Leibee: CSU students shouldn’t have to be brave to go here

Katrina Leibee

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

There’s not a lot more to say about the incidents of last week. There’s no need to recap or continue the anger toward the racist behavior that some of Colorado State University’s students have exhibited. The University will choose its actions and how it decides to treat its students, therefore choosing its reputation and fate.


During last Wednesday’s Associated Students of CSU meeting, President Joyce McConnell said that the students who were in the room and the students who chose to speak were brave for being there. She was so proud of how courageous the students were. Yes, the students who spoke have a spirit stronger than we can imagine. However, this also indicates that marginalized students have to be brave to go to CSU.

No student should feel as though they have to have courage to attend college. If students have to gear up, put on a brave face and find the strength to go to their own school, there is something fundamentally wrong that goes beyond the incidents of the past week.

I won’t pretend like I know what marginalized students on this campus go through. My opinion and knowledge on the subject only extend as far as my personal and professional relationships with people of color as well as observation and my learning about the history of racism on this campus.

When incidents of racism happen, the dynamic should not be the students against the school; it should be the school against racists. 

As far as I can tell, and with what I have learned, I can see that every day, these students have to be brave. These students have an entire history against them, and they fight microaggressions and racism daily. Every day that is not on CSU’s campus is already a fight. 

Coming to their own school that they pay thousands to attend should not be a fight for basic decency. Marginalized students shouldn’t be forced to be brave here.

CSU should be the place they come to and know they don’t have to worry about fighting for their identity and humanity because the administration will fight that battle for them. The University should do its job in fighting for their marginalized students so they can focus on learning.

When incidents of racism happen, the dynamic should not be the students against the school; it should be the school against racists. 

That is where things went wrong this past week. McConnell didn’t necessarily make it clear that the University was going to fight against the behavior because of free speech, but she wanted to hear students’ voices on the issue. In simpler terms, the University isn’t going to fight this battle, but our students will as they have in the past.

And the students did. Thursday morning, dressed in black with #NotProudToBe signs, students continued doing the University’s job of condemning and protesting racism.

#NotProudToBe Blackout Event members march, "#NotProudToBe posters, rainbow fist shirt, Black Lives Matter shirt
Colorado State University students march at the #NotProudToBe blackout event toward The Oval during the Fall Address, Sept. 19. (Anna von Pechmann | Collegian)

Wednesday night during the ASCSU senate session, students put school, jobs, campus activities and personal plans aside to fight for their right to live and learn in peace.


What is the job of this University if not to make it a safe space for the students that are most at risk of harassment and harmful behavior from others? What is the job of the University if not to fight these battles for students so they don’t have to put aside their lives to fight for themselves?

As my editor Leta McWilliams said, we’re an institution that speaks on inclusion and diversity but doesn’t actually do anything. The administration makes the students do most of the work, even if it means putting aside their own learning and jobs.

Emails and speeches aside, the next time this happens — because it will — the University needs to do the fighting. The University needs to make sure their students feel safe and that they do not have to be brave just to attend their own institution.

We need the University to be stronger than its students, or else its students will get worn out doing a job that should not belong to them.

Katrina Leibee can be reached at letters@collegian.com or Twitter @KatrinaLeibee.