The agenda for the Colorado State University-Pueblo faculty senate meeting on Monday featured typical agenda items such as updates on issues like marijuana research, the strategic plan and retention. Interjected between the usual order of things was a guest the faculty senate welcomed, Antonio Huerta, CSU-Pueblo’s Associated Students’ Government president.
He nervously awaited his turn to speak, tapping his foot and folding his printed script over and over. On his agenda was not to discuss a lighthearted topic, but to address an issue that concerned him and to open, what he felt was an essential conversation about positive collaboration between faculty and students.
“To gain a better faculty perspective of the university and the results of the equity study, I decided to attend the American Association of University Professors meeting held in early November. Instead of getting a better understanding of the needs of the university through the faculty perspective, I personally felt discouraged and embarrassed because of several comments made during that meeting. I simply couldn’t stay in that room any longer,” Huerta said.
He said that only a few faculty members at the meeting made comments that discouraged him and that the main problem was what he deemed a disrespectful comment that a certain professor made, he did not reveal the name out of respect, regarding CSU-Pueblo President Lesley Di Mare and other aspects of the university.
“I felt hurt that people who work at our university would speak such harsh words about our leadership. What made it worse was that no one at that meeting stood up for our administration. I have grown up that even though you disagree with decisions, we need to trust, respect and work hand in hand with our leadership personnel,” he continued.
Members of the faculty senate respectfully sat and listened while Huerta transitioned from addressing his concern to how the situation he experienced can become a learning one and how to move forward to benefit both students and faculty.
“I would say that the faculty is the face of this university, therefore, we need faculty who support this institution and work with leadership to make it better. The students see you every week, sometimes on multiple occasions and this university needs your support now more than ever,” Huerta said.
“I truly believe our campus faculty, staff and administration love our university and want what is best and if we had millions of dollars to invest I believe our administration would wholeheartedly invest in the faculty and staff.”
Huerta stressed that faculty attendance at campus events, athletics, activities and student organizations would help create a more vibrant, positive campus atmosphere where students love coming to campus and could find a purpose.
He ended his address to the faculty senate with the quote by Rudyard Kipling “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack” and a reminder that if everyone is on the same page, the university community will prosper.
Several members of the faculty senate nodded after Huerta ended and a few members commented reassuring him that his message was heard and that they care.
Faculty Senate President Margie Massey thanked Huerta for his address and said “There have been faculty that have left because of the lack of raises; however, the faculty that has remained at CSU-Pueblo want to be here and are invested in the students, as well as the institution. In my experience faculty and staff do champion student success and, are student advocates.”
Moving forward, the faculty senate plans to work with the ASG and all students to continue success.
Upon completion of his address to the faculty senate, Huerta was stopped by a few senate members who commented on his speech and invited him to sit in on some strategic plan meetings in the near future.
“It went a lot better than I expected to be asked tough questions and even though I wasn’t, I was prepared to answer them if I needed to. The ASG presidents in the past didn’t really have time to start the conversation. I’m hoping that starting this will help create a collaborative atmosphere,” Huerta said.
Huerta was elected last spring for a one-year term to represent all CSU-Pueblo students that will end May 2017. He sits on 15 university boards and committees, leads the student senate meetings each Tuesday evening and meets each month with administration one-on-one to discuss issues, projects, plans and ways to benefit education and experience of CSU-Pueblo students further.
Edited by: Theresa Wolf