ASCSU refuses to ratify executive cabinet member for allegations of doxxing, racist social media post

Stuart Smith and Natalia Sperry

Editor’s note: CJ Ash writes opinion columns for The Collegian.

Editor’s note: The Collegian is not publishing the Reddit screenshots due to ethical concerns that the images will cause harm to others.

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Working into the wee hours of the morning, the Forty-Eighth Senate of the Associated Students of Colorado State University convened in their first session to ratify officers and approve of the President’s cabinet on May 2.

But, while the Senate unanimously approved 17 of the 18 candidates of the ASCSU Executive Branch, the Senate removed CJ Ash, the candidate for deputy director of governmental affairs, from the ballot due to concerns regarding his ability to represent his constituents on the basis of allegations of doxxing and an allegedly racist Reddit post. 

After an extended period both of question and answer, as well as discussion and debate, the Senate did not ratify Ash with a vote of 6 yes, 15 no and 2 abstentions. 

Prior to the Senate’s discussion and final vote on Ash’s ratification, Students Against White Supremacy member Erica LaFehr accused Ash of doxxing her after Turning Point USA Communications Director Candace Owens visited campus several weeks ago. According to the accusation, Ash, a member of CSU’s chapter of TPUSA, allegedly shared a video from Owens’ official Facebook page, which directly named LaFehr and identified her as a student at CSU.

LaFehr said this led to many people sending her threatening and derogatory messages online, making her feel threatened regarding the safety of both her and her daughter. 

“In the last three weeks, I have been privately messaged … because CJ Ash and his affiliations put me in a position where my private information was shared on the Internet,” LaFehr said. “How can you serve as a representative and endanger students?”

LaFehr told the Senate that she has also provided this information to the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Student Affairs office and University Administration, but had not yet received a full response at the time of the session. 

Larson Ross, a senior political science major and member of CSU’s branch of Young Democratic Socialists of America, also shared screenshots of a Reddit post alleged to be posted by Ash with the Senate. Many considered the image a clear act of racism against people who identify as Asian, Asian-American or Pacific Islander.

Ross said he questioned whether Ash could fairly represent all students on the basis of the post.

“I think this really disqualifies him as being able to represent all students,” Ross said.

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Senator for the Native American Cultural Center Milena Castaneda expressed disdain for the post.

“If you’ve never experienced that kind of racism or derogatory remarks or racism in your life, you cannot understand what it’s like,” Castaneda said. “To have someone here in this office like that is appalling.”

Senator for the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center Sheyenne Rambo-Cromer said ASCSU needed to address the issue directly. 

“As the other senator for the APACC office, it is very hurtful to see that this still happens,” Rambo-Cromer said. “Why are we here? We’re supposed to be stopping that from happening on this campus.”

Senator Ethan Burshek said he did not believe Ash should be punished for the actions of those who threatened LaFehr. 

“I fail to see how CJ or any of the other members here are responsible for the actions of people completely unrelated to them, who they may not know, who they have no control over,” Burschek said.

ASCSU President Tristan Syron made a motion to move this ratification and debate to the fall, but it failed.

In a period of question and answer, Ash presented a defense for both. Confirming that the Reddit post was his, Ash said that the man in the photo was the father of an ex-girlfriend, and the photo was from a vacation he took with the family.

As for the TPUSA post, Ash distance himself from the people that were sending messages to LaFehr.

“I’m being held responsible for the actions of people I don’t know,” Ash said. “But I don’t think anyone would defend that kind of behavior.”

Senate ratifies legislative officers, committee chairs

After questioning and discussing each candidate, the Senate also elected three officers to the leadership of the legislative branch:

  • Speaker Pro Tempore: Senator Melissa Quesada
  • Parliamentarian: Senator Connor Cheadle
  • Recruitment and Retention Officer: Senator Merall Sherif

The speaker pro tempore and parliamentarian are responsible for helping the speaker of the senate facilitate legislative sessions. The recruitment and retention officer is responsible for outreach and recruitment as well as connecting with Senators inside the Legislative body, according to ASCSU’s website

Afterward, the Senate ratified senators to fill the position of committee chairs with a vote of 26-0-0. Committee chairs are responsible for running their respective committee meetings and can make weekly updates in Senate on the happenings of those bodies. 

The committee chairs of the Forty-Eighth Senate of ASCSU are as follows: 

  • Internal Affairs Committee Chair: Senator Jennifer Murray
  • External Affairs Committee Chair: Senator Haneen Badri
  • University Issues Committee Chair: Senator Josh Lindell
  • Budgetary Affairs Committee Chair: Associate Senator Alissa Huber

Collegian reporters Natalia Sperry and Stuart Smith can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Natalia_Sperry and @notstuartsmith.