I put my journalism cap on Friday afternoon. I put it on every time I set out to interview somebody or cover an event, but Friday afternoon was different.
Usually, I’m focused and confident, but as one of my fellow mass communication students sat down beside me at the CSU-Pueblo campus forum regarding the budget “crisis,” she said I seemed nervous. I admit I was because everybody there was nervous.
Imagine covering the layoff announcement of your own employer. It’s weird. My job is to be as unbiased as possible and report accurately, but I’m also sitting there listening to President Lesley Di Mare say 22 filled positions will be cut.
I don’t technically work for CSU-Pueblo, I’m just a student reporter, but my friends do and the people who are making my passion for journalism a reality do.
By the time Di Mare started taking questions, it became clear to me this is no longer an issue of losing positions to the people in attendance. It was an issue of confidence.
Students don’t believe Chancellor Michael Martin cares about them or their future. One student told me before the meeting that he’s not here, so he could never understand. I suppose in part that is true. He sees CSU-Pueblo with a bird’s eye view. His job is to oversee our university.
Faculty members don’t believe Martin understands their importance to Southern Colorado. We’re all aware Pueblo is in need of more movers and shakers and our best bet is that they’re going to come from CSU-Pueblo. I imagine they wonder how we improve the region when we cut educators. But does Martin see the struggle here? I honestly don’t know, maybe.
Leaving the Occhiato University Center, I felt the energy of the people who had attended, and it felt a lot like defeat. So many tried to convey their feelings for their university, and it felt like nobody was listening. Nobody could change the minds of the administrators. Nobody could offer an alternate solution that was appealing enough.
This feeling worries me. It worries me because I’m afraid people will give up on CSU-Pueblo. I’m afraid students will be discouraged from trying to make a difference in their community. I’m afraid that faculty and staff will quit pushing students to change their community.
More now than ever, CSU-Pueblo needs to be a community. Students chanted si se puede before the forum, and we can’t forget what that means. We couldn’t save those 22 jobs, nobody could, but yes, we can still make a difference in Southern Colorado.
Losing hope has far more of an economic impact than 22 jobs, and our community can’t afford any more losses.