“Negativity” is negative, President McClure. Time to Change the Tune


Former Adams State University (ASU) President David Svaldi repeatedly, and without irony, complained about complainers. He wrote at least two opinion pieces for the Valley Courier wherein he complained about ASU employees complaining.

“Complaining about complainers” has become part of ASU’s culture. Anyone proposing anything other than the most innocuous improvement is guilty of implicitly criticizing the guardians of the status quo. Dr. Svaldi appeared to be in a perpetual state of umbrage.  Despite being a former English professor, Dr. Svaldi never really understood the difference between “complainers” and “whiners,” and ASU has suffered for it.

Whiners are indeed ignoble creatures because they are simply self-indulgent. They tend to constantly vent but don’t want to put any effort into helping fix the situation that so offends them. Complainers, or more accurately, complainants, on the other hand, are pointing out that something needs fixing, are expecting something to be done about it, and if given the chance, will help with the fix.

A complaint is a key performance indicator for any organization. But instead of seeing a complaint as an early warning system, ASU prefers to pretend that everything is just fine; “thank you and have a nice day.”

Current ASU President Beverlee McClure has introduced her own version of this vice. Anyone who is not happy with the status quo is “negative.” In almost all of her recent meetings with campus groups and departments, she has used the words “negativity” or “toxic” in reference to people whose ideas are critical of the policies and practices of ASU as an institution.

Almost no one is negative simply for the sake of it. If Dr. McClure lays aside her hat as “leader,” puts on her listening ears, and seeks to discover the cause of criticism, then she might learn that these “negative people” are bursting with enthusiasm to help fix things.

Capitalize on this energy, don’t dismiss the individual as “negative.”