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Secrest: Clark’s condition shows we don’t fully appreciate liberal arts

The+Andrew+G.+Clark+buildings+B+wing+Oct.+15.+Clark+B+consists+of+two+hallways+connecting+the+second+and+third+floors+of+the+A+and+C+wings.
Collegian | Michael Marquardt
The Andrew G. Clark building’s B wing Oct. 15. Clark B consists of two hallways connecting the second and third floors of the A and C wings.

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.

The Andrew G. Clark building is often deemed the center of campus life. With roughly 99% of Colorado State University students taking a course in Clark, it is essential to the Ram experience.

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The revamping of Clark is meant to bring life back to the building. Over time it has become the butt of several jokes on social media. It has been described as “transactional,” meaning it’s not exactly a place you stay after class.

How does one of the most well-known buildings on campus become the most avoided building? While everyone may attend at least one class in Clark, for many that’s a first-year seminar — not the defining course of their education. 

The College of Liberal Arts, educating over 6,400 students on campus, is housed in Clark. Thus, its students and faculty are most familiar with Clark and its ailments. 

If the building’s state were to be taken as a direct message, I would assume the university doesn’t value liberal arts much at all. While a remodel with full consideration of liberal arts is in the works, current students still need to feel a sense of community, especially during the construction, when they’ll lose their home base altogether.

The remodel is ambitious, and its completion will show how the departments inside are valued; however, the fact that so much has gone unmanaged in Clark manifests something else as well. 

Being in a building that is crumbling around you while your peers study among fish tanks and stunning displays of flora and fauna can feel incredibly discouraging. Not seeing the light of day as soon as you enter your classes while your peers study in corridors with big windows adds to the intrusive thought that your education isn’t as important as others. 

You can see it in the new Find Your Energy campaign with its blatantly heavy focus on CSU’s research and STEM pursuits. You can barely identify a trace of liberal arts. STEM is incredibly valuable and full of well-deserving departments on campus as well; however, we are not required to neglect liberal arts in order to celebrate STEM. 

Clark is home to the departments of economics, journalism, political science, anthropology and geography, sociology and women’s and gender studies, to name a few. All of these departments deserve to showcase their accomplishments. They deserve to work side by side with their coworkers. They need a solid home base during and after the remodel. 

These students deserve hole-free ceilings, windows and a strong community space to reach out to professors and further their education. We have an entire TV studio, anthropological collections and other fantastic accomplishments of these departments that deserve to be seen by those outside their field.

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The university makes some beautiful statements about what it values. They promote inclusion, integrity, respect, service and social justice. You can see that in several efforts, from welcome week events to graduation, there are a million moments in between made just so that students feel included and respected. Clark should be included in that. 

The students in Clark are more than just first-years taking their first college course; it’s full of future lawyers, producers, journalists and politicians. It is the educational hub of future historians, poets and documentarians. They deserve proper study rooms, community spaces and a less terrifying elevator. 

While the planning of the Clark remodel is underway, we’re nowhere near having a new and improved Clark. Construction isn’t planned to begin until the end of 2024. In the meantime, there are other ways to make the students in Clark feel valued.

“Our students and faculty share a commitment to the well-being of the human community, the natural environment in which we live and to the inspiration of the human spirit,” according to the College of Liberal Arts website

While there is great hope accompanying the remodel, we have to be careful as a community not to neglect a building like this again. Clark was not the first and will not be the last time students feel undervalued because of where they get to experience college as opposed to their peers.

Until the building in which these students and professors spend their college careers is treated with dignity and respect, the departments in Clark will remain neglected. Whether Clark remains the home of liberal arts or becomes some other college’s domain, the places we put people in matter. It reflects what we value and how we see their needs in the context of our community.

Reach Ivy Secrest at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.

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About the Contributor
Ivy Secrest
Ivy Secrest, Content Managing Editor
Ivy Secrest is The Collegian's content managing editor. Secrest uses she/her/hers pronouns and has worked for The Collegian previously as a reporter and as life and culture director for the 2022-23 academic year. As a senior in the journalism and media communications department, Secrest enjoys reporting on environmental and social issues with a special interest in science communication. She is president of the Science Communication Club and is pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability with hopes of utilizing her education in her career. Growing up in Denver, Secrest developed a deep love for the outdoors. She could happily spend the rest of her life hiking alpine environments, jumping into lakes, taking photos of the wildflowers and listening to folk music. She's passionate about skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. Secrest's passions spurred her career in journalism, helping her reach out to her community and get involved in topics that students and residents of Fort Collins truly care about. She has taken every opportunity to connect with the communities she has reported in and has written for several of the desks at The Collegian, including news, life and culture, cannabis, arts and entertainment and opinion. She uses her connections with the community to inform both managerial and editorial decisions with hopes that the publication serves as a true reflection of the student body's interests and concerns. Secrest is an advocate of community-centered journalism, believing in the importance of fostering meaningful dialogue between press and community.

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    AntonioSep 28, 2023 at 10:41 am

    As a faculty working in Clark I can only express my total appreciation for your words and for the clear way in which you expressed a shared view. ¡Muchas gracias!

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