Personal attacks create conflict in ASCSU, body looks for a new solution

Rachel Telljohn

ASCSU senate on a Wednesday night. (Collegian file photo)

Ad hominem attacks have been rife within the Associate Students of Colorado State University over the past year as the organization works to become a more diverse and inclusive body.

ASCSU introduced a bill which would create a specific and intentional way of dealing with such attacks during their meeting on Wednesday night.

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Ad hominem attacks are verbal attacks directed at one’s character, not an attack aimed at one’s job or a vote they would give regarding a piece of legislation.

The proposed bill would create a panel, comprised of a member from all three branches of ASCSU, and an advisor. The panel would create a streamlined method of dealing with complaints or cases of attacks for all three branches of ASCSU.

Currently, the process files an individual’s complaint immediately with the judicial branch and a hearing is then held, consequences – including impeachment – pending the results of said hearing.

Senators Isabel Brown, Lawrence Horowitz and Tess Holohan, all authors of the bill, presented and were equipped to handle questions regarding their bill.

“In the past, and coming into the present, there have definitely been some noticeable instances (of ad hominem attacks),” Brown said.

All three senators cited the presentation of the Diversity Bill last spring as one of the largest sources for the creation of the proposed panel.

“When it comes down to the Diversity Bill, there were personal attacks against me and other fellow senators (on the senate floor),” Horowitz said.

The Diversity Bill was a controversial piece of legislation passed last spring that created senate seats for student representatives of campus diversity offices, such as the Adult and Learner Veteran Services office, the Black and African American Cultural Center and the Pride Resource Center.

Horowitz explained a streamlined process would be helpful, even if it just helps members of ASCSU to feel validated in their feelings. Horowitz said he feels the introduction of the process and the panel would alleviate a lot of discomfort last year’s senators felt.

Horowitz said many senators from last school year resigned this past fall.

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Brown said that the senate body should be equally as diverse as the student body at Colorado State. Brown said, however, there are clear dividing lines between members of ASCSU and the purpose of the bill is to hopefully begin erasing those lines.

Some members of the gallery said that ASCSU should elect senators who can conduct themselves maturely, rather than investing resources into a panel to deal with gossip.

Another concern was understanding what constitutes personal attacks.

“There’s not going to be a specific dividing line (between what constitutes an attack and what does not),” Brown said.

The authors explained that they purposefully chose not to give a black and white definition of what constitutes the attacks. Brown said this year there has been more of an issue with gossiping, whereas last year there were more issues surrounding the use of social media.

Brown encouraged the senate body to come to the committee in order to offer input on writing the bill.

The bill was moved to internal committee after a lengthy discussion, before it is to be voted on by the general body.

Collegian reporter Rachel Telljohn can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @racheltelljohn.