Banquet of Leaders brings community collaboration

“Tonight is not a night to celebrate what the leaders of this campus have achieved, but rather work towards making Golden and the School of Mines a more collaborative community.” This was the welcoming statement, given by Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President Matthew McNew, to all those in attendance at last Friday’s first ever banquet of leaders. The event aimed to connect CSM leadership across the board, inviting USG elects, class presidents, varsity and club sport captains, GSA representatives, student activities and administrative staff, the Mayor of Golden, and other distinguished guests. It was a night for all the factions of CSM to share their accomplishments and goals, and work to come together for the betterment of the community. The Golden Hotel hosted the evening event, and attendees were treated to dinner and speeches by students, faculty and city members.

McNew began the evening with a recap of USG’s accomplishments over the past year. Since the organization’s name change at the beginning of the year (formerly known as ASCSM), voter turnout has tripled. USG updated the RTD bus passes and allocated a record $800,000 to student organizations. McNew informs that there is $30,000 remaining in the budget to allocate to anything that proves beneficial to the Mines community and welcome suggestions. He stresses a desire for more transparency and visibility concerning USG actions. Upcoming events for USG include elections the week of E-days and a new event called “Into the Streets,” happening on March 23, in which CSM students will go into the streets of Golden to volunteer around town.

Following the USG announcements was an update on the Graduate Student Association by GSA President Cericia Martinez. GSA separated from ASCSM three years ago, resulting in separate governing bodies for graduate and undergraduate students. Martinez explains that, unlike the undergraduate program, the majority of graduate work is focused on research. The GSA aims specifically to help graduate students with their research by providing funding, travel to conference, etc. The organization also hosts the annual Conference on Earth and Energy Research (CEER), which is a great opportunity for students to present their research. Funds are available for undergraduates to further their research and travel to conferences as well, said Martinez. The GSA welcomes more open interaction amongst the undergraduates.

Elliot Feng, Vice President of the Student Athletics Advisory Committee, was next to take the podium. Feng began by thanking the audience for the opportunity to speak, “We have such a great academic school, it’s not often we get to brag about athletics.” But, as Fang explained, CSM has a lot to brag about. Mines’ athletes are breaking records across the board, and the school is currently ranked number one in athletics for a division two school. Just a few of CSM’s athletic accomplishments over the past year included women’s volleyball placing 12th in the nation, men’s soccer placing 11th in the nation, women’s soccer placing 5th, women’s cross-country making nationals for the first time ever, and men’s cross-country ranked 2nd in the nation. Feng concluded by thanking the many club representatives and faculty saying, “We couldn’t do what we do without you.”

Following athletics were addresses for Greek Life by the Interfraternity President Noah Langford and Panhellenic Council President Taryn Mantta. Langford talked about his own experience as a fraternity member, and the astounding professional and educational benefits to which he has access. In an attempt to make the CSM community more aware of Greek Life, Langford has begun a long-term news and advertising campaign. Mantta, echoing Langford’s message, said that many of the great accomplishments made by CSM’s three sororities that have gone largely unrecognized. The size of the sororities has increased by ten percent over the past two years and the members have done a combined 4,000 hours of community service each year. Sororities have also made a recent push to be more supportive on campus by attending sporting and club events. Mantta urges clubs to reach out to the Greek community for support, saying “Let us know what you are doing, we love coming out to support Mines.” Making her point on the involvement of the fraternities and sororities, Mantta pointed out that twenty percent of those attending the banquet were indeed Greeks.

After an intermission for dinner, the night continued with a speech from CSM Vice President and Provost Terry Parker. Parker aimed to address four main questions heard around campus, with the first being “Who are we? What is Mines?” While there are many ways to describe the atmosphere and the direction of CSM, Parker summarized the school as “a small institution with a stemmed focus, programs of excellence, and exemplary graduates.” Parker’s next question to address was, “What is the present and future of academics at Mines?” The present state of academics includes a noticeable change in the balance of graduate and undergraduate from previous years, new degrees and formalized programs offered to students, and the growth of a strong research culture. In regards to the future, Parker said that the school aims to improve the bio offerings, but has no plans to broaden its focus to non-engineering degrees or grow the size of the school. The third question addressed was “Why are we transitioning to colleges?” Without going into the complex organizational structuring of the university, Parker explained the benefits of the college system. The colleges help collaboration between faculty and administration, and they allow for more competitive competition, which leads to better programs for everyone. In addition, they help hold all departments to a minimum standard of excellence. The last point to address was the physical locale of departments on campus and associated problems and complaints. Parker states, “There are three types of space problems: quality, quantity and location. We have all three.” The school is working on solutions that benefit everyone, but it continues to be a work in progress.

Dan Fox, Dean of Students, was next to the stage, highlighting student life. Fox explained the goal of student activities is to maximize the time spent outside the classroom, make a more immersive environment for students and impart a sense of civic duty to students during their time at Mines. Even though he has worked at multiple schools, Fox said that “this student body cares more about the world than anywhere else I have been.” Student life hopes to continue to enrich the college experience for CSM students and has undertaken many projects for the upcoming year. Starting this spring and into next year, construction will begin on the Marv Kay Athletics Complex, Elm Residence and Dining Hall, a new Student Welcome Center and a three-phase renovation to the Student Center. Concluding his speech, Fox left students with a quote from Abraham Lincoln, “Commitment is what transforms promise into reality.”

Ending the evening was an address from Marjorie Sloan, the Mayor of Golden. Sloan said that her job was to make sure that CSM students feel welcome in Golden. And Sloan is happy to have Mines saying, “You [CSM students] are the spice of Golden. We are so happy to have you in our town.” Following a video recap of Golden events in 2012, Sloan said “I’m not sure what’s in store for this year, but I’m sure it will be as phenomenal as 2012.” A few things coming over the next year include the light rail and a pedestrian bridge across Sixth Avenue, more microbrewery openings, and a new 100-unit apartment complex to be built near the Briarwood Inn.

The Banquet of Leaders was a night to rally CSM to continue improvements of the Mines community. The accomplishments of the many individual groups are astounding, and by collaborating and combining these fragmented segments of campus, CSM can accomplish truly amazing feats.

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