President Frank addresses racial tension during 20th Fall Address

Julia Trowbridge

President Tony Frank at podium with interpreter to the left
President Tony Frank speaks of racial injustice and conversations to confront these issues at the 20th annual Fall Address. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

Racial injustice and diversity achievements were among two of President Tony Frank’s topics at the annual Fall Address on Wednesday.

Frank spoke to a crowd of 3,000 community members from both the campus and the surrounding Fort Collins Area gathered on the Oval Wednesday afternoon. This year’s Fall Address marked the event’s 20th anniversary. 

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President Frank addressed embedded characteristics in the community of CSU that we can draw from in order to fulfill our role in assuring a broader understanding of race and privilege in our society. These characteristics he spoke of included debating with our friends and those we disagree with and challenging our own convictions.

“Armed with these characteristics, we can tackle cultural change, we can improve how we treat each other, make progress on everything from living wages to non-tenure faculty rights to racial and gender equity to sexual assault to suicide prevention,” President Frank said.

In addition to addressing issues of racial tension, President Frank stated one of the achievements of CSU this past year is the increased number of diverse students in CSU’s record enrollment.

“One of four students [this year] is first generation, and we are enjoying record levels of student diversity,” Frank said.

Conversation about racial tensions and the role of the CSU community in broadening understanding has entered into the campus rhetoric more prominently this semester, after a recent bias- motivated incident involving a noose in a residence hall. 

Additionally, CSU’s student body continues to be more diverse. This year is another consecutive year of record enrollment in the past decade, with 27.1 percent of the class being ethnically diverse, according to a SOURCE article

“I think (debating and speaking about differences) is the main principle of academia, the university should be a space where we can speak freely and debate our ideas so we can move forward and grow,” said Ana Mauad, a visiting international relations PhD student from Brazil. “This is important to be reaffirmed, certainly.”

Mauad spoke from her experience as a graduate student from Brazil and said CSU is really open towards her. Another student, Sylviana Pakpahan, who is a junior studying nutrition food science, also appreciated Frank’s statements on constructive conversations and liked how he spoke about first generation students.

“I remember he told us this year was the biggest amount of students at Colorado State, especially for students who aren’t from Colorado, and I thought that was really great,” Pakpahan said. “I feel really happy about that because I am also a first generation student.”

CSU is growing, with this current year being another consecutive year of record enrollment in the past decade, and 27.1 percent of the class being ethnically diverse. 

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Overall, the students at CSU appreciated what President Frank had to say at the Fall Address. Rachel Stoudt, a senior studying horticulture, said she liked what Frank had to say on diversity, but also appreciated his style of speaking: creating a connection between the flood in 1997 and the hurricanes that have happened recently.

The fall address, a tradition since the flooding of CSU’s campus in 1997, is an opportunity for the University President to address the community of CSU and Fort Collins about the achievements of the University and its room for improvement.

In addition, Stoudt thought it was good to hear about the achievements of the university.

“I was really impressed at all the accolades of the university,” Stoudt said. “Sometimes you don’t realize all the cool things going on at the university.” 

A transcript of President Frank’s Fall Address and video documentation can be found on the SOURCE article.

Reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules. Austin Fleskes and Ty Betts contributed to this report.