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.
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.