The Colorado State University Political Science Department drove Josh Williams’ decision to choose CSU over Northern Arizona University in 2014. CSU was a new school with new people, but that didn’t stop Josh from being politically active and involving himself in the student government.
Freshman year, he was accepted into the Key Service and Global Sustainability Cluster, a year-long program. It was new page in Josh’s life, but he was ready for it. He ended up running for the Vice President of Braiden Hall through Hall Council; even though he lost the campaign, his Residence Director, Jackie, mentioned an open senator seat in the Resident Hall Association.
“I don’t know what that is, but I’ll take it,” Josh said.
In his position, Josh chose to be the liaison to the Associated Students of Colorado State University in fall of 2014. He was a freshman student, so he didn’t know anyone in ASCSU and he had just started showing up to senate meetings.
“Everyone was like, ‘What are you doing here?’” Josh recalls.
He first felt a bit intimidated by ASCSU, partially because “everyone was dressed in suits,” and because he knew no one in a highly emotional environment. That fall, he witnessed the first and only impeachment in the ASCSU senate. It was certainly an interesting time to join.
After getting accustomed to the fast-paced, professional environment, Josh felt more comfortable. Senate was meeting in the Behavioral Sciences Building that fall because the Lory Student Center was under construction. The main ASCSU offices were located in the LSC West in the Campus Recreation Center. ASCSU had Josh running all over campus just to get involved.
Josh recalls 2014-15 Student Body Vice President Lance LiPuma saying to him, “We don’t exactly know what your position should be, so we’ll give you ex officio status and put you on the floor.”
Standing in line for Panda Express late that semester, the 2014-15 Student Body President Sam Guinn walked up and said, “Hey Josh.” For the next week, he was telling all of his friends that the president of ASCSU knew his name.
During the second semester, he got more involved with ASCSU through the Liberal Arts Dean Leadership Council and became an Associate Senator until the general election in 2015, when he won a full-time Senate seat. Josh then chaired the External Affairs Committee and was a member of the Senate Budgetary Committee.
Last year, he was going to sit on the Elections Committee, but Mike Lensky ran for vice president. Josh removed himself from Elections Committee and filled his role as Manager for the Pineda Soraca/Lensky campaign.
As a political science and economics major, Josh really does enjoy politics, as scary as it may sound. In his current role as ASCSU Officer of Governmental Affairs, he gets to see unique perspectives from every student. He says this experience will help him become a more well-rounded person.
Josh’s first initiative this summer was voter registration – he worked on the New Era Agreement throughout the summer, focusing on maximizing public input.
“The Executive could’ve just dictated to Senate that this was happening, but we chose not to do that,” Josh said. “As a Senator last year, I did not appreciate when that happened. Plus, I knew there were some parties on campus that were unhappy with it.”
That was and is still the largest initiative of Josh’s term so far. He wouldn’t call the New Era Agreement experience nerve-wracking or frustrating, but he says it was sometimes difficult because there were a variety of emotions involved, against and for it. It was a balancing act, Josh says.
With this year’s presidential campaigns, Josh has faced unique challenges.
“There is a lot of apathy, hatred, [and] dislike, and there is no civil discussion,” Josh said. That’s why he decided to facilitate A Chat with a Conservative and Progressive, a political debate between students from conservative and progressive organizations on campus.
“There are actual issues we can debate instead of, ‘your hair looks funny,’ or ‘oh, you said this 20 years ago.’”
Josh says this election will be studied for years and years in the future. October 17th is the deadline for voter registration drives, but Colorado has same-day voter registration. However, you won’t get the mail-in ballot unless you’re registered by Oct. 17.
ASCSU and New Era combined have registered 1,975 people to vote as of October 4th, but this is not enough, says Josh.
“Even during the last presidential election, only 46 percent of us showed up to vote,” he said. “This is the first time all of us millennials can vote. That’s 34 million voices that have the potential to sway this election one way or another. That needs to be heard either way.”
ASCSU Deputy Chief of Staff and Collegian Blogger Christina Vessa can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ChrissyVessa.