Sep 232010
Authors: Phoenix MourningStar

Every year, thousands of dollars are collected from students in the form of student fees. These monies go to a variety of allocations –– from supporting technology to funding student government activities. Each year a large portion of these funds are open for student groups to apply for to promote their own programs and engage the community in their activities and hopefully educate and bring students together.

Having attended a number of events during my time here at CSU, I’ve seen a lot of events take place that are incredibly deserving of the support of our student fees and the supplementary funds from the university. Being a winter snow sport addict before coming here, I’d love to see more support secured for the ski club and snowboard teams. As a student of the sciences, I’d love to see photos of one of our many student science organizations presenting their joint-interdisciplinary research in front of a Congressional panel in Washington, D.C.

At the same time, there aren’t too many better uses of our fees than those activities we fund that are held right here on campus that bring people from outside of Fort Collins and Larimer County and showcases CSU up close and personal.

If you remember this time last year there was some significant attention paid to the challenges brought up against funding the Native American Cultural Center’s Annual Pow Wow. Historically, Pow Wows are festive occasions honoring Native American traditions, social ties and unity. This year, the theme is incredibly appropriate: “Embracing our roots, strengthening our community, weaving all nations.”

Diversity has been a huge issue here at CSU in recent times. Last year a new position of vice president for Diversity was announced. This year being the 10th anniversary of the Diversity Conference, there have been numerous opportunities to learn and engage in discussions about what diversity on a university campus means, why diversity is important and how important it is to have people from various ethnicities, backgrounds, interests and ideals to enrich the education and experience of everyone. I think its just as important that conferences such as this bring out the challenges and critical need to ensure that people feel included and part of a community.

Walking around CSU, with a population that is more than, what, 85 percent white? After three or four semesters, it can be easy to begin to think the world is white. Yet, if you happen to be part of a population that is only representing 2 percent of that population, as are Native Americans, this can be especially distressing and isolating –– a key factor in academic success or failure based on a number of studies.

It seems to me one of the best opportunities for CSU and under-represented students have to build community here on campus, is to showcase their heritage and share it with the wider campus in a way that both defines the culture and brings people from outside of our CSU, Fort Collins and Larimer County region right here to CSU. Given, the events that occurred in the spring semester 2010 leading up to the CSU vs. Wyoming basketball game (the Cowboys versus Indians controversy) that took on negative ethnic/racial overtones on campus and the Fort Collins community, it would seem that it is our responsibility as a student body to support and create events that promote awareness and respect for the cultural differences we support and embrace on our campus.

Phoenix Mourning-Star is a graduate student in environmental health. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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