Amundson-Farias election challenged in ASCSU Supreme Court

Samantha Ye

Editor’s note: Jayla Hodge is the Opinion Editor of The Rocky Mountain Collegian.

The results of the Associated Students of Colorado State University presidential election were challenged Tuesday night. 


Two students, Chris Jewell and Hannah Taylor, filed an appeal against the Ben Amundson and Alex Farias campaign which won the ASCSU presidential election

The complainants claim the campaign should have been disqualified due to their actions of throwing away Collegian newspapers en masse and harassing other campaigns. Additionally, short of disqualification, the actions would have

woman holds a newspaper
Hannah Taylor holds up a copy of the Collegian and gives a statement during the Associated Students of Colorado State University hearing May 7. (Forrest Czarnecki | Collegian)

violated the ASCSU Code of Ethics four times, resulting in fines which would have pushed the campaign over the donations and expenditures limit and disqualified them.

The only reason it did not happen during the election season, the appeal states, is because these accusations did not come to light in time.

In the Tuesday hearing, the ASCSU Supreme Court heard arguments from the complainants, Jewell and Taylor, the defendants, Amundson and Farias, and multiple witnesses to the claims.

The five members of the Supreme Court will deliver a written decision likely by the end of the week.

Who’s who


  • Ben Amundson: elected as ASCSU President in the 2019 elections; ran on Ben+Alex campaign winning by an 869-vote margin; previously ASCSU Speaker of the Senate
  • Alex Farias: elected as ASCSU Vice President in the 2019 elections; ran on Ben+Alex campaign winning by an 869-vote margin; previously on the Student Fee Review Board


  • Chris Jewell: filed the appeal against the Ben+Alex campaign; previously Braun-Taylor campaign manager
  • Hannah Taylor: filed the appeal against the Ben+Alex campaign; previously Braun-Taylor assistant campaign manager; previously ASCSU deputy director of governmental affairs


A report was filed by Nick Bohn, ASCSU’s controller, regarding suspicion of Ben + Alex’s misrepresenting their campaign finances. Following the submission, The Collegian decided to investigate Amundson and Farias’ finances. Findings discovered that their spending did not align with the donations and expenditures report

received by The Collegian. An exact donation amount was not able to be confirmed with the Food Bank.

woman speaks at podium
Witness Sara Kennedy gives a statement during the ASCSU hearing May 7. (Forrest Czarnecki | Collegian)

On April 9, members of Ben + Alex campaign and members outside of the campaign were seen by multiple witnesses throwing away Collegian copies. Approximately 1,500 papers were taken from Collegian news racks. This is a violation of the First Amendment according to the Denver Post and theft according to the Student Press Law Center.

The Collegian filed a report with the CSU Police Department and an investigation is ongoing, according to Collegian editors.


What happened

The complainants started their arguments by recounting the claims from their appeal form and stated they were before the court as aggrieved students, not representatives of the Braun-Taylor campaign.

“We are really just here as upset students who want to see truth come of the pile of lies that has been the election season of 2018-2019,” Jewell said.

ASCSU campaign code considers breaches of the CSU Code of Ethics a “major violation.” The complainants accuse the Ben+Alex campaign of four violations of the University code:

  • Abusive behavior: towards Dominick Quintana and Collegian newspaper distributor
  • Theft: stealing Collegian newspapers en masse from the Lory Student Center distribution racks
  • Damage: the destruction of Collegian papers
  • Disruptive Behavior: inhibiting the “right of free speech or expression” by interfering with the distribution of papers on campus

From the paper theft issue, the Taylor drew several other violations, namely waste of student fees, as The Collegian is partially student-funded, as well as inhibiting students’ ability to make an informed vote.

The destruction of newspapers was a key point of contention throughout the hearing.

Amundson said members of his campaign did throw away papers but that most of the people participating were friends and people not associated with the campaign. He also said the campaign did not direct anyone to destroy the papers, and when they heard about what had happened, explicitly directed their members not to do that again.

We are really just here as upset students who want to see truth come of the pile of lies that has been the election season of 2018-2019.”

-Chris Jewell, former Braun-Taylor campaign manager.

Amundson said he and Farias did not throw away any papers.

Two witnesses for the defendants, Sara Kennedy and Gillian Trahan, corroborated Amundson’s statements. Kennedy said she was only a friend, not a campaign member, of Amundson’s who threw away papers because she was “extremely hurt to see … one of the better people I have ever met being misrepresented under false pretenses in the newspaper.”

Kennedy contacted The Collegian in April 2020 and said she threw away two papers she was handed by a distributor, as opposed to picking papers up from the stands. Distributors for The Collegian are instructed to give out one paper per individual unless that individual asks for multiple copies.

Two witnesses for the complainants, Madison Taylor and Collegian Opinion Editor Jayla Hodge, gave statements implying Amundson did have a more explicit role in what had happened.

Amundson repeatedly said the issue was not something that could be considered criminal and thus should not be grounds for disqualification. Rather than suppression of free speech, he argued it was their expression of speech.

“We have not broken the law,” Amundson said.

man looks at paper on a table
Associated Students of Colorado State University President-Elect Ben Amundson listens to a statement made during the ASCSU hearing May 7. (Forrest Czarnecki | Collegian)

Taylor countered that the Ben+Alex campaign used their right to speech in immoral ways to silence others speech. Amundson responded that the court was not about morality.

As for the accusations of verbal harassment, Amundson denied all claims and asserted the complainants did not present substantial evidence to prove the confrontations happened.

Amundson countered he was also disrespected during the election season by other campaigns. Specifically, he said, Jewell told Amundson to “suck my balls” through an indirect message delivered via Speaker of the Senate-elect Blake Alfred. 

Amundson also suggested he was being singled out by this appeal.

“Are we the ones in question today or is this really just about coming after one candidate?” Amundson said.

Speakers from the defendant’s side repeatedly noted the complainants’ ties to the Braun-Taylor campaign which placed second in the elections.

Taylor and Jewell denied being driven by any vendetta, only wanting to achieve justice as students.

“There is nobody else out there that would stand up and say this is unacceptable,” Jewell said in the closing

statements. “This behavior is wrong. It needs to be looked at, questioned, challenged. And even if … Ben and Alex maintain their positions, at least somebody did something here.”

Amundson closed out his argument with a challenge to how relevant these issues even were to the outcome of the election.

woman listens to man
Hannah Taylor reacts to a statement by Ben Amundson during the Associated Students of Colorado State University hearing May 7. (Forrest Czarnecki | Collegian)

He pointed to his large winning margin and said it would be unfortunate for students if his administration were unable to carry out their campaign promises.

“At the end of the day, students voted for us because they believed in us,” Amundson said.


Documents and Witnesses

Editor’s note: In order to protect the private information of the complainants and witnesses, The Collegian has redacted the phone numbers included in the original, filed appeal document, which was previously uploaded with these numbers available to the public. All other information in the appeal appears as it did when submitted to The Collegian. 

Samantha Ye and Laura Studley can be reached at or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.