The University of Montana campus

The University of Montana campus in Missoula is pictured in this file photo.

Sorry for the lag since last newsletter, Under the M subscribers. These past two weeks, I’ve filled in for colleagues to cover a Missoula City Council candidates’ forum, the reaction to a tragic death in Hardin and an epic blizzard on the Rocky Mountain Front. (See photo.) Events on campus have kept me busy, too.

Heart Butte Peak

Heart Butte Peak and the town of Heart Butte are covered under a blanket of snow on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, sports reporter Frank Gogola was busy with a big event off campus. In an unexpected victory, the Grizzlies crushed U.C. Davis 45-20 in California this weekend. Frank had this story about Grizzlies linebacker Dante Olson and the young pen pals he's inspired from an underprivileged rural area. 

UM’s long-awaited fall enrollment numbers came out last Tuesday, and they show another drop. Last month, UM Vice President for Enrollment Cathy Cole told me that they’re still waiting for their turnaround efforts to register in the enrollment numbers. But UM has already lost enough students to draw national attention: last week, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that “no public flagship has been hollowed out more in the last decade than the University of Montana at Missoula.”

But this unfortunate distinction hasn’t brought UM to a halt. The administration made some accommodations so that students could take part in last week’s Global Climate Strike, although students would have rallied for their future regardless.

Wildlife Biology student Sarah Sriraman told the Montana Kaimin activism is consuming her life: “If I really believe the science, I can’t, in good conscience, sit in class and prepare for a future I’m never going to have.”

And student Michael “Mj” Desrosier followed up the week with more action, a fast to bring attention to climate change. He talked with reporter Eve Bryon:

“I’m just standing in solidarity with the youth who started the climate strike,” Desrosier said. “It’s not a hunger strike, but mainly a fast. It’s more symbolic than anything. At the most, I’m greatly reducing my carbon footprint.”

092519 climate fast-1-tm.jpg

University of Montana undergraduate student Michael “Mj” Desrosier is on Day Four of fasting to portray his support for global climate strike week. “I’m just standing in solidarity with the youth who started the climate strike,” Desrosier said. “It’s not a hunger strike, but mainly a fast. It’s more symbolic than anything. At the most, I’m greatly reducing my carbon footprint.”

Friday, UM President Seth Bodnar welcomed Brad Hall, UM’s new tribal outreach specialist, to campus.

For Native students, Hall told me, advising is "a different type of support, and it's beyond the scope of what advising has been in higher education," he said. Hall’s installation comes amid concerns about the advising options for Native students. But he said that "designing what that (advising role) looks like is something that, I think, is really important to me.”

Hall used to work at Blackfeet Community College, which will be hosting the first-ever tribunal on the issue of missing and murdered indigenous people this Friday and Saturday. Holly Michels will have that story. Because of the subject matter, expect it to be difficult to read — but worthwhile.

ICYMI, the New York Times had this piece a couple of weeks ago about the way people with liberal arts degrees catch up in salaries with people who studied STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. At the Missoula flagship and elsewhere, the status of the humanities and liberal arts have been much debated, but the author makes a clear argument for the value of a liberal arts education. 

Straight from UM:

— Patrick Reilly

Stay current on the University of Montana and other higher education news in Montana with the Missoulian's weekly email, Under the M. This newsletter will land in your email box mostly on Tuesdays. Got a news tip? Want to hear more about something at UM? Missoula College? The Commissioner's Office? Shoot a note to patrick.reilly@missoulian.com. Thank you for reading, and please sign up here if you'd like to subscribe. 

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