Sometimes when I tell people I go to school in Montana, I have to clarify that I really don’t ride a horse to school and that we have seasons other than winter. For some reason, people are under the impression that Montana is as backwards as it gets. I like to think that regardless of where the rest of the state stands, MSU is progressive in a good way.
Traditionally it is far easier to give criticism than it is to accept criticism. It is exponentially harder to turn criticism into a productive new path. MSU has successfully turned around a few stereotypically bad college experiences, in essence redeeming those programs for the overall improvement of the university.
Let’s be honest, if the school can rework Miller food into something not only palatable but at times enjoyable, there is really no limit to the changes that can be wrought on other rough edges. The Renne Library is a great example of redemption. The faculty at the library are constantly working to improve their space through collaboration with outside programs as well as reaching out to students on personal levels. Plans to improve the usability of the library are in the works and the library is reaching out to students to ascertain how best to meet the needs of the 21st century student.
Any improvements will start with the services necessary before structure is designed. They have already expanded their services by allowing students to check out items like Go-Pros for weekend adventures and phone chargers for late night study sessions. The library’s relaxation stations and Paws to De-Stress therapy dog programs are maybe the only redeeming aspects of finals week.
Not only have services improved but the atmosphere on campus is increasingly one of tolerance and opportunity. Last year, MSU was the only school in Montana and one of only 83 universities in the nation to receive Higher Education Excellence in Diversity recognition. It underwent an extensive review of the integration of groups like veterans, women in STEM fields and ethnic minorities in recruitment, policies, programs etc. The school provided benefits to same-sex partners ten years before the state made gay marriage legal. We may go to school in the middle of nowhere but that doesn’t mean our school lacks direction. Collaboration is the main redemptive quality of MSU. There will always be things to improve but the greatest fight is against ignorance. Sharing of information and opinions between students, faculty, alumni, administration and the general public is the best chance we have of making this university into everything we saw on the brochure.