The myriad of personalities at Colorado State University motivates Lauren Wester to serve the student body.
“At the end of the day, our individualities make us valuable — inherently valuable,” Wester said. “Who is to say that one person’s ideas aren’t as good as another’s?”
After hearing the platforms of the other candidates, Wester and her running mate Filipp Dedogryuk announced their candidacy Thursday.
“We do think some of the ideas (of the other teams) are wonderful,” Dedogryuk said. “We do, however, have some of our own ideas that we want to put out there.”
While the two acknowledge the unique challenge of being write-in candidates, they are optimistic about the results. They say that interacting with students makes running for ASCSU president and vice president a rewarding process.
“Regardless (of) who wins, we’re going to be helping the students,” Dedogryuk said. “That’s what really brings hope to me.”
Calling themselves “The Open Door Campaign,” their vision involves improving the transparency between ASCSU and student body. They want to encourage all branches of student government to reach out to their constituents, improve relations with student media and increase student awareness about the function of ASCSU.
By implementing a student absentee policy, expanding the space of the Resources for Disabled Students Office, encouraging the use of open source textbooks and improving collaboration between faith communities in the community, they say they want to support students emotionally, spiritually and academically.
The team also wants to address transportation and parking by looking into creating a program like MAX on on the west side of campus, championing buses down Elizabeth St. to address the overflow of traffic and expanding awareness about car pooling services.
“I’m passionate about being a person who creates impact,” Wester said. “I want to be a person who inspires change, who inspires growth — not only at the organizational level, but also at an individual, person level.”
Presidential candidate: Lauren Wester
When Lauren Wester was 15, she bought her first horse. An untrained mustang, Wester says it taught her important skills that she uses now in her presidential campaign.
“My parents said that I had to pay for the entire thing,” Wester said. “That’s really how I learned my work ethic — through jobs, I had to work to pay for it.”
While the junior international studies major describes herself as diligent, she says service is most important to her.
“I’ve been given skills, leadership abilities and a heart to serve people,” Wester said. “I’m passionate about horses, but I’m more passionate about people. I’m more passionate about helping people.”
Wester did not originally plan on attending college. The Monument native instead wanted to train as an equestrian. However, after working at a Russian orphanage immediately after graduating high school, she decided to pursue a career in diplomacy.
“After this trip, I realized, wow, my life needs to be orientated around impacting people, not orientated around something I want to do,” Wester said. “That’s kind of how my whole life has played out.”
Robert Jordan, a history professor, has taught Wester in three upper division classes.
“(She’s passionate about) human stories and experiences,” Jordan said. “She always tries to see how the topics we cover in the history class into the contemporary period, to see how those can be an outlet for positive change now. … She is a person that you can tell cares about other people.”
Wester says she loves learning about various cultures.
“Even the regional differences within the United States fascinate me,” Wester said.
According to Bethany Hettinger, a junior international studies major, Wester overflows with ideas.
“She always is talking to me about what she wants to do — what she wants to change,” Hettinger said. “She always aims to go higher than herself. She’s very passionate.”
Hettinger is a close friend of Wester, saying she has seen the candidate overcome many challenges since they first met their freshman year. Wester suffered with a chronic illness for six years, which motivated the programs she sponsored during her two years at ASCSU. Her initiative, the Chronic Health Mentoring Program, connects students suffering from illnesses with upperclassman experiencing similar issues.
“I knew coming into college that (living with my illness) would be difficult,” Wester said. “I have the determination and the will to fight when it’s necessary.”
Wester says she wants to fight for the diverse student population, especially for international students and spiritual groups. While at ASCSU, she initiated the first Faith, Belief and Spirituality Fair at CSU. She said she wants to find meaningful connections at the University and is unafraid to develop innovative ideas.
“My goal while being at ASCSU has been to take those blinders off,” Wester said. “I want to dream bigger than what has been previously established through tradition or the norms we have in the organization.”
Vice presidential candidate: Filipp Dedogryuk
Proudly displaying intricate woodwork, Filipp Dedogryuk explains his love for unconventional arts, including wood burning and blacksmithing.
“He gives everything. He does his all,” said Rhiannin Bunney, a close friend of Dedogryuk’s and a junior English major. “He’s a very passionate person and will spend a long time devoted to whatever he’s interested in.”
Bunney said that Dedogryuck wants all students to experience the University with the same spirit he has.
“That’s why he reached out to me,” Bunney said. “I was just a freshman girl in the dining hall. He started talking to me because he didn’t want me to be lonely. That’s why we’re friends.”
According to junior computer science major Adam Lynch, this passion flows into every area of Dedogryuk’s life. From working in the Corbett dining hall, to researching memory, the junior psychology major lives actively.
“He’s one of the most interesting people that most people might ever meet,” Lynch said. “His life experiences have been to a point that he has a lot of unique insights that other people don’t have.”
Born in Russia, but raised in Colorado, Dedogryuk says that he wants his peers to have the best possible experience at CSU. As a student paying his own tuition, he says he understands the financial woes his classmates discuss. He is very passionate about encouraging open source textbooks.
“College really should not be this expensive,” Dedogryuk said. “I see students burdened by money and some of them can’t afford textbooks. … I can’t tell professors what to do, but I can advocate for the students.”
He emphasizes his desire to interact with students. Whether asking about the University programs they use, to making small talk in the residence halls, he said he tries to empathize with his peers.
“I try to make as many jokes as I can in a single moment with a customer (at the dining hall),” Dedogryuk said. “I’ve come across hard times. I’ve had friends pass. I have had to face that loss. I have faced the loss of being betrayed. I want to support (the students here).”
Lynch, who used to be a senator with ASCSU, said that Dedogryuk has the energy the organization needs.
“There’s not a lot being done in Senate,” Lynch said. “Filipp is the perfect mix of all of these volatile qualities to put some life back into the organization. He really does care.”
Further information about the Wester-Dedogryuk campaign can be found on Facebook, and voting will occur between April 6 and April 8.
Collegian Diversity Beat Reporter Hannah Ditzenberger can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @h_ditzenberger.