Where’s the innovation?

Chico State administrators have been mum on alternatives to Labor Day

The author is mayor of Chico and a mathematics teacher at Chico High School.

With six, and now possibly seven, alcohol-related deaths in the past year in the student community, I am saddened by Chico State University’s lack of desire to create a strong relationship with the city to form a partnership engaged in countering this dynamic. We are regularly recognized as a campus committed to innovation—both in and out of the classroom. There has never been a more important time for us to act in a swift and compelling manner to focus our commitment for innovation on these critical issues.

The city is ready and willing to form a strong and committed partnership, as evidenced by participation at monthly Town and Gown meetings. But the lack of participation by university administrators at these meetings causes many to wonder if the university wants to talk about these issues or invest time, energy and resources to significantly shift the culture on our campus.

For example, the city worked closely with Glenn County to achieve a ban on alcohol on the river for 2013. And yet, with the end of the semester quickly approaching, the city has not been able to fully engage university administration in serious conversations about developing alternative programs for Labor Day weekend.

If we are going to renew our partnership and address these issues collaboratively, on Labor Day and throughout the year, we need city and university staff at the table focused on solutions designed to truly shift the culture.

At our last Town and Gown meeting, student leaders from SAVE proposed a number of strategies as an alternative to the Labor Day float. The city certainly hopes these student-generated ideas will be supported and developed by campus leaders for implementation in the fall. Imagine the impact if a large portion of new student citizens explored what our beautiful community has to offer over Labor Day weekend: a morning run in the park, team-based scavenger hunts focused on discovering Chico’s history, a BBQ, swim, band and softball at alcohol-free One-Mile at Bidwell Park.

The list of ways to engage students and citizens is endless, but the first step is believing we have the power to shift Chico’s culture in a new direction. If we want students to learn about activities our community has to offer, then let’s invite them into our community and immerse them in the myriad positive, healthful activities we have to offer. Will it change the culture overnight? Of course not, but it will change the culture over time.