As a Colorado Mesa University student from out of town, it is easy to make observations about the locals of Grand Junction.  While the city has its (small) share of diversity, trends in the locals are somewhat apparent.  

One very recent event at CMU drew the attention of the locals, but not in a positive way. On Sept. 21, 2017, the local farmers’ market was held on the CMU’s campus in lieu, of its usual downtown Grand Junction location.  

A screenshot from the Save North Avenue Facebook page.

Many Grand Junction locals took to the comments section on social media to voice their distaste of this change, despite the fact that it was thus far a temporary event to conclude the farmers’ market season.

While the event drew crowds of typical size, some locals expressed their feelings that this was an attempt of the university to “take over” their community.  In reality, this was an attempt at integration and local involvement in university events.

Another recent event shows an even more widespread consensus among the locals regarding the university itself: the upcoming change of North Avenue’s name to University Boulevard.  

KKCO 11 in Grand Junction recently posted a story about a city council meeting in which upwards of 50 locals came to petition against the already-approved name change.

Along with hordes of less-than-approving social media comments on the matter from locals, this is evidence of a trend that Grand Junction natives are unsatisfied with the growing university and the changes that accompany such growth.  

This is not surprising, as much of the local population seems to be steadfast in many of their ways, resisting the changes of a generally growing and diversifying city.

I point out the latter because of the instances of racism and KKK flyers that have shown up in Grand Junction within the past year.In Feb. 2017, multiple Grand Junction residences received racist flyers promoting the KKK and condemning homosexuality and “race mixing.”  

While this is not telling of all locals and is unlikely to be a general attitude, such instances do indeed show that a subgroup of the city is comfortable enough to distribute hatred in an attempt to drive out diversity.

President of Colorado Mesa University Tim Foster retaliated in a subsequent email to all CMU students and staff at the time, stating, “this sort of abject bigotry and ideology has no place in our community, our state, or our country.”  

CMU is a diverse campus and events such as this, while rare, are universally abhorrent and typically unheard of in more progressive communities that embrace change.

Of course, many Grand Junction locals were equally upset by the flyers and made an overwhelming response condemning this and other hatred in the community.

Clearly, not all attitudes in this city are negative. ‘Community’ can be used as a very fitting adjective to describe the locals in this city. City council meetings such as the one against the North Avenue name change typically fill up, in support of or against various proposed bills as the locals are clearly passionate about what goes on in their city.

Another instance of profound togetherness was the Women’s March in Jan. 2017. KKCO 11 News reported that the event drew over 5,000 supporters, an overwhelming number for a relatively small, conservative-leaning community.  

Personally, I attended the event and was pleasantly shocked at the turnout.  Of course, I saw several angry counter-protesters, but not as many as could be expected in this particularly Republican community in which the nearest Planned Parenthood is over 80 miles to the east.

As Grand Junction grows and the university continues to expand and integrate into the community, the locals will hopefully begin to more readily embrace the changes and become more involved in university life.


  1. I would invite you to speak with people that belong to the KeepNorth4Ever Facebook page. We are NOT the same group as the Save North Avenue page. We are a group of over 3500 people that share a common goal of keeping the North Avenue name based upon a number of things, history, sentiment, business expense and probably many more reasons. The things you state in your article are in stark contrast to what our group is fighting to keep. Our numbers pack the City Council meetings to standing room only. We are respectful of others and their opinions, yet we teach people about how our City is failing us. By combining the “growth” of our city and the anti-diversification sentiment, you are creating a divisiveness between the community and the student body at CMU. Many of our group members are Mesa Junior College, Mesa State College, and Colorado Mesa University alumni and some are current student members, like me. We all have a sense of pride being classified as alumnus of such a fantastic institution, yet we are ridiculed for having a heart for our past. We would love to talk to one of your writers to discuss our views and maybe show current students that even though we don’t support changing the name of North Avenue, we still support the college.

  2. It’s not that we’re against the University it’s just that they need to leave North Avenue North Avenue Levi lacero and his cronies need to find something else to do they need to get a life

  3. Emily, it is unfortunate that you loop those who want to save the integrity of North Ave has it has been for the last 135 years with the KKK. WOW! Where did you draw such a conclusion? Maybe it was your word count limit that got you to think you would throw us all in as one hate group, and call us the same; we are not. I agree with you, it is unfortunate that we have hate in the world, it is unfortunate that some of that hate lives right here in Junction, but we are not all a part of it. Of the now 160+ business owner’s I have spoken with directly since Aug 28th not one of them has mentioned how much they hate, you, I would guess that none of them even know who you are. They have not spoken to me about being for an all white hate group; no one has said anything to me about hating Homosexuals (an old term by today’s standards), NO ONE! The Save North Ave group(s) of which I am one are not for the most part against higher education, I am degreed so are a lot of my friends, so what. What we are against is seeing one entity over take a town of many. CMU is a college town where it sits, it is not at the East or West ends of North Ave. Changing the name of North from one end to the other will not create new skin for the corridor, sidewalks would help, landscaping would help, business signs on the front facing stores and shops would help, remove street signage polls that clutter the aesthetics, but putting new wine in an old wine skin will only cause it to burst. Go to my site: (noted) read of what the name change will cost people. These folks are not a hate group, they are not the KKK; the majority of them didn’t want nor did they ask for the name change to occur, but now are faced with thousands of dollars in expenses if the name change vote by City Council is not rescinded. Get into the meat of “Myth’s vs. Facts” read how miss information was not fact-checked, how it was taken at face value, maybe then you will see what we see, we want to save Grand Junction for the city of diversity it already is, not create something it is not.

  4. Many Grand Junction residents are more than ready for greater diversity in our city, but see that changing the name of a street will pose a significant burden on people who own businesses and property on North Ave. In addition, as university students you should understand the value of proven outcomes in arguing the case for taking specific actions. So far, neither the chamber nor the city have produced any research or studies that demonstrate that changing street names improves the economic condition of an area.

  5. Why do you suppose we are against North Ave name change? It is part of our history, our town we have lived in for decades. We have had to put up with dozens of changes, the out of control growth without the needed infrastructure in place. GJ ‘leaders’ do their deeds without residents getting a voice and you criticize us for wanting to retain some small bit of our past identity. We are losing so much of what was ‘our town’, why begrudge us this? North Ave U is busy consuming neighborhoods, and we just want to retain a name on a street that means something to many of us. We have suggested 12th street be renamed, as it is a direct link to incoming traffic from I-70. But nooooo, we get relegated to the likes of the KKK. nice.

  6. A privileged cis white girl intern who chose to attend a lily-white university located smack dab in the middle of one of the most conservative enclaves in the state pontificating to her fellow enlightened lotus eaters about diversity and inclusiveness. So brave.

  7. I doubt that most of us that oppose the name change have any ill feelings toward CMU. The main problem is the way the city council handled the issue. The citizenry was not contacted about their thoughts towards the change. Council in fact, ignored any comments contrary to the change. There was a survey conducted that had 70% of the businesses on North Avenue against the change. No other survey was conducted other than that of Levi Lucero and he only got signatures of those in favor of making the change, hardly and indicator of broad general support.
    One comment heard was that although North Avenue is the original northern boundary of the city, it is no longer. That recognizes no historic traditional value to the name. Should we by that thinking change the name of Ouray Avenue since the Chief is no longer with us? Why not rename Patterson Road? It is the longest named road in town. Wouldn’t that be seen as having an even greater impact?
    Many of us suggested that 12th Street would be the better choice for renaming since it fronts a significant portion of the CMU campus and would be a logical choice since it connects to Horizon Drive which is the primary feed from I-70 into town and the way most coming here will access the city since that is where they are directed by highway signage. Don’t read anything personal into the objections of the renaming.
    I’m not sure what your mention of events with KKK, homosexuality and race mixing have to do with this. This is such a small fraction of our community that my guess is it is a much smaller portion than in virtually any other city of similar size or larger in Colorado or elsewhere. Those are just red herring arguments and really have no bearing on the decision.
    Bottom line is that his is a case of liberty at work. People exercising their Constitutional rights under 1st Amendment, free speech and petitioning the government for redress of grievances. Even the KKK flyers are in accordance with the 1st Amendment since it was intended to protect speech that others may find unreasonable or offensive.
    This can serve as an example of the freedoms we claim and are recognized by our government and the liberties it guarantees.

  8. The University is seen as a giant bully to it’s surrounding neighbors. To those who don’t live or work near it don’t know what’s happening day to day. The growing number of students and the lack of parking. Students and construction workers take whatever space they can find regardless of who it affects. They block neighbors/businesses driveways, block streets so you can’t get to your home and bully people into selling. They have a plan but never stick to it. Plus they don’t adhere to city planning and they city waves their fees. The City had to lay off a lot of people last year because there wasn’t enough money but yet they can waive fees and give money to the University for a stupid name change. This is what puts a bitter taste in some of the locals mouths.


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