UPDATE: ASCSU Diversity Bill fails at second vote, diversity offices won’t get seats in senate

Erin Douglas

Update at 4 p.m. Thursday: Students protest on the Plaza, Director of Community Affairs resigns, Judicial Branch reviews vote

Some students from SDPS offices who attended senate Wednesday night took to the Lory Student Center Plaza to voice their concerns that the Diversity Bill did not pass. Students on the Plaza said that the Associated Students of Colorado State University representatives who voted no did not communicate to members of Student Diversity Programs and Services offices during the senate session why they opposed the bill during the second vote. In the video, Isaiah Martin, who also spoke at the senate session, talks about the lack of SDPS office representation in ASCSU.

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The Director of Community Affairs, Edward Kendall, confirmed his resignation as a result of the Diversity Bill failing to pass. During the first vote, Kendall helped to pass the bill when he made an amendment to allow any student organization that represents an identity historically underrepresented to ask ASCSU to create a senate seat if one does not already exist. For more on what led to the first passage, go here. Kendall has also been a leading member of the petition to change U+2

According to an internal email sent Thursday, the ASCSU judicial branch will review if the vote that stopped the passage of the bill was constitutional.  

Original:

Despite a strong majority yes vote last week of 28-1-1, the Associated Students of Colorado State University failed to pass its Diversity Bill during the second vote needed to change the constitution. Any legislation that changes the ASCSU constitution must have two consecutive yes votes from two-thirds of the senate.

By a vote of 17-10-0, ASCSU failed to pass legislation that would have created senate seats for representatives of Student Diversity Programs and Services offices and student organizations that may not have an SDPS office.

Around 30 students and representatives from SDPS offices attended senate on Wednesday to speak again in support for the legislation and left visibly upset when the legislation failed.

ASCSU senators and students from SDPS offices in the gallery say the pledge of allegiance before senate begins. Photo by Bianca Torrez
ASCSU senators and students from SDPS offices in the gallery say the pledge of allegiance before senate begins. (Photo credit: Bianca Torrez.)

“These (diversity) offices are our homes, they have protected us, they have affirmed our identities, and they deserve a voice at this University,” said Kwon Atlas to a crowd of students from SDPS offices and ASCSU representatives that left the senate session.

Senators that voted against the legislation said they voted no because there is a plan to introduce an alternative Diversity Bill next week.

“We are hoping to have alternative legislation by the end of the business day tomorrow,” said Sarah Bruce, a senator who voted no on Bill 4514. “On behalf of the way certain individuals were treated at the last senate session, we were not OK leaving those individuals behind. We want to move forward with a unified response.”

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Though there was significant opposition to the Diversity Bill, discussion and debate was brief and all members who spoke during discussion and debate were in favor of the legislation.

“The primary role of a senator is to listen to students,” said Mike Lensky, the senate membership officer. “We don’t always go and talk to these groups that are not being represented. These students are coming (to us) saying that they need seats. We should listen to them.”

During gallery input, many students encouraged the senate body to maintain their initial decision to pass the legislation.

Mo Wells speaks to ASCSU senate Wednesday night. Photo by Bianca Torrez
Mo Wells speaks to ASCSU senate Wednesday night. (Photo credit: Bianca Torrez.)

“Diversity at this University came way before all of us,” said Mo Wells, an ASCSU member who works at the front desk and previously served as the 2014-2015 director of diversity. “It’s going to extend past our graduations. These offices have come into existence because students stood up and made a difference. Be a part of that change. Not for us, not for you, but for the future of this University.”

Advocates of the legislation said the current representation of college councils in senate is inadequate because students may identify with an identity other than their college.

“It really means a lot to us that this bill will pass,” said Vance Payne, a representative for the Black/African American Culture Center. “For us, we lose our voice if this isn’t passed.”

During a discussion with advocates of the legislation after it failed, students proposed starting a petition to force the passage. The legislation has failed at every senate body since the fall of 2013.

“They stomped on our voice, and it’s time to stomp back,” said Isaiah Martin to the crowd of students outside of the senate chambers. “We gave our voice, and they trampled on it. That is not in their constitution, and that is not what they are supposed to do. They’re supposed to listen to us and they gave us a slap in the face.”

Video by Christina Vessa.

According to Speaker Pro Tempore PJ Seel, alternative options to pass the bill would be to motion to reintroduce it or to reintroduce the exact same legislation as a new bill.

“I believe in this organization regardless of this night,” Yearby said. “I believe that we can … lead Colorado and we can lead this country.”

Collegian ASCSU Reporter Erin Douglas can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @erinmdougas23.