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Good-bye Newspapers April 25, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — chrysscada @ 3:40 am
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My words were first pressed into newsprint in my column “The Blind Leading the Blind” in my high school paper The Thompson Valley Voice in 1985– I wrote about daring to be different at a time in life when doing so is nothing short of life threatening.  This Sunday (April 28)’s “Around Colorado” column in the Denver Post will likely be the last time my inky words appear in a newspaper– I wrote about flower gardens to visit in Fort Collins.

I’ve written a column for the majority of my 34 years as a journalist. I wrote about surviving high school for The Voice, skiing for Boulder’s Colorado Daily in college, life as a 20-something for Gannett News Service and life as a lesbian for papers across the country including the crowning glory of The Washington Post.

I was also a news correspondent for the Boston Globe at the time and thought my career had pretty much peaked. Then late in 2011 I got a phone call from Denver Post editor Kyle Wagner asking me to lunch.

Over Italian food at a downtown restaurant, she told me about the new “Out West” section the paper was putting together to launch in the new year.

Her: You would be one of four columnists writing a monthly column to anchor the section.

Me: Really?! What will I be writing about?

Her: Whatever you want. I picked you because of your voice and your roots in this state.

Me: (thankful there was no food in my mouth when it dropped open in shock) No f–king way!

And so it was that in February of 2012 my days as a Denver Post columnist giddily began. I wrote about the importance of imagination in a cookie-cutter world, my efforts to raise independent children in an overprotective era and the healing powers of fishing with my Dad for the first time since my brother died three decades prior. Those were heady days when I frequently heard from readers telling me that I had written about something that was also true for them, although they hadn’t realized it before reading my column.

But then things changed. Out West was no longer viable so we columnists (2 of the original four and two newer comers) were moved to travel, where our topic was narrowed to places to visit within the boundaries of our state–which is dream job too, just for somebody else. This writer’s heart never left the freedom Out West.

This final column is my 87th for the Post. I’ve been at odds with my editors about the content of those columns for the last 50 or so.

Since coming under the ownership of “The Man” aka the hedge fund Alden Global Capital the Post has been turned into a cash cow. They’ve ruthlessly cut the staff (from around 300 down to about 60) and sent the profits from the paper to stockholders instead of re-investing in the paper. Success is measured in web hits, not things that can’t be measured, like storytelling that evokes emotions by connecting us to the commonalities that makes us human.

Enter the “listicle.”  You may have noticed that most of the articles in the paper’s travel section now start with a number. Seven places to watch the sunset, five places to get a good burger while skiing, three waterparks not to list…one way to end Chryss’ career at the Post.

When you find yourself using your platform, your voice, your tiny slice of real estate in the ever-shrinking landscape of print journalism to write lists that are designed to compete with Yelp, well it’s time to say good-bye.

So it’s good-bye to newspapers, that have been so good to me and, most importantly, to the people who read them. Sadly, I think I’m just “on trend.”

I know things have been changing dramatically in the newspaper industry the past two decades. I’ve been telling my journalism students all about it. Last month I sat in a student government meeting where the end of the print version of the New York Times on campus was applauded.  “We’re saving trees,” the student announced. Because in theory the students will all now read it online. But will they? Or will they succumb to the click bait of the latest on the size of Kim Kardashian’s butt? With some notable exceptions, I’m going to say the latter.

The next chapter for me is actual chapters. I’m finally writing the book my life has set out for me, after decades of resisting it.  I’m going to write my brother’s story.

Mark was 15 when he took one of my Dad’s shotguns, climbed the foothill behind our house, looked out over the beautiful vista, including the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park, surrounding our Loveland home and ended his life. I still struggle to understand how he could be looking at something so beautiful and still want to close his eyes forever. His 12-year-old sister was watching Saturday morning cartoons, unaware that her childhood had just ended.

Thirty-eight years later my brother’s killer is still out there, stronger than ever. Suicide is the leading cause of death for 10 to 24 year olds in Colorado. It takes more young people from us than disease or accidents or anything–and we can stop it.  The number one, by far, mitigating factor to stop suicide is a trusted adult children can talk to. Join me, be that adult, save lives.

When that is done I’ll be happy to tell you all the best places to go for a hamburger.

 

 

 

 

Taiwan, Tis of Thee September 27, 2018

Filed under: Taiwan — chrysscada @ 6:44 pm
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A few days before my June trip to Taiwan I looked up on my iPhone what the weather would be like there—well I tried to, but according to Apple I was headed to a place that doesn’t exist.

Eventually I discovered my destination under “Taipei.” There is no mention of Taiwan on any Apple products or apps because the electronics company is just one of the many U.S. companies that is caving to pressure from mainland China to refer to the sovereign island as part of “One China.”

Also just before my trip, U.S. clothing retailer Gap apologized for selling T-shirts with what it says is an “incorrect map” of China because it didn’t include self-ruled Taiwan.

“Upon the realization that one of our T-shirts sold in some overseas markets mistakenly failed to reflect the correct map of China, we urgently launched an internal investigation across the group and have decided to immediately pull back this T-shirt from all the concerned global markets,” the company said in a statement, adding that the shirts had already been pulled from Chinese shelves and destroyed.

During my layover at LAX I discovered China’s bid to reclaim Taiwan as a territory has even taken to the skies. This summer “TW” (the abbreviation for Taiwan) disappeared from arrival and departure boards at airports around the world at China’s request.

QANTAS was the first to give into Chinese “bullying” by making changes to its website and marketing materials so Taiwan is no longer listed as a separate country. Beijing is cracking down on companies that refer to the island of Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), as a different nation to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This is despite them having separate governments for 70 years, since the formation of the Communist regime on the mainland.

Airlines are motivated to stay in the good graces of China, which The International Air Transport Association forecasts will surpass the United States as the world’s top aviation market by 2020.

And so it came to be Christmas in July for Beijing when American Airlines and Delta updated their websites on July 25 to show they fly to Taipei, with no mention of Taiwan. A few hours earlier, both websites offered flights to “Taipei, Taiwan.” United also removed references to “TW” from its website, dropping country designations for all cities in Taiwan and China.

So it was before I had even landed in Taiwan (which is a real place btw, just ask the 23 million people who live there), that I became aware of the pressure its under from its domineering “motherland.”

 

Pressure Politics

When my media delegation entered the lobby of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs we were greeted by the flags of the 18 countries that are diplomatic allies with Taiwan. Just a month earlier there had been 20 flags on display.  Giving in to relentless pressure from communist PRC, the Dominican Republic broke ties with Taiwan on May 1 and Burkina Faso followed on May 24. At that rate of attrition there won’t be any flags in the lobby a year from now.

As an American I naturally looked for the stars and stripes, but they weren’t in the line up. Official relations between Taiwan and the United States ended in 1979 when the U.S. recognized Beijing. We have an unofficial relationship that involves the establishment of the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.

Diplomats say our policy of “deliberate ambiguity” between the U.S. and Taiwan is important to stabilize cross-strait relations. In other words we’re keeping our relationship on the down low as to not upset China. “Sorry, you mean the world to me, but we need to maintain ‘deliberate ambiguity’ so we don’t upset my wife.”

Yes, to me it seems we are keeping Taiwan as a mistress—and is usually the case in these situations, she deserves better.

The second day I was in Taiwan, a new $255.6 million AIT compound was dedicated (I guess my invitation got lost in the mail), a big reinvestment in our relationship with Taiwan that again feels like setting up our someone “on the side” in her fancy new place.

At the dedication, US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce spoke of the “wide affection Americans have for Taiwan across the political aisle, in the executive and legislative branches alike, at all levels of government and throughout American society.”

When with Taiwan we express our affection for her, but we don’t invite her when the whole global family gets together. With a population equivalent to Australia, Taiwan is the most populous state in the world not represented at the United Nations.

“While Taiwan’s valuable contributions have been widely acclaimed around the globe, the UN continues to ignore what Taiwan can offer,” wrote Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu as the 73rdGeneral Assembly convened in September. “The UN has refused to accredit Taiwan’s journalists covering its meetings and activities, yet the work of such people is in the interests of the people of Taiwan and the world.”

As a reporter and a journalism instructor, it is my informed opinion that when people don’t want reporters around they have something to hide.

 

“Over the past years, China has been lobbying in every possible way to isolate Taiwan on the international stage, including preventing its journalists from doing their job,” writes Reporters without Borders secretary general Christophe Deloire in a Sept. 19t, 2018 letter calling for the UN “to accredit all journalists of good faith, regardless of their nationality or the place of origin of their media.”

 

A Work in Progress

On my last day in Taiwan during a visit to the Central News Agency, I puzzled a room of journalists by asking if they had any equivalent to the freedom of the press provided to American journalists by the First Amendment.

“No, nothing like that,” finally answered  Jenjey Chen, editor in chief of the government-funded news agency.

Like many freedoms in this fledgling democracy, free speech is not an absolute. During my visit the government was discussing putting people in jail for three days as punishment for sharing “fake news” on Facebook.

People are officially allowed to protest, but only in a controlled manner. During my visit, huge barbed-wire barricades were erected around government buildings in anticipation of protests to changes in government worker’s pension plans.

When the generation of Taiwanese who have known only democracy (refered to as “natural independents”) stage peaceful protests in defense of their freedoms, the press on the mainland write about the “chaos of democracy.”

Democracy is messy, more so than ever in the United States. Since the early morning hours of Nov. 7, 2016, I’ve struggled with being a part of a country that elected someone like Donald Trump to our highest office. And while I still struggle everyday with the actions of our president, my trip to Taiwan restored my belief in the system of government that elected him.

Taiwan deserves the promise of Democracy: that there is always another election ahead.

 

Taiwan ROCs Democracy September 20, 2018

Filed under: Taiwan — chrysscada @ 5:30 pm
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Taipei—It was clear that the Taiwanese Minister of Foreign Affairs had been working on his “I-mean-business” face.

 

“We feel offended, when we are referred to as ‘Chinese Taipei’,” Dr. Jaushieh Wu said sternly, forcing the natural upturn of his smile into a straight line of lips pressed together. “In the interest of our shared values of freedom, democracy and respecting human rights we must resist Chinese expansionism.”

 

Flanked by six staff members at the long wooden table, the “we” Wu was directing his comments toward was an international delegation of media from pro-democratic countries.

 

And though he swept his gaze across my fellow journalists; who heralded from Poland, Germany, Fiji, The Bahamas and Australia, I couldn’t help but feel his eyes come to rest on me— the lone representative from the U.S. of A.

 

I might have written it off as jet lag (after all, I had spent 19 hours of the previous day on an airplane), except it kept happening again and again during my week-long visit to the Republic of China (Taiwan).

 

With an official name like that, you can see how people might get confused about the relationship between China and Taiwan. Before being tapped for the trip by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Denver, I’ll admit to being fuzzy on the distinction between the two my self.

 

But during my time in Taiwan I learned that for anyone who thinks democracy is a good thing, the distinction between mainland China and the tiny island republic of Taiwan is an imperative one to make.

 

 

What’s in a Name?

 

To begin with, as a writing instructor I struggle with Taiwan being in the parenthesis where the acronym is supposed to be. According to the style I teach my Colorado State University students it would be “Republic of China” on first reference and then “ROC” thereafter. But notice how that leaves out Taiwan altogether? That won’t do. In fact mentioning China and not Taiwan in reference to this island republic is the first step in the mainland’s effort to erase the island’s sovereignty.

 

The ROC/Taiwan name game reminds me of the “Better Homes and Gardens” magazines in my parents basement addressed to “Mrs. Frank Edward Cada.”  The label implies that when Dorothy Michalek married Frank Cada she traded in her sovereign state to become a lesser extension of my Dad.

 

The Taiwanese are their own people, 23.55 million strong. They are about 95 percent Han Chinese, 2 percent indigenous Malayo-Polynesian and 2 percent new immigrants, primarily from Southeast Asia.  Their government, and this is the important part, is a multi-party democracy.

 

Of the 22,500 square miles that make up the main island and islets of Taiwan, about half is covered in forested mountains and foothills. The Republic is a land of 1,000 miles of beaches and abundant flora and fauna. Named “Ilha Formosa” (beautiful island) by Europeon sailors in the 1500s, Taiwan has been occupied by many dynasties, including Qing and governments including Dutch, Spanish and Japanese.

 

Since the Japanese surrender of Taiwan after World War II, mainland China has had jurisdiction over Taiwan, while each under different governments. The communist government in Beijing has never exercised sovereignty over democratic Taiwan—is what the official party line reads.

 

Taiwan adopted a democratic constitution in 1947, but it was frozen in 1949 when the Republic was put under Marshall Law by the communist government in Bejing.

 

It was 1987 before these wartime restrictions were lifted and the country was able to begin building a democracy. It was 1991 before the Taiwanese first freely elected their congress and 1996 before they freely elected a president by popular vote.

 

Taiwan and I have been on the same timeline for independence. I graduated high school in 1986 and was finding my way around adulthood in the 1990s. I feel Taiwan’s pain–my “Motherland” has had trouble letting go as well.

 

In recent years Beijing has gotten more aggressive in its efforts to bring Taiwan back into their control. Taiwan, no match for China’s military, is pushing back in this war of words, enlisting journalists—including this American one–to fight the good fight for democracy.

 

 

To Be Continued

 

Taiwhaa…Taiwan? Wait, Why? July 4, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — chrysscada @ 11:08 pm

During the historic (and bizarre) U.S.-North Korean summit was an interesting time to be the only American on a media delegation to Taiwan–especially considering I had no idea why I was there.

I’m still trying to figure out how a freelance journalist from Colorado who primarily writes about skiing and travel in my home state, ended up in Asia with my “serious journalist” hat on during the continent’s most anticipated political summit in decades.

I sure as hell didn’t fly in with Trump on his plane. The fact that I can’t bring myself to say Air Force One in connection with Donald Trump tells you that I still can’t believe the crooked businessman turned TV-ratings-hungry huckster is somehow our … p-p-p can’t do it.

I’m so far removed from the political science minor I paired with my journalism major at the University of Colorado, that it wasn’t even on my radar that Trump and Kim Jong-un would being having their historic luncheon-length summit while I was spending a week in Taiwan complements of the “Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s Digital Media Group on Taiwan’s Political and Economic Development.”  Long title  right? I thought so when I read the program for my trip for the first time on my flight from Denver to LA.

My June 10 flight was the first chance I’d had to really think about the trip after the end-of-school-year busyness that comes from being the mother of 11 and 13-year-old daughters. Shirley from Taiwan’s Denver office (they have 20 around the States) had sent me the itinerary a month before my departure, but I had only glanced at it (and considering 95 percent of it was in Chinese, it was a pretty useless glance at that).

Shirley and I met for lunch a week before my departure at P.F. Changs in a northern Colorado shopping center near my house. It was her choice, and the fact that her last name is also Chang wasn’t lost on me. As we settled into a booth she confided in me that she, “Loves American Chinese food,” signaling to me that there is actually another kind.

Apparently the “pointed questions” in my journalistic quiver have dulled from misuse, because we were considering desert and I still didn’t know why this lovely, soft-spoken woman and the government she represents were sending me around the world.

Finally I told her that I couldn’t guarantee my usual outlets,  The Denver Post, Colorado Life magazine etc. would publish an article on Taiwan–and in fact I doubted they would. Then I finally asked the big question, “Shirley, why is Taiwan interested in me?”

Without a blink she responded, “Taiwan needs friends.”

To Be Continued

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Teach Journalism February 7, 2018

Filed under: Are You Ok? — chrysscada @ 9:45 pm
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By Chryss Cada

In the past I’ve considered my annual teaching assessment as an unnecessary hoop to jump through to prove my worth to the journalism department at Colorado State University. This year I’m going to take it as an opportunity to explain my teaching methods, so get comfortable.

I inherited my first 210 (newswriting) class three days into the fall 2000 semester. I had applied a year prior when I saw an ad in the classified section of the Fort Collins Coloradoan (younger readers please Google “classified ads”), but an opening had not been available until a scheduling snafu came up that fall. I jumped at the opportunity even though I had no prior experience teaching, much less holding the lofty title of “adjunct professor” at a university.

Lee Peck, who was an editor at the Coloradoan during the eight years I worked there as a reporter, had been teaching 210 for years and was kind enough to share many of her teaching materials. I still use some of them and pass the originals around so my students can feel what the imprint of actual typewriter keys feels like.

She also shared the advice that I could be a friend to my students, but should be wary of getting too entangled in their personal lives. I’m pretty sure I’ve broken this rule a couple of times.

Armed with Lee’s advice, handouts and AP style quiz reviews, I headed into C255 for my first 6 p.m. Newswriting Course (the same section that I have taught for the past 19 years). I stood at the front of the class, looked up at 18 sets of eyes fixed on mine and froze like a deer in headlights.

It was only minutes into that first class that my teaching style began to develop. I was in my late 20s, only a few years older than the many non-traditional students in my class and no more than 10 years older than my youngest freshman/woman. There would be no “Ms. Cada,” nor would I call them by their last names—they were my peers, interested in uncovering the truth and telling the world about it or representing public relations clients in an honest way or just telling fans the way the game really went down.

The truth and how to tell it in the real world has always been at the core of my teaching. That’s why I still write for the Denver Post and other newspapers and magazines—and continually strive for new outlets for my work.

My approach is continually validated in my student course evaluations and most recently by a letter to Journalism and Technical Communication faculty from Rocky Mountain Collegian editor Erin Douglas.

“Courses tend to lack a “real world” perspective, with a few exceptions,” she writes of her concerns with the education the Department is providing its students.

Having the press come under attack since the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, has provided an increased challenge for journalism instructors and students alike.

Sen. John McCain wrote of this challenge in a Jan. 16, 2018 op-ed piece in The Washington Post.

“President Ronald Reagan recognized that as leader of the free world, his words carried enormous weight, and he used them to inspire the unprecedented spread of democracy around the world,” McCain wrote. “President Trump does not seem to understand that his rhetoric and actions reverberate in the same way.

“He has threatened to continue his attempt to discredit the free press by bestowing “fake news awards” upon reporters and news outlets whose coverage he disagrees with. “

As evidence of the power of Trump’s anti-press rhetoric, McCain refers to the Committee to Protect Journalists finding that 2017 was one of the most dangerous years to be a journalist. Last year, the organization documented 262 cases of journalists being imprisoned for their work.

“Reporters around the world face intimidation, threats of violence, harassment, persecution and sometimes even death as governments resort to brutal censorship to silence the truth,” McCain continues. “Whether Trump knows it or not, these efforts are being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shutter one of the key pillars of democracy.”

While some students are inspired by this new challenge, others doubt their decision to join such a vilified profession. At the very least, it’s scaring the hell out of a lot of them.

During the past three semesters I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with this strain on my students not only because they are young journalists, but also because many of them her themselves being identified as “different” or “others.” Some are Latinex students who feel the effects of our crude public discourse on immigration. Some have a sexual identity that suddenly feels scary to talk about.

But the overwhelming issue with my students now is mental illness and/or emotional issues. In my 210 class last semester, four of my students wrote, “I have depression” under “Anything else you’d like to tell me?” section of my class entry form.

During the course of the semester I had a different student unable to attend class due to “overwhelming anxiety” (a condition that she backed up with a doctor’s note). One student was the victim (although I hate to use that word) of sexual assault and unable to get out of bed and come to class most days (she also had documentation).

Because of my own background in suicide (Since my brother took his own life at age 15 I’ve been through extensive training in suicide prevention), I believe I have intervened in several suicides during the years.

I unapologetically care for my students first as people, and secondly as developing journalists. In 19 years that hasn’t affected the quality of what my students learn in my class.

With a handful of exceptions (there are some students who discover they aren’t really interested in journalism after 210, their first writing course), my students go on to do impressive things in this field. I know this because they keep in touch.

Through the years literally hundreds of students have written to let me know the difference my class made in their careers. Nothing personal, but I treasure these notes more than any review or accolade from the University. Many times it’s not the writing skills I taught them that student attribute with their success.

“I keep thinking how I would have never had this opportunity to intern here (Rooster magazine) and have my work published if you hadn’t encouraged us to take a risk and reach out,” wrote a female student from my magazine writing class last year. “Your lessons will truly be ones that I will remember forever. I owe a lot of this success to you!!
In a nutshell (or as we say in the biz “a nut graph”), my teaching philosophy is: I’m in front of a class to give the students in it all the knowledge I have—as a journalist and a human being.

 

The Last Goodbye December 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — chrysscada @ 6:42 pm

In the three days since a childhood friend of mine died, I’ve been trying to understand why I feel such a great sense of loss for someone I haven’t had a real conversation with in decades.

I think it’s because I didn’t ever tell him goodbye properly—and now I’ll never have the chance.

While the loss of his family and close friends is immeasurably greater, those of us who had Kevin in our life for a shorter time are also grappling for footing after his sudden exit from this world. He was skiing at Breckenridge with his family Monday (something they’ve surely done countless times before), when he hit a tree and died. Just like that his time came to an end.

Kevin Pitts and I met in middle school. He lived in the same neighborhood as several of my other close friends at the time and we shared interests like drama, debate, newspaper and French at school. It’s a friendship I don’t remember starting, it’s just feels like the comfort and love between us were always there.

Handsome and kind, he had his share of young women in his life, but they weren’t there for the same reason I was. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, Kevin played a very important role in my adolescence: he was a brother to me when I needed one the most.

My brother, Mark, was a sensitive boy who looked out for his little sister as best he could in a world that wasn’t kind to him. He took his own life when he was 15 and I was 12.

At a time when my own family felt so empty, the Pitts home was full to the brim. His parents, Tom and Ena, were gregarious and full of Southern Charm. Erin, a year younger than Kevin, always had a welcome smile on her face and listened to me long after even the most gracious person would be expected to.

I loved them all, but Kevin was special.

I didn’t realize it at the time, and I still don’t know exactly how he did it, but Kevin always made me feel better.

Maybe it was his silly sense of humor (he had a t-shirt printed up that said “My Parents are the Pitts”).

Maybe it was the lightness of his being (he even seemed to walk on tip toes).

Maybe it was the way you could tell him anything and he was always on your side.

Maybe it was that fabulous hair.

Whatever it was about him, Kevin always made me feel that with people like him in it, the world was indeed a good place.

I never thanked him for that, and now I’ll never be able to. The problem is you rarely know when you are saying goodbye to someone for the last time. If you did know it was the last time you would talk, you would tell them things. You would tell him you are glad you met each other in the first place. You would tell her that you are thankful for the time you spent together. If it was the last time you were seeing your friend, you would say “I Love You.” That’s what you would do if you knew—but you don’t.

So I’m telling his wife and his children and his Mom and his sister and anyone else who cares to read this. But in my deepest heart I still really, really wish I could tell him myself.

 

The Worth of an Adjunct September 6, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — chrysscada @ 4:10 am

 

 

Labor Day, 2016

 

 

Tony Frank, President, Colorado State University

Benjamin C. Withers, Dean, College of Liberal Arts

Greg Luft, Chair, Department of Journalism and Media Communication

Rick Miranda, Provost and Executive Vice President

Dan Bush, Vice Provost

Grant Polzer, Business and Financial Services

 

Dear Gentlemen,

 

As a journalist of 30 years and an instructor in Colorado State’s Department of Journalism for 17, I thought I knew better than anyone the power of words. But I hadn’t experienced their full force until I received my offer letter for this academic year. It began:

 

We are pleased to offer you a part-time special 9-month appointment at the academic rank of special Instructor at Colorado State University at a starting 9-month salary of $40,120, plus benefits, and a start date of August 16, 2016.

 

That one sentence literally changed my life—as it would for any adjunct professor. It said the work I do with students has real value. It said that sharing three decades of excellence in my profession with people aspiring to join that profession meant as much to society as getting the toppings right on a person’s sandwich. That one sentence meant I could spend more time with my students and researching the many changes in my field and less time on projects to bring in much-needed supplemental income.

 

I spent last month living that new life, in a world where University officials recognized the contributions of adjuncts. And then payday arrived and that new life ended. My salary is half what the letter stated; roughly $5,000 per semester per class or $20,000 for the academic year. This was a shock considering that my offer letter nowhere mentioned the stated number was a full-time salary. I’m part-time and have been my entire tenure at the University.

 

As a freelance writer I’ve signed hundreds of contracts for my work. I have gotten paid by the hour, by the article, by the inch and even by the word. I understand contracts, but I’ve never seen one where I would be getting paid half the amount appearing in the contract. My last 32 offer letters were for the semester and have stated the amount I would make per class. That amount was roughly $4,000 when I started in 2000 and was $4,750 per class in the spring semester of this year.

Typically I would be thrilled with $60-a-month raise. After all, I’ve gotten used to teaching at the college level for compensation hovering near minimum wage. I’ve accepted this unacceptable wage because, like other adjuncts, I teach not for money, but because I love what I do.

 

 

I love the moment when a student who has struggled with a concept finally gets it. I cherish the letters from past students saying that my class set them on the road to the success they are now enjoying. And honestly I care for my students as individuals. Many of my students are freshman, away from home for the first time, and need to know that someone on this teeming campus sees them, hears them and cares if they are OK.

 

I’ve gotten used to teaching as an act of charity, but then I got this year’s offer letter and believed it could be something more. After a glimpse into that world, I’m finding it difficult to go back into a system that thrives on the unjust subservience of others. I find it difficult to explain why I work with such dedication for such little compensation. I find it difficult to explain to my students and my own daughters, because I would never want any of them to be exploited this way.

 

Perhaps most importantly, after finding out I won’t be receiving an equitable salary, I can no longer explain this exploitation to myself.

 

You most likely expect me to end this letter with my resignation. I’ve already met my students for the semester and will not put them in the position of losing an instructor once class has begun. Maybe I need to take a stand and quit before next semester starts. Maybe after I voice my opinions in this letter I won’t be asked back next academic year. Both of those options sadden me because I’m good at what I do, I love what I do and there are so many students out there yet to meet and usher into the noble profession of journalism.

 

Thank you for reading this letter and giving consideration to its contents.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Chryss Cada

Instructor, Department of Journalism and Media Communication

 

 

CC: Amparo Jeffrey, HR Liaison

Jennifer Aberle, Adjunct Committee

Newsdesk, Rocky Mountain Collegian

Newsdesk, Fort Collins Coloradoan

Newsdesk, The Denver Post