The polarizing on-campus stadium debate didn’t stop with the Fort Collins community or CSU students –– faculty at the university are as divided on the issue as everyone else.
Some argue that focusing on athletics inhibits academic progress. Some worry that additional traffic and loss of green space would be detrimental to the campus environment. Others think an on-campus stadium presents a revenue stream that would benefit CSU’s land-grant mission in a time of extreme budget cuts.
“There are way more important things to a university, like how good the teachers are and what you’re going to learn, than going to football games with nice seating,” said Jessica Cox, a graduate teaching assistant.
Part of that involves maintaining reasonable class sizes that allow instructors to spend time on students’ work and be available during office hours. The on-campus stadium, however, could increase student interest in CSU, increasing the demand on faculty.
“There has been no move to hire full-time faculty,” said Ann Magennis, an associate professor of anthropology. “It is only an increase in adjuncts. They have no job security, lousy pay. They are third-class citizens and that’s who is teaching a quarter of all the classes on campus. How do they expect to support the influx of students without adequate faculty to teach them?”
But it wouldn’t be just instructors who would suffer, faculty said. An on-campus stadium, they said, could potentially change the university’s entire culture by shifting its focus off of academics.
“I’ve done my small part to make this place a highly ranked university for research and teaching,” physics professor Carl Patton said. “I’d hate to see that dominated by a football mentality. It will change the whole culture of our campus.”
Graduate teaching assistant Bradley Kaye agreed.
“I’m a huge football fan, but I’m a huge opponent of the stadium,” Kaye said. “I think it shows a distinct predilection to a certain type of atmosphere that privileges athletics over academics.”
But not all faculty were quick to oppose CSU President Tony Frank’s proposal. Some viewed it as a revolutionary step in fulfilling the land-grant mission of CSU.
“Tony Frank has a long-term vision and we’re moving forward according to that vision, and I see that has a positive,” said James Pritchett, an associate professor of agricultural economics.
Pritchett said that higher education has been stuck in a stage of victimization and supports the university pursuing new avenues of funding outside of the state. That way, it can support its land-grant mission –– providing individuals access to higher education.
“The next stage for us is to say we’re going to find other revenue streams to fulfill the land grant mission even if those avenues are unconventional,” Prichett said. “The first 150 years was about the state supporting us and now we’re looking at new ways to accomplish what we’ve always set out to do.”
Senior Reporter Kate Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.