Saving Flagstaff

Northern Arizona University has always been the most underrated of Arizona universities for reasons unknown. We’ve got a scenic campus, beautiful weather year-round, and unlike the rest of the Arizona schools, we’re not located smack dab in the middle of a godforsaken desert that is only made hotter by all of the bodies permeating the area. We’ve got the looks, the laid-back attitude, and the breweries, so what more could you want? Sure, we’re overrun by freshmen, are slowly but surely running out of space to put them, are basically paving paradise, and are putting up nine different parking lots. But all of these awful things about our otherwise ideal campus can be traced back to one thing. President of Northern Arizona University, Rita Cheng.

President Cheng has fallen under constant fire ever since the No Snow Day debacle of the winter of 2015-2016. Cheng put students and professors alike in danger by keeping NAU active during several days during which snow and weather conditions shut down the rest of Flagstaff. It is common knowledge to the student body at this point in Cheng’s career at NAU that most of her questionable decisions are incentivized. The fewer snow days for us, the more figures in her bank account.

But it doesn’t end with reckless endangerment—Cheng has also overseen the booming freshman population. NAU is currently sitting pretty with an 81% acceptance rate, higher than the U of A and ASU by an almost embarrassing margin when taking into account the size of all three. In most recent news, because of this onslaught of freshmen, all upperclassmen are being removed from campus. Flagstaff is one of the most expensive places to live in Arizona, without adding student debt on to that, but now third year students are being forced into the housing market despite the varying socioeconomic statuses of NAU’s student body.

On top of snow and the on-campus exodus, there is the matter of billions of dollars being funneled into new sidewalks, of all things. The new and uncovered tennis courts have just been completed, right on time for the snow to fall. New, streamlined buildings are popping up month by month, destroying the views that NAU campus has been so coveted for while buildings like SBS are untouched since its status as a condemned building was overturned.

NAU isn’t what it was even four years ago when I got here. It has changed in policy, in appearance, and into something that I don’t recognize. It’s hard to love a school that is run by someone who has only worked to make it into something it was never meant to be. But I hold out hope for my little university to stay little, for the massive student body to find their voices and speak out against what is happening here. We are a campus of socially-conscious and passionate people who can do anything as a collective, and I for one think that Rita Cheng should be next on the agenda for change.

Photo Credit: Northern Arizona University

#flagstaff #nau #reflections

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