EDITORIAL: Central Michigan University is trying to rebrand its core values to the opposite of what it stands for


Take a look at Central Michigan University.

Think about the peers in your classrooms, the people you see walking around campus. Think about your experience as a student here.

Is it everything you thought it would be? Or has your experience changed over the years, morphing into something your freshman self wouldn't be able to recognize?

You're not the only one.

Consider the realities of today's CMU: a closed presidential search, raising room and board, hiking the tuition rate in June when students are off campus, breaking ground on not one but two new buildings most of campus will not utilize while not addressing lacking mental health services and being deliberately disingenuous when it comes to reporting on university sexual assault and harassment. 

 There's a lot CMU has to answer for.

The thing is, this CMU the university is becoming is not the CMU most students were sold on as freshmen or transfer students. The CMU on our college tours or in brochures promised a safe, multicultural campus with affordable room and board rates and an emphasis on keeping the best interests of students at heart.

Watch any CMU advertisement. You wouldn't be able to recognize the campus because the campus they are advertising is not one that exists. CMU is so focused on being "a business" that it's losing sight of why students decided to come here in the first place.

Don't misconstrue this as an editorial lamenting the "good old days." There have always been issues here; there will always be issues at any sort of big institution.

The thing that made this university different – which set it apart from the University of Michigans and Michigan States of the world – was the intimacy of its Mount Pleasant campus and its surrounding community. 

CMU is billed as an "in-between" university — a place where a student could have the experience of going to a four-year university while still being able to keep that small-town feel. We are presented as a university where, as a student, you are not a faceless dollar sign but a member of a community or a member of a family. That is what we are in danger of losing. 

Every day the administration chooses to run the university as if we are a Fortune 500 company, CMU becomes less like a home, and more like a corporation.

Maybe this culture will change with the new president.

Maybe this faceless entity the Board of Trustees urges us to endorse (without actually knowing who they are or what they stand for) will reignite that feeling of community and care which CMU once prided itself on.

It's more than likely, however, we will be seeing yet another president being brought into the fold with a salary of $500,000 or more, presenting "big ideas" — ideas that don't mesh with what it means to be a Chippewa.

There's only so long public relations can keep up the positive spin. While advertisements say and portray one thing, student and alumni opinions are much stronger in swaying potential students than a 30-second slot on television or a billboard.

Remember, the C in CMU stands for Central — for community, for compassion, for creativity — not for corporation. 

With all due respect to your $100 million black tie capital campaign dinner, this is our university – not your private party.