Fancy pants

Welcome back, students, to Chico State’s awesome campus

For those who attended Chico State, say, more than a decade ago, the campus has changed significantly. This realization came to me when my family and I went for a recent walk along Big Chico Creek after our regular trip to the Saturday farmers’ market.

There, we noticed the upgrades to Colusa Hall, especially on the outside of the facility, which is now home to a lovely courtyard with a large metal arbor complete with climbing vines and other plants in a raised brick flower bed.

That stroll was the inspiration for this week’s cover story, our annual Back to School Issue, in which we look at the evolving campuses of three local educational institutions: Chico State, Butte College and Chico Unified School District (see “Changing spaces,” page 25). It was an eye-opener for CN&R’s staff, as I’m sure it will be for readers who don’t have an occasion to visit the respective campuses.

For me personally, the most striking changes have occurred at the university, but that’s probably because I am a Chico State alumna. I spent a lot of time on that campus, especially during my last two years of study, when I was a reporter for the campus newspaper and practically lived at its headquarters in the basement of Plumas Hall.

Some of the changes to campus are more subtle. For instance, from the outside, passersby wouldn’t know that Colusa has new guts, including technology upgrades, because its brick exterior remains. I didn’t realize that until I conducted research for this week’s cover story. That’s also when I learned it’s the oldest building on the campus proper, dating back to 1921, when the site we know as Chico State was the Normal School.

Of course, the most dramatic changes to the face of campus are the new buildings that have popped up over the years. I mean, some folks will hardly recognize parts of the complex. During my last semester, then Chico State President Manuel Esteban presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Yolo Hall, home of the university’s Kinesiology Department. I remember being pretty impressed.

More than half a dozen large buildings have been constructed since then, including the now-open, ultra-modern Arts & Humanities Building. I took many literature classes in the old Taylor Hall, and while it had its charms (the occasional malfunctioning elevator), demolishing it to make way for the new arts facility was the right call.

Today’s Chico State students are attending, for lack of a better term, a fancy-pants campus. To be honest, I’m a little envious.

Speaking of undergraduates, unlike a lot of folks, I’m glad when they return toward the end of summer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have a couple of months of quiet downtown. You know, more places to park, shorter lines at the coffee shops, fewer puddles of puke to avoid on the sidewalks. But I miss the energy only they provide.

Last week, on my way home from work, I came face-to-face with a car driving the wrong direction down one-way East Fourth Street. It happens to me around this time each year. I didn’t get angry or annoyed. Instead, I slowed down, smiled and thought to myself, “Welcome back, students.”