While not all of student government’s 2012 campaign promises have been fulfilled, according to President Regina Martel, this year’s administration has been able to make big progress towards completing their mission — some steps of which have never been done before by any recent administration.
A big area of focus for the Associated Students of CSU this semester was becoming more involved with state politics.
“We wanted to be a larger presence at the capitol,” Martel said. “We want to be more vocal on issues that could impact students at CSU. So far it’s been really positive!”
One of the recent ventures ASCSU undertook involved pushing a bill through the Colorado Congress.
“The bill would instigate a textbook tax holiday across the entire state,” said ASCSU Director of Governmental Relations Lindon Belshe. “The bill would create a day where all textbooks bought on campus bookstores would be tax-free.”
The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Dominick Moreno and Sen. John Kefalas, and it was Moreno who introduced the bill to the house. The motion to send bill through failed, but the bill has not been killed, according to Belshe.
“It’s suspended indefinitely,” he said. “It’s currently floating there, sort of in a limbo.”
While their first attempt at passing a bill through the state congress did not go as planned, both Martel and Belshe claim that ASCSU will continue to play a larger role at the capitol.
“We’re spending time at the capitol to make sure that we make some strong contacts,” Belshe said.
“Being a freshman I haven’t been exposed to too much of the politics on campus, but it feels like a really active student voice,” freshmen English education major Jordan Vlieger said regarding ASCSU’s efforts on behalf of students at the capitol. “From what I’ve seen, I’ve seen a lot of representation of students and heard a lot and read a lot in the newspaper that they’re representing students.”
According to ASCSU Vice President Joseph Eden, one of the bigger concerns for this year’s administration was increasing participation in student Senate.
“We promised students when we ran that we would do our best to increase participation in student government and ensure that the most directly representative group of students on campus, the ASCSU Senate, was as full as possible,” Eden wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Immediately following the elections last spring, only 16 Senators had completed applications to be elected representatives for their respective colleges.”
Eden said that at the beginning of the semester, only 18 of the 36 available senate seats were filled. Additionally, with growing enrollment, the number of available senate seats jumped up to 39.
“We knew we had some work to do,” he said.
Eden explained that the issue had become a large priority for ASCSU and also the Department of University Affairs. Some changes occurred within the department at the beginning of the spring semester; since then, there has been a rise in student representation.
“We currently have only six seats open of the 39, but get closer and closer every day to filling the remaining seats,” he said.
Eden also stated that ASCSU is working to solve what he called the “real root of the problem.”
“We have also been working on making Senate more accountable and desirable by making it an elective course which students could take (most likely for only a single credit) should they get elected,” he wrote. “However, this is still in the works and it is uncertain as to whether or not that will be able to happen.”
Eden hopes that this will aid in making student Senate more desirable and well representative of the student body.
Another area of great concern for ASCSU involved RamRide, which will soon be celebrating its ten year anniversary.
“RamRide takes up a lot of our bandwidth,” Martel said. “We’ve never ran 19 to 20 cars over the weekend like this until the last three years or so.”
Martel stated that she is looking into instituting a new dispatch system — one she hopes will be more effective.
“The only problem is is that a new system is very expensive,” she said.
Martel is also hoping to find new incentives to bring in RamRide volunteers to the program.
“It’s not something that we’ll be able to have all taken care of by the end of the semester,” she said. “But it’s something that I want to help set up the next group for that.”
RamRide is not the only issue that will have to carry over into the next administration. According to Martel, instituting bike libraries at CSU has become a longer process than she originally thought.
“It’s not just about what’s good for CSU,” she said, “but also what’s good for all of Fort Collins.”
The bike library would allow students and community members to rent bikes from select locations and be able to ride them almost anywhere in town. The stations for these bike libraries would extend from campus and into other areas in Fort Collins, such as Old Town.
Other initiatives still in the works include improving Wi-Fi connections across campus and the “green-greener-greenest” rubric, which grades departments at CSU based on their efforts to reduce their environmental impact.
“It’s important for students to note that we’re trying to do everything with students’ best interests in mind,” Martel said. “We want to work not only with the university’s longterm plans, but also remember student needs.”
There were many areas upon which Martel hoped her administration would improve. One of those involved reaching out to students personally.
“We no longer just have a “doors open” policy,” she said. “We go out and reach students on the plaza and in other areas.”
Connor Rock, a sophomore marketing major, agrees that this year’s administration has been more personable.
“They do a great job of outreach,” he said. “Even though I don’t know any of them personally they are very approachable.”
Senior Reporter Sean Meeds can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org