The new on-campus stadium has been on the minds and hearts of Colorado State University students, staff, faculty and Fort Collins residents alike for months. Now that we know it’s actually happening, thanks to President Frank’s December announcement, community questions and concerns have naturally centered on what the addition of an on-campus stadium will change. We have all heard the rhetoric around a newer, better athletic program, a place to draw alumni and funding and a fix for the structural antiquities of Hughes, but what facilities and programs are being physically displaced and, in some cases, cut as a result?
According to construction plans, the new stadium will be built west of Meridian Ave. between Pitkin St. and Lake St., currently where the Plant Environmental Research Center resides. Fortunately, PERC, perhaps better known as the facilities supporting the CSU community gardens, will be relocated south of Prospect. Less fortunately, the site of PERC’s new home is the same location as the popular CSU Challenge Course. As a result, the Challenge Course will be permanently closing this spring.
The Challenge Course was one of CSU’s recreational programs and while anyone who has seen it will likely note the suspension cords and high attractions, the Challenge Course was about much more than thrills. According to Colleen McAnallen, a Challenge Course staff member and fourth-year student at CSU, it was about community building and individual growth. A popular site for high school groups and various college organizations and teams, the Challenge Course teaches groups of often unfamiliar people how to work together and utilize the group dynamic to accomplish tasks. While the tasks at hand may not seem like they have much application, it is critical for these teams to learn how to function together. What people take away from the course is an invaluable sense of self and community. In McAnallen’s words, “The Challenge Course is a place to practice your life skills while it’s still easy.”
The Challenge Course staff, who were notified of the closure in an email from supervisors Jan. 8, attempted to negotiate with the University and Campus Recreation to be relocated to an on-campus location, or to the CSU Foothills Campus. They even offered to scale down their equipment. However none of those arrangements worked, primarily due to funding and programming constraints. The course is therefore being deconstructed and officially closed Feb. 14, with most of the equipment being donated to Pingree Park.
In an effort to incorporate the student voice and put more weight on negotiations, McAnallen started a petition to save the Challenge Course on Thursday in anticipation of a final negotiation meeting with Campus Recreation on Monday. However, she was notified a mere day later that the meeting had been cancelled. Clearly an important place to most everyone who has enjoyed the experience, it is not surprising that in the day the petition was circulated, over 100 people signed their support. Though the future of the Challenge Course looks bleak, McAnallen is still urging people to sign the petition. “It can’t hurt,” she said, “and there is still a chance that we could make a difference.”
We all expect the new stadium to make waves — it is a huge shift for the community and things will inevitably get displaced. The problem here is timing and a lack of transparency. The termination of the Challenge Course was not discussed publicly as a part of stadium considerations, and as a result community and student support were not taken into consideration. We understand that the stadium is happening, but I personally would directly like to know about all of the repercussions. If we are supposed to have a say as students, then I would like the time and information to actually have one.
Collegian Columnist Caroline King can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @cgking7