So this is it Cal Poly. I’m officially 10 days away from leaving office and this is my last column as your dedicated ASI president. One of the benefits of being president is gaining an increased perspective on the role of students in the university and the value of a university education beyond the classroom. By the possible coincidence that some of these insights might be meaningful to you, I’d like to share a few in my last column.

You get what you work for

A university is a very organic bureaucracy of thousands of people working towards the same goal. Everyone definitely has enough work to do before you approach them with an idea or an initiative (especially administrators). But if you do your homework well enough to prove that your initiative should be a priority, you will make progress. You get what you work for, nothing more, nothing less.

Everything is an investment

Everyone involved in the university from students to administrators to donors, are all investing in the potential of our graduates and our institution. The bottom line is that everything is an investment and if you deconstruct everything to nothing more than a cost (time, money, space), you’ll be missing the whole point. We’re in the business of, as the Division of Student Affairs missions statement proclaims, “Investing in Greatness.” The more we combine our resources (time, money, space) for shared initiatives, the more effective we’ll become as an institution. Students have the unique power to create collaboration between divisions, departments and colleges. Keep it up and I guarantee the returns will demonstrate value in the long run.

We’re all in this together

The more we can begin to understand and build on the common ground that we share, the more we’ll be able to effectively build bridges across the cultural, intellectual and political divisions that separate us in so many ways. For instance, we all value educational opportunities but may have different perspectives on how it should be afforded to the public. Let us join forces in advocating for the principle of educational opportunity. Nobody wins when we pigeon-hole initiatives into a narrow political or social agenda. We pay our legislators the big bucks to work out the political and legal details to the satisfaction of their colleagues and the voters.

Students are the foundation, but there’s more

It’s obvious that without students we wouldn’t have a university, but again, it’s counter-productive to break it down at that level and claim that the students are the only aspect of a university with value. The university is a community of forces that collaborate to create opportunities. Without the dedication of each entity from individual students and faculty to colleges, divisions and ASI, we wouldn’t be able to provide a complete college experience. As students, we must realize that we’re part of something much larger than ourselves, we’re part of a community working towards a common goal from many directions.

Opportunities create responsibility

So you’re about to graduate, what’s next? Are you going to settle into the 9-to-5 routine, forget about Cal Poly and move away only to perpetuate the status-quo? Or are you going to make a difference like college-educated professionals have done throughout history? Educational opportunity creates a responsibility to give back to our communities in countless ways. The choices we make with our limited time will define the people we become and the world in which we live. We can either be the scrooges of the world or we can be the positive role models and benefactors of community growth and development that California and America need so badly.

Whatever you choose to do, do it with integrity, give it all your effort and treat your time as an investment into your, and the world’s future. This is the attitude I’ve approached every day with as president and I believe it has served the students and Cal Poly well. In the end, all we are is a collection of the meaningful works we’ve accomplished in life. So, as I’m reflecting on what I may be remembered for as your ASI president, I challenge you to consider what you’d like to be remembered for as a Cal Poly student. Once you’ve answered that question (or at least part of it) you’re on your way to success in college and in life.

Tylor Middlestadt is the ASI president and Mustang Daily columnist. He can be reached at 756-5828, tmiddles@calpoly.edu, AIM: CPASI President

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