A new year is always a fresh start. With Colorado Mesa University students new and returning coming to campus, they will likely seek out the classic college experience. And yet, there is nothing of substance behind the Maverick banner. Like an empty house, CMU is there; the lights are on, but no one interesting is home.
CMU is boring.
Its students are bored and uninvested, and they placate this apathy with an excessive use of alcohol, something the college has been known for for years.
It’s easy to accuse CMU of lacking a definitive identity, especially when the administration and university marketing urge students to consider it alongside larger and more established schools. But what exactly makes CMU boring?
Why does school spirit have to be bought with free t-shirts?
Why is CMU’s theatre not largely attended by its students, but more often the aging population of Grand Junction?
Why do the stands of the football games seem to have more “away” fans than those supporting home?
These are symptoms of the larger issue, one that creates a never-ending cycle of a dull campus life, one that gives students just enough to come back. And, many do not. CMU boasts a freshmen retention rate of only 66 percent, four percent below the national average. It’s time to bring attention to this issue, as well as define it.
The general theme of CMU has been unassuming and inoffensive. The campus is plain. A general beige wave rolls through each academic room, administrative office and athletic space. The most outrageous thing this school has done visually is put a praying mantis on top of Wubben Hall (even that is out of eyeshot).
CMU administration and the board of trustees want to please prospective students and their skeptical parents. But, in an effort to prove that CMU is now a serious university, it has lost any semblance of a personality. Universities develop this personality mainly through student and faculty events, and if these events are not met with enthusiasm, a campus becomes lifeless.
Arts are intended to serve as the lifeblood of any community, and CMU’s Performing Arts department has failed in this respect. Despite promotional events like student rush, only an average 8-9 percent of total attendees for theatre and dance productions are CMU students, according to Laura Bradley, the department’s communications coordinator. The department’s selection of plays, most upward of 50 years old, such as My Fair Lady (1956) and Boeing Boeing (1960), perhaps discourages students from attending. Based upon the selection of shows for the upcoming season, it seems as though the department will continue this disappointing trend.
Administrators may point to athletic events as evidence of CMU spirit and personality, but these events are attended only by a select group of community members and students using the events to pregame for weekend parties. Last year’s football games received an average of 2,462 attendees, a dismaying number when displayed against the empty seats of Stocker Stadium’s 8,000 seat capacity. Many do not stay throughout the game’s entirety as well, something this statistic doesn’t account for.
Event attendance is not the only factor that contributes to a generally spiritless campus. The lack of unification among faculty members also leads to an environment that feels fractured and disjointed. Though professors can be seen in groups of two or three grabbing coffee or lunch, nothing about the campus design or atmosphere encourages socialization between faculty.
From higher up, CMU professors are supposedly discouraged from affiliating in an attempt to quell unionization attempts.There are no faculty lounges, no faculty events. Largely, they stay in their offices. A divided CMU faculty unintentionally creates a divided CMU student population. This detachment can be seen in areas set aside for student socialization, like The Point, that are under-utilized and do almost nothing to encourage the desired Maverick community.
It would be hypocritical to raise these points of issue without looking internally here at The Criterion as well. For the past decade, The Criterion has functioned, with a few exceptions, as a publication without necessity. It has been a newspaper that covers the bare minimum and shies away from matters of importance. The Criterion has been boring.
Changing campus culture can be a slow process, but the first step is acknowledging its necessity. CMU cannot survive without its identity. And, this identity will ultimately come from some Mavericks. Once they are given the freedom to shape it.
We encourage CMU students to have their voice heard. If you would like to respond to the editorial, a letter to the editor is always welcome. Please send the letter to Criterion@coloradomesa.edu.