 092010
Authors: Rachel Childs

An excited air filled the cold Friday night as students congregated on the Lory Student Center Plaza in questionable garb. It was too late for a football game and too obvious to be a party.

Time passed, it was almost 11 p.m. The area quickly erupted into a frenzy of giggles and shouts.

A deafening scream signaled that it was the time. A slow chant began and grew faster.

“Undie Run. Undie Run. Undie Run.”

A flurry of shirts and pants flew into the air to reveal both creative and disturbing undergarments.

This was the third Annual CSU Undie Run, a tradition that blends fun and philanthropy into a night of chaos and camaraderie.

“It was a good portion bigger than last year,” said Undie Run organization President Chandler Stewart.

The group collected 80 trash bags full of clothing at the end of the night from the estimated 1,500 students who participated. Last year, about 700 to 800 people turned out for the event.

“The amount of quality clothing we received for Haiti and Chile was beyond my expectations,” said co-creator Michele Hynes, in an e-mail to the Collegian.

Participants were equally as happy.

“It’s just awesome,” said participant Corissa Venrick, who sported mismatched underwear and threw condoms to other runners.

Girls put on their sexiest lingerie, as did the men. Others sported costumes, from thong-wearing fairies to diaper-wearing man-babies.

Sophomore Robbie Gallagher chose to fight the cold in a fuzzy gorilla suit and blue boxer shorts. He, like most, came to find release from upcoming stress of finals.

“It’s nice because I don’t have to use it too often,” Gallagher said about his costume.

At 11 p.m., the mass of half-naked students flooded past the Engineering Building and into the streets.

Skin and the smell of vodka floated down Laurel Street as passerby ogled the herd of unruly college youth galloping without inhibitions.

Juniors Brooke McConnell and Audra Snyder saw the panty parade from their home on Meldrum Street.

“I just saw a mass amount of skin out,” McConnell said. “I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Many people took the opportunity to run into the road as the lights turned red. Drivers honked at the scene, confused at the hoard of pant-free adults who were trailed by police.

Participants made their way back to the Plaza after 20 minutes. The crowd flooded into the library until CSU police evacuated them.

“I thank everyone who came out donated and helped clean up after. A successful night to say the least,” Hynes said.

Staff writer Rachel Childs can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 7:05 pm

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May 092010
Authors: Compiled by Alexandra Sieh

To the guy drinking a PBR in my 10 a.m. history class: Hang in there buddy, we’re almost done.

To the person who called RamRide to the library on a Thursday at 8:30: That’s just sad.

I wonder if the girl in the white shirt and the rainbow bra compiled this outfit on purpose.

I typed “F” into Google on a library computer, and the first two hits were Facebook and Front Range Community College. Coincidence?

How to avoid the walk of shame after the Undie Run: Have your mom pick you up.

I’m ashamed of how excited I got when I received a coupon for a free BlueBook.

 Posted by at 7:01 pm

A pressing question: What is diversity?

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May 092010
Authors: Aaron Hedge

Ethnic studies majors bustled through the hallway on the third floor of the southeast end of Aylesworth Hall Wednesday, as Eric Ishiwata hurried into a study room and asked a woman to forward him an e-mail from student government saying the new leaders were doing away with the office of diversity and outreach.

The e-mail, sent by vice president-elect for the Associated Students of CSU, Jennifer Babos, says the incoming administration will discontinue the office due to budget restraints.

Ishiwata’s request for the e-mail, which he later sent to the Collegian, immediately followed a conversation in his office at the end of the hallway with a student, Chigozie Okocha, about their desires for a comprehensive revamp in the way CSU recruits and retains its minority students.

Talking with Okocha, Ishiwata said CSU must work “… to become as diverse and integrated as all of their photos show CSU. … Make efforts to make CSU look the way you’re advertising it, and I’ll call it good.”

The professor, who teaches race and ethnicity policy courses, said the department floor acts as a safe haven for a select population of ethnic minority students and their sympathizers.

“Look down the hall here,” he said. “Our hall is like a refugee center.”

There are many places on campus –– various advocacy offices and residence halls dedicated to accommodating diverse students –– where CSU’s minority populations can find solace.

But with CSU looking at creating an administrative position charged with integrating diversity efforts at the university and boosting the health of its minority population, Ishiwata said those places on campus might not be needed.

“Ultimately, we’re gonna be able to develop a culture of mutual respect at CSU where you don’t have these refugee centers,” he said.

Numerous campus community members and diversity experts interviewed for this report including Ishiwata, however, say it’s not a simple road to that goal.

Simply in terms of race

Okocha came to CSU in the wake of the academic tenure of his sister, who created Africans United, and, in that shadow, felt compelled to champion diversity issues on campus.

“Just how driven she was kind of instilled in me a hard work ethic, and I’ve always wanted to just surpass her in any way I could,” he said in an interview.

So when he came to CSU three years ago to pursue his degree in political science, Okocha immediately got involved in the campus’s diversity programming, eventually becoming the president of the United Men of Color and establishing his role as a leader who wishes to expand the definition of diversity past the concept of race.

“People always want to default to racial diversity,” he said, “and … you cannot talk about racial issues without talking about gender issues and talking about sexuality and talking about disability. These are underrepresented issues that for the most part aren’t being addressed at all. At all.”

On the surface, the organization, especially seen solely through the lens of its name, might be viewed as one that aims to unite men of color on CSU’s campus. But Okocha’s mission as this year’s president is to establish a sense of community between men of all races on campus, including the white ones, who he sees as just as diverse as those of any minority.

He wants to make them “better men,” he says –– illustrating that desire by deriding profanity in the meetings and sparking discussions about the men’s respective roles in CSU’s culture –– and reintroduce them, and the CSU community, to an often overlooked definition of diversity.

The problem is one that many on campus say should have been addressed long ago.

A decade ago, CSU’s entire student body was an even 11 percent culturally diverse, according to university demographic reports. Since then, it has increased by 2.6 percent to 13.6 percent, a figure Blane Harding, an adviser in the College of Liberal Arts, says starkly exemplifies CSU’s continued racial homogeneity.

“To me, that’s nothing,” Harding said. “That’s absolutely nothing.”

So in light of CSU President Tony Frank’s latest administrative brainchild, a separation of the Diversity branch of the Office of Equal Opportunity after former director of that office Dana Hiatt retired last semester, Harding and a number of other community members say he should be commended.

The position will align the university with many of its peers nationally, including the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, which is looking to add a full-time staff of five to the very same office, Harding said.

But the initiative comes with a host of questions about the way CSU markets itself as a diverse community: is it honest? Does it do a good job in retaining minority students? At CSU, does the term “diversity” describe rigid boundaries between races, genders, classes and levels of physical abilities? Or is it more complex?

Four university employees are currently vying for the VP position. The person who fills it will oversee every area of CSU’s diversity operations. But the full force of the university’s staff that works with minority populations lies with seemingly countless offices and organizations, from top-level administration to the minutest student-led think tank.

A grassroots effort

Dylan Gallacher, a junior sociology major at CSU, made his way through the thick crowds in the hallways of Poudre High School during a Thursday lunch break last month.

He stopped at the groups that had gathered in the corners and against the sepia-tone walls to tell their members why they should apply to CSU, and if not, another university or college.

“We got four applications,” he said, as the students started to file back in to their classrooms for the next period.

This brought his initiative –– called the DREAM Project, which is a spinoff of a program started at the University of Washington that aims to promote a higher education to underrepresented high schools –– to between 12 and 15 signed applications.

Looking a bit downtrodden by the small number of applications, which a group of CSU students, who call themselves “The DREAM Team,” have been gathering since the beginning of the semester, Gallacher chatted with Isabel Thacker, one of the school’s counselors about the progress.

The WU program is said to be incredibly successful, but it had a full five years before it was fully implemented, whereas the one at CSU only had the semester.

“It’s just hard with staff turnover and teachers leaving every year to get this name built for your program,” Gallacher said in an interview before the recruiting effort.

Later, sitting in her office decorated by service awards and family photos, Thacker said that despite Gallacher’s disappointment, the widespread enthusiasm for the project among the school’s administrators will be justified.

Recruiting programs sometimes take decades to take strong root in an academic community, Thacker said.

The need for CSU students to work with local minority high school students is obvious, she said. And that need is exemplified in numbers reported by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems: Colorado has by far the largest college achievement gap between white students and minority students at 24.6 percent.

Part of the problem stems from education cuts across the board. Schools’ budgets grow thinner by the month.

As a result of recent funding shortfalls, Thacker alone advises more than 300 high school students, a burden Gallacher and the DREAM Team, which is comprised of a number of other students, are trying to alleviate.

“The counselors are just swamped, so busy beyond belief,” Gallacher said.

Making it worse, in the current economic circumstances, the state is anticipated to have one of the country’s fastest increases in jobs that require college degrees in the next few years, according to experts.

“These statistics are alarming,” said Paul Thayer, the associate vice president for student affairs at CSU, during a meeting with representatives of the university’s Alliance high schools. “There’s no way to argue that. They are alarming.”

Thayer’s presentation to the schools showed that Hispanic and black students in Colorado have a far lower high school graduation rate than that of whites and Asians. It came before an announcement by several state higher education officials, including Mary Ontiveros, the vice president for enrollment and access at CSU, that they will conduct an audit of the Alliance schools in which they will ask students and teachers about the health of their interactions.

The audit follows one conducted in New Zealand by Tom Cavanaugh, a professor at Walden University who did his dissertation at CSU, about the gap in academic achievement in underrepresented populations, that showed native students have a lower success rate.

Efforts following the New Zealand survey resulted in higher levels of academic achievement for minority high school students there, and Cavanaugh said local high school educators are optimistic about the effort having the same effect in Colorado.

It is these initiatives Gallacher says is so important to establish continuity of action between the administration and the student body.

Realizing the American dream through an education

Thacker remembers looking out a porthole –– the diameter of which was as long as her 9-year-old body was tall –– in a cargo ship that carried her, her mother and her siblings across the Gulf of Mexico in 1963.

The ship’s cargo consisted of prisoners of war from the Bay of Pigs invasion and the final commerce items between the U.S. and Cuba after Fidel Castro’s regime took over in that country.

Behind her was her father’s death as an influential figure in Castro’s administration who was murdered for his rebellion. Ahead was a life in the U.S. where she was certain to lose her identity, denouncing Cuba’s communist proclivities, as well as her language, culture and family, most of whom died without her ever seeing them again.

After she graduated high school in Kansas with a 1.94 grade point average, she went to work for a meat packing plant, never expecting to obtain a college degree.

“I thought I was stupid,” she said in an interview. “… It was tough. It was really tough. I was a teenager while learning to speak English, dealing with incredible cultural conflict with my mom.”

But after more than a decade of that lifestyle, she decided to attend Kansas Teacher’s School, now Emporia State University, and eventually transferred to CSU where she graduated with honors and a bachelor’s degree in social work and went on to obtain her master’s in education.

Since then, she has been an integral figure in the education of minority students, in the Fort Collins area, including at CSU, where she has done work for El Centro and other Hispanic organizations on campus.

But her academic success would have been impossible without a helping hand, and that, she said, is where students like Gallacher come in for many students at PHS.

Now, plagued by state education budget cuts resulting in thin counseling staffs and dwindling funds for scholarships for minorities, high school employees like Thacker are forced to find creative ways to get their underrepresented students into college.

A systemic problem

Thacker was criticized by local media in 2007, during the heat of the national illegal immigration debate, for finding a resident status policy loophole at the University of New Mexico that allowed children of illegal immigrants full scholarships, when they would have had to pay full out-of-state tuition at CSU –– the university right down the street.

The coverage deeply troubled Thacker, who still tears up when she thinks about it.

“It was all over the news and all over the radio. … I was getting calls at home,” she said, her voice cracking. “It’s incredible how hurtful trying to do something good can be.”

UNM eventually determined the scholarship legal, and though Thacker was asked to resign, she was able to keep her job, and she goes on working with the hundreds of students at PHS who need assistance applying for college.

“I know for me, personally, it was nice when somebody sat next to me and helped me through the process,” Thacker said.
And while most students don’t have the problem of lacking documentation, Okocha says legal and socioeconomic systems that disable minority students from obtaining a college degree are what need to be examined.

“Colleges have gone to the high schools and said, ‘Come to college.’ But then there’s certain situations that wouldn’t allow a student of color … to come to college,” he said. “I still think we’re not addressing the root question: Why aren’t students able to come to CSU?”

University officials expect the new VP of diversity position to eliminate any redundancies in its diversity missions and work with existing organizations to bring their visions to fruition.

Whether similar positions at other universities do any good at increasing diverse populations is debatable, but many remain hopeful that it will help.

Harding says CSU must make itself more available to underrepresented students –– through scholarships, accurate advertising and racial fostering programs –– because that mission is essential to its identity.

Until now, CSU’s road to diversity has only lent itself to trial and error.

“Especially since we’re the land grant institution of the state, we should be the choice of (diverse) students … because that’s the whole purpose of a land grant institution,” he said. “But we’re not.”

Projects Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 6:59 pm

A devastating illness, an untimely departure

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on A devastating illness, an untimely departure
May 092010
Authors: Johnny Hart

Less than three weeks from today, Mandy Harvey will stare down the aisle of the LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, looking at her soon-to-be husband Greg Bland. The wedding, set for May 29, will be just another chapter in Harvey’s life.

But just four years ago, the rising northern Colorado jazz vocalist stood looking at a darker, more confusing crossroads.
Then a CSU freshman, Harvey spent the first months of her spring semester slipping into silence until her hearing finally “pooped out” in February 2007.

The budding music education major had gone deaf, a fate she’d faced since her first diagnosis the previous September.
As her disability surfaced, Harvey was launched into one of CSU’s least visible minority groups: students with disabilities.

About 1,000 students on campus have a disability, but only about 500 have visited the offices of Resources for Disabled Students, said director Rose Kreston. The number of students, however, may be higher because students may not report their disabilities –– some don’t even know they have one.

Harvey had unwillingly become a part of one of CSU’s diverse communities. But her circumstance was unique itself, as her situation was “unprecedented” for the CSU music department that housed her, said former CSU professor and Harvey’s longtime voice teacher Cynthia Vaughn in an e-mail.

“Everyone took a wait-and-see approach until the end of the year, and as Mandy’s world became silent, she was advised by a somber faculty … that she would need to pursue a degree which was not heavily dependent on hearing skills,” Vaughn said.

Harvey’s situation is an extreme example of the harsh realities that disabled students –– indeed, students in all minority groups –– face.

With mix of personal devastation and a music curriculum that could not accommodate her loss of hearing, Harvey would leave CSU, her dreams of graduating with a music degree shattered.

Losing an uphill battle

For the final months of her freshman year at CSU, Harvey had slipped into a deep depression, often not leaving her Allison Hall dorm room for days at a time.

“When Mandy lost her hearing rapidly over her few months of college, she was devastated. Her hearing continued to deteriorate weekly, so that one week she could hear a professor well enough to keep up with the course and the next week she could not,” said Vaughn, who worked as a voice professor at CSU during Harvey’s time on campus.

Vaughn said Harvey had been “admitted to a highly selective program” at CSU with only 15 freshman vocal students “in a degree that is based in large part on hearing.”

Harvey, who calls herself a “firm believer in God” and who never swears, cursed to the heavens.

“The first time I ever cursed in my life was during my funk at CSU,” she said. “One day I was just so pissed off, I just was like ‘F you, God.’”

Once her hearing completely went, Harvey’s parents wanted to bring her home. But she stayed, determined to finish the semester, which Harvey would struggle with mightily.

“The last couple months of school I didn’t really do that much. I kind of got really depressed and locked myself in my room for two weeks,” she said.

Only making her problems worse, she said she’d neither remembered nor heard of any other deaf vocalists, especially ones going to school for vocal performance or education.

Issues with her classes arose earlier in the semester, when she returned from winter break to a music-intensive course load.

In music theory, Harvey said she could not do dictation –– the process of hearing a played note, and, without looking at the instrument, recognizing its value.

“I couldn’t see how dictation and listening to the piano was so huge (compared to) most things I could have done with theory class,” she said. “And it wasn’t able to be catered in any way.”

Without a different accommodation, Harvey said she would fail the course as dictation accounted for 40 percent of the class grade.

Too, Harvey said she was not able to take another course, music history, because she could not listen to and recognize pieces composed by different artists in different eras of music.

She later added, “Again, I think there is a lot of music history that I could have learned without any sound at all.”

Because of her situation, both Harvey and Vaughn said professors in the department formed two camps: those who expected Harvey to be OK and do the work load without issue, and those who questioned Harvey being in the department and advised her to drop her courses.

Harvey said she became frustrated with both sides because neither was helping her address her loss of hearing.

“Since there was no precedent for a music student becoming deaf, some professors under-reacted (expecting her to keep up with all lectures and assignments) while others overreacted (advising her to drop all of her music classes),” Vaughn said. “Both responses were extreme, but Mandy herself was figuring out what her own limits were on a day-to-day basis.”

Harvey said: “When you have a situation where neither party really understands how to deal with the situation, it’s not good, and it seems horribly unfair to both sides. I don’t want to say something that would make it seem like I hated (the music department) because they just didn’t understand what to do.”

Despite one professor advocating to alter the music theory course without dictation as Harvey was becoming acclimated to her condition, learning American Sign Language, Harvey was dropped from the class, which she said she happened after a conversation and without her consent.

“You get a system that’s so used for so many years, and you have a person that doesn’t fit the mold, and they can’t figure out how to shove you into that mold instead of trying to reshape,” Harvey said.

And though she said she wouldn’t have been in the right “emotional place” to continue with music education, Harvey would have taken on a larger homework load or some other compromise to pass the course.

“I never signed any papers to end that class,” Harvey said. “I was overwhelmed, I was seriously depressed and I pretty much gave up with that class. So it ended up being the best move to not be there.”

The Collegian was not able to determine whether a teacher dropped Harvey from the course because class records are protected by federal rules for student privacy rights, but department chair Todd Queen said teachers don’t have that ability.

“A teacher cannot drop a student from a class. The student only has that ability,” Queen said in a phone interview. “Mandy would have had to drop that class on her own. We can give them a grade, but teachers cannot drop students from a class.”

Queen, who was a voice teacher during Harvey’s senior year, said Harvey’s situation never escalated beyond her and her professors.

“(Harvey’s) situation never went to the departmental level, so I’m not sure that the department really has anything official to say on the matter. We certainly are proud of the accomplishments that Mandy has achieved and wish her much success,” Queen said in an e-mail.

Queen and his colleagues were more involved in “helping Mandy on an individual level.”

RDS director Kreston said no university department lawfully has to make accommodations for students who are disabled if they determine the student to “unqualified” to do the coursework.

“It’s possible that some people think that she can’t teach (music),” Kreston said.

Harvey agreed.

“I would want do something that I could feel confident in doing 100 percent of my job,” Harvey said. “For education in music, to be fair to (students), you need to be able to hear. You need to be able to correct them. You need to be on top of your game. And I can’t do that for them.”

Harvey said that though she was partly upset that she couldn’t finish her schoolwork in four years, part of her is happy because that’s not where she was supposed to be.

“Part of (me) was like, ‘I paid for that education, and you didn’t get it.’ The other part of me was like, ‘What would I have expected them to do, give me my hearing back?’” Harvey said.

She added, “If (my situation) would have happened at any other school, it would have been exactly the same. Nobody knew what to do. So it’s not that I was pissed off at the people (involved), I was pissed off at the whole thing …”

Trying to keep the disabled going

CSU’s Office of Equal Opportunity is charged with “implementing, monitoring and evaluating programs, activities and procedures that support” access in the university’s “educational, scholarly and outreach activities,” according to the office’s website.

Roselyn Cutler, the interim director of the OEO, said the university is far and away above its peers in those areas and its resources for students.

“I think we do very well in accommodating students. I think we’ve always been ahead of the curve in accommodation,” Cutler said, adding, “We can usually find an appropriate and reasonable accommodation (for students).”

Along with OEO, CSU offers assistance for disabled students through RDS, which collaborates “with students, instructors, staff, and community members to create useable, equitable, inclusive and sustainable learning environments,” and the Assistive Technology Resource Center, which “ensures equal access to technology and electronic information for Colorado State University students and employees with disabilities,” according to their websites.

“It blows me away, the amount of resources we have (at CSU),” Cutler said.

In her 30 years on campus, Kreston only remembers one case in which a student took the university to court over access and resources, and she said the university won.

Cutler, who said about one complaint a month from disabled students comes through OEO, said most grievances filed by students or professors to her office are a result of a break in communication.

“Oftentimes the problem is a lack of understanding of the amount of resources and what we are able to do,” Cutler said.
Harvey, who did not file a grievance, did utilize the university’s interpreters but found a communication breakdown.

Sometimes, she said, interpreters would have a hard time keeping up with both the lecture and students asking questions, and there was a “huge gap” between “horrible” interpreters and “great” interpreters. Too, Harvey felt mocked by her fellow students because she needed an interpreter.

“I want something that caters to me so I don’t feel stupid when I’m sitting in classes,” Harvey said, later adding, “I think the whole thing is flawed.”

In Harvey’s music courses, interpreters were especially unable to help communicate topics to her.

Vaughn said, “In Mandy’s case this assistance was of limited help because she had not yet learned ASL, and lecture note-takers were not enough for her to keep up in highly specialized classes such as music theory.”

According to the book “Raising and Educating a Deaf Child,” graduation rates for deaf students at four-year universities is about 30 percent, compared to 70 percent among their hearing peers.

Harvey’s fiancé Greg Bland, who is also deaf, said this is because of “communication breakdowns.”

Bland used the example of a friend learning the word “hubris” in his humanities course. When the interpreter heard the word “hubris,” he signed “pride” –– the word’s definition. Because American Sign Language communicates in concepts, rather than long phrases with filler words like English, come test time Bland’s friend could not answer the question because it asked for the Greek word for “pride,” “hubris.”

“There’s a lot of information pieces that are dropped out,” Harvey said. “… The interpreter doesn’t use English vocab. They use ASL language. It has its own grammar, its own language.”

Like Harvey, Bland felt a break in communication when he attended CU-Boulder. After flunking out of his first go around at CU, Bland came back and “challenged the system” by asking for everything to be written out, everything spoken to be in print.

“(Getting everything in text is) something that, when I go back to finish my degree … I’m going to demand,” Harvey said, “because if everybody who has their hearing is benefitting from all the information and I’m not, I shouldn’t be paying the same tuition.”

Harvey and Bland also suggested professors could create two lecture plans when needed, one for hearing students and one for hearing impaired students, along with adding more office hours, but both said they thought these changes may not be feasible.

In the future Harvey hopes to return to a university, though she doesn’t believe any programs are ready to accept a deaf vocalist yet. But for now she’s working on her wedding –– and her music.

Her debut vocal jazz album, “Smile,” dropped last fall, and she frequently plays Jay’s Bistro in Old Town. With two more albums in the making, Harvey’s well on her way to creating five albums before she turns 30.

But she takes life day by day, practicing her speech every morning and focusing on remembering what she once could hear.

“I could wake up tomorrow and not remember how to do everything that I do now. Once I can’t remember, it’s gone,” she said. “So I just want to do as much I can now, and then when I have grandkids I can be like, ‘This is what I did. That’s me. Wasn’t I awesome? Hell, yeah!’”

Managing Editor Johnny Hart can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 6:47 pm