Weighing in on the name change


I see the city has finally decided to rename North Avenue University Boulevard.

This seems appropriate since over its approximate four mile-length, Colorado Mesa University dominates nearly 1,200 feet of frontage along the thoroughfare.

As someone who has family ties to the street (my great-grandfather helped build it) you would think I would have more of an opinion or be unhappy at the historical readjustment.

Mainly, I’m just proud of how well-built it is and has held up over time. It was built using large amounts of gravel and other materials to keep the street from buckling in the area’s hot and cold cycles. Now, it appears a garden hoe is scraped along the ground; some pea gravel is thrown in, covered with a layer of plastic wrap and then paved.

Actually, the name change is probably just as well as it’s always been hard for people to wrap their heads around a street that runs east to west named North.

Besides, it’s great that such a relatively simple thing can turn around a city’s financial fortune and show how forward-looking the community has become.

With that in mind, I would advocate for 12th Street, which runs north-south along the CMU campus be renamed Starfleet Academy Parkway.

This is a giant leap forward in showing our commitment to the future as well as opening up a lucrative T-shirt logo operation across the internet.

There’s no doubt that CMU is an economic driver for the community and should be supported in its development.

However, a different question I’ve heard from some nosy parents is if it is a good economic investment for the graduate.

Some of these people have nothing better to do than wonder if the tens of thousands of dollars they’ve been saving for their children’s college education is going to have some meaningful return or if they should’ve just spent the money buying lottery tickets.

The answer is yes and it depends. First, in a general way, the money spent on a four-year degree over the work life of an individual is generally considered to be more valuable, even with the cost, than someone who does not have a baccalaureate.

However, when you scratch the surface a bit you see it does depend on what emphasis of study is attached to the degree.

It also matters somewhat where that degree was obtained, but in the long run, the field of study is a much better predictor of a wise investment.

For instance, no matter where you go to school the best return on your venture in a degree is in what is popularly known as a STEM curriculum.

This stands for degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Other degrees, even if they have the word science in them, such as the arts and sciences degrees, are not STEM majors and fare much worse over time as a return on investment.

The Economist magazine published a study that indicated, “Of the 153 arts degrees in the study, 46 generated a return on investment worse than plonking the money in 20-year treasury bills. Of those, 18 offered returns worse than zero.”

Then there’s the problem of what’s being taught in campus curriculums, with an inordinate amount of attention being paid on college campuses to race, gender and cultural issues, that for the most part, eludes the broader population.

A helpful example of what parents are concerned about is contained in a letter from student activists to the administration of Oberlin College in Ohio, an expensive private liberal arts school ($52,700 per year) which has a reputation of being quite liberal — with alumni such as the actress/writer Lena Dunham of HBO’s “Girls”.

The letter objected to a number of things and pointed out the student’s belief that, “…this institution functions on the premises of imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, and a cissexist heteropatriarchy.”

In case you’re wondering the prefix cis-is Latin meaning “on the side of.”

I’m sure parents are overjoyed at their children spending time formulating these ideas but with Americans carrying $1.4 trillion in student debt, it might not be the best use of their time.

So, support our university and change all the names you want but pay attention that it continues to provide real return on the money parents and students invest.

Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney who maintains a political blog, The War on Wrong. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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