March 11, 2022 | NEWS | By Mika Alexander

Students, faculty, and staff are on the search for Colorado College’s next big thing.

In an attempt to understand how the college can do what it does better, campus community members have been meeting with each other in order to begin the first phase of the three-year-long initiative, Project 2024.

This project is a massive undertaking that has been split into three parts: “What we hope to do,” “How we intend to do it,” and finally, “Doing it.” Each of these parts corresponds with the 2021-2022, 2022-2023, and 2023-2024 schoolyears, respectively.

Since this past fourth block, students, faculty, and staff have met with each other and administrators, such as President L. Song Richardson, to discuss ideas for what CC can change about its environment.

In order to organize meaningful change, staff and faculty involved in Project 2024’s conversations have worked through the challenge of involving enough diverse feedback from the wide range of students on campus.

“We’ve invited every student to a dinner, and then we’ve also met with all the RAs, met with CCSGA, with the President’s Council, so we’re nearing the end of that phase now,” said Professor and Project Coordinator Susan Ashley.

With the many meetings that have occurred this semester, Project 2024 discussions have brought up many campus-related issues ranging from housing insecurity to developing digital knowledge to altering the block plan altogether.

These issues, according to Ashley, will be compiled into a thematic list by the various student, faculty, and staff steering committees. This should, in turn, move the initiative onto its next phase: “How we intend to do it.”

For the next phase, the issues discussed this school year will be “translated into policies, practices, programs, and actions,” said Ashley.

Thus, the project aims to understand campus-wide concerns and take tangible steps to adjust the way CC operates for the better.

A “bottom-up planning process for the college,” Project 2024 empowers non-administrative campus community members to get involved with decision-making processes, according to Faculty Steering Committee Member Christina Leza.

Thus, this initiative places a big emphasis on making CC’s environment more supportive for community members who usually do not have as strong of an influence as administrators, like staff and students.

“A problem with the institution, for a long time, has been a sense of distance or a gap between the life of staff and the life of students and faculty,” said Leza.

With “staff sometimes feeling that we don’t appreciate the roles that they play here at the college,” Leza said, “one of the things we are trying to immediately address is how do we not only create a better work environment for staff but also show them that we appreciate everything they’ve always done and how much they’ve stepped up during this time period.”

Along the lines of praising and supporting campus community members such as staff, the project will play a big role in creating a stronger sense of community at CC.

As a professor of color at a predominantly white institution, Leza has acknowledged the importance of community-building for creating a supportive and well-rounded academic and social community on campus.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, “it seems that everyone has felt [a lack of community] in some way, feeling that we want to be more connected, but the way that things are structured currently makes that difficult,” Leza said.

Despite the pandemic making it much harder for campus communities to connect with one another, Project 2024 seems to set up a foundation for rebuilding the interrelations that make up the student, faculty, and staff bodies.

“It was really good to have a wide range of students in Project 2024–freshmen, sophomores, different majors. It was really nice to see that involvement and how those discussions carried onto staff and faculty discussions,” said student steering committee member John Le ’24.

With the large range of opinions about CC’s environment circulating around Project 2024’s meeting spaces, students, staff, and faculty who would otherwise probably not interact have been able to create a constructive community based on improving the quality of living at CC.

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