A self-described “outsider” candidate, sophomore Daniela Pinedá Soraca said that if elected the Associated Students of Colorado State University president, she wants revitalize the organization. With new running mate Mike Lensky, the current senate membership officer who serves on multiple ASCSU boards, the two believe they bring a diverse skill set to the positions.
Their campaign slogan, “Visionaries for holistic empowerment,” encompasses their vision that the organization will be a place of mutual respect and empathy, as well as interpersonal, individual and environmental education. Their campaign aims to empower students within and outside the organization during what they believe is a “turning point” for ASCSU.
The two philosophies of their campaign are intersectionality and education. Within intersectionality, Pinedá Soraca said she wants to encourage mutual respect and empathy on organizational, campus and community levels.
“As ASCSU, we’re going to have to make sure that the culture in our office is balanced and does not just tell a single story,” Pinedá Soraca said. “(We want to make sure) it tells a story that can advocate for a variety of experiences, and we want to see that changing campus climate and Fort Collins as a community.”
Their philosophy for education includes three pillars: interpersonal, individual and environmental.
Within their interpersonal education philosophy, Pinedá Soraca and Lensky said that not only do they envision the organization as a place of mutual respect and collaboration, they envision it as a campus leader in educating students about different identities.
“We want ASCSU to teach students about cultures, identities and respect, and other factors of the real world that are not necessarily taught by lectures and courses,” Lensky said. “(We want) ASCSU to facilitate this education with other campus partners and student organizations in order to educate our community.”
Lensky said the second pillar of their educational philosophy, individual, relates to their campaign’s desire to work with faculty to look at the core curriculum and the values upheld there in order to improve it.
Their third pillar of education, environmental, relates to their goal of using ASCSU to spread awareness about environmental sustainability, specifically as it relates to alternative transportation and reusability, said Lensky.
Both candidates said they want to encourage more campus involvement through the organization.
“There’s a lot of apathy in politics, but we want to look at how we can revitalize how we view politics as millenials,” Pinedá Soraca said. “It doesn’t have to be an arena. Everything is interconnected. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel (to get students involved). Working with campus partners to increase student engagement is a phone call away. We need to broaden the methods of how we are reaching students.”
Presidential Candidate: Daniela Pinedá Soraca
Pinedá Soraca was born in Colombia, but was raised in Fort Collins since kindergarten. Her experience growing up in Fort Collins has equipped her to bring new perspectives on community issues, such as ASCSU’s petition for Me+3, she said.
“Having grown up here my whole life, I would like to work with city council, different housing entities, apartment complexes, landlords and property managers,” Pinedá Soraca said. “There are all places we can visit to tackle this issue. When I take a step back, I see that this law has effected my family and my community, and it is an outdated model.”
Pinedá Soraca said she wants to get students engaged with the issue.
“We need to get key stakeholders involved and utilize the perspectives and skills that we’re learning at this university to (accomplish Me+3),” Pinedá Soraca said.
She was involved with the Fort Collins community and with the CSU campus before she began her higher education because of her volunteer work with Native American non-profit organizations. She has continued her work with the Native American community through her job as an Inclusive Community Assistant for Braiden Hall.
Pinedá Soraca said because of this role, she is heavily trained in diversity and social justice, which she believes has equipped her to face the challenges of a turning point in the organization after the passage of the diversity bill.
“Diversity and social justice has been a big theme for ASCSU this year,” Pinedá Soraca said. “(In the organization) I want to have a theme of mutual respect and empathy so that we can be productive and so that students look up to our organization.”
As a student, Pinedá Soraca is pursuing a double major in international studies and business with a concentration in innovation and organization management. She also has declared a minor in international development.
Pinedá Soraca wants a future career in humanitarian efforts internationally, but said she believes that any humanitarian effort first starts at home.
To accomplish her goals of empowerment, Pinedá Soraca said she will revitalize the purpose of ASCSU, particularly the hiring process, in order to ensure that members are transitioned into the organization in a way that they feel valued.
“Once we can empower our students, no matter what walk of life they come from, and train our campus, they’re going to leave CSU feeling empowered not just through the classes they take but through every aspect of their experience here at CSU,” Pinedá Soraca said. “What better body to serve as an outlet and vessel for this than ASCSU?”
Vice Presidential Candidate: Mike Lensky
After Timothy Curry was found ineligible for the position based on a GPA requirement, Pinedá Soraca quickly decided to run with Lensky instead. The candidates said they are big believers that fate brought them together, because they share a common vision for the organization.
As a sophomore business finance and accounting major with a minor in statistics, Lensky is an associate senator for the College of Business and has been the senate membership officer since the fall of 2015. He also serves on the student fee review board, works on the off campus life advisory board and sits on the alternative transportation fee advisory board.
In contrast to his presidential running mate, Lensky is very involved in ASCSU and said he believes the combination will strengthen their campaign.
“We both bring different elements to the table,” Lensky said. “Something that stood out to me was her vision for ASCSU. (The organization) is at a turning point, and we need new and old ideas as a partnership for the transition.”
Pinedá Soraca said she does not intend to “turn everything upside down,” in the organization, but would rather build upon the foundation while creating the foundation of teamwork and respect.
Lensky said that because of his experience within the organization, he is ready to “pick up the torch” for Me+3.
“I plan to continue the work towards Me+3, and if it goes to election, a big focus is going to be making sure students are registered to vote in Fort Collins,” Lensky said. “One thing I really value is coming together and working with all three branches of ASCSU (towards a goal).”
Voting for ASCSU president and vice president will take place on April 4, 5, and 6, 2016 on Ramweb.
Collegian ASCSU reporter Erin Douglas can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @erinmdouglas.