ASCSU members face questions over meeting with TPUSA member

Charlotte Lang

The Associated Students of Colorado State University’s executive members answered questions about a recent trip to Arizona State University where a few executive members met with a Turning Point USA member during the Wednesday senate session. 

man speaks into microphone with hand raised
Associated Students of Colorado State University President Ben Amundson speaks to Senator Isabel Van Dyke in defense of Chief of Staff Melissa Quesada and other executive members at the meeting Nov. 20. (Anna von Pechmann | The Collegian)

Senator Isabel Van Dyke expressed concerns over a meeting that members of the executive branch had with Marcus Fotenos, past student body president at the University of Colorado Boulder, as well as the current advancement administrative director at Turning Point USA.

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We’re not ashamed of the fact that some people have political views that we disagree with— that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them.” -ASCSU President Ben Amundson

Van Dyke said the meeting was not on the approved agenda for the trip and that it could be a violation of ASCSU’s financial rules, specifically concerning the use of student fees on seemingly political advancement.

“When this information is presented to the students you represent in the greater campus, including the vast majority of those that do not associate with Turning Point USA, how do you explain the using of student fees for this agenda that was not approved?” Van Dyke asked Chief of Staff Melissa Quesada and President Ben Amundson during their presentation about the trip.

Amundson said the trip had nothing to do with the political organization. Executive members met with Fotenos solely for his role as a past student body president.

“We always meet with people we disagree with,” Amundson said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t sit down and talk with them and learn from them.”

Van Dyke said she has no problem with the political group but that she was more concerned with the executive members having a political meeting that was not part of the proposed and approved agenda.

Amundson responded that the members in question did not take a trip for any sort of political reason.

Amundson said this questioning was about humiliating him rather than talking and addressing concerns.

“We came here today and we presented about the trip, and we even mentioned that he is affiliated with the group,” Amundson said. “We did that because we’re honest people. We’re not ashamed of the fact that some people have political views that we disagree with — that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them.”

In regards to the members not following the proposed agenda, Quesada said the agenda was always tentative. 

When asked if he would still meet with Fotenos given the distress in the senate, Amundson said he would still meet.

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“We’re gonna meet with someone who has good insight who can help us serve students and bring good ideas back,” Amundson said. 

Other senators said this is not the place to be attacking other officers.

“We have been humiliating these two amazing individuals up there who obviously tried their best in doing what they thought was right,” Senator Kyle Hill said.

Hill motioned to end the questioning. The motion passed.

Members of the Senate also questioned Quesada’s position in senate meetings.

Van Dyke motioned for Chief of Staff Melissa Quesada’s ex officio status, which allows her to participate in senate sessions by virtue of her office, to be removed due to occurrences during previous senate meetings.

Van Dyke said that, during the voting of a bill, she and other members of the senate were approached by Quesada and told that the bill they were voting on was illegal. However, upon further research after the disruption, Van Dyke found there to be no legality issues with the bill.

“We had to email and apologize for this,” Van Dyke said. “This caused a lot of issues that we did not appreciate, specifically being lied to.”

Van Dyke also said that Quesada’s behavior in the past has made senators feel demeaned throughout the semester.

Quesada said the referenced action about approaching senators about the bill’s legality was not how she recalled it. She said that she believed she was called over and asked about the bill breaking ASCSU policy.

Quesada also said she was sorry if she made senators feel trampled on.

“I really try to just bring the voice of the executive branch,” Quesada said. “I have been in every senate session from beginning to end each year because I know what it was like to not have any executive voice and input at all.”

Quesada said she considers ASCSU as one big branch rather than three little branches.

Upon hearing both sides, senators said they saw the action as an honest misunderstanding.

“From my experience with Chief Quesada, she may be overpowering at times, but she uses her power to show us what to do because she’s been in our position,” Senator Savannah Overturf said.

The senate voted not to remove Quesada’s status.

Charlotte Lang can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @chartrickwrites.