How student government changes campus and the community

Noah Pasley

Colorado State University has an abundance of student organizations to choose from, but students looking to change campus and the community may be interested in a position with student government.

The Associated Students of CSU is the University’s student government, comprised of a senate, an executive branch and a judicial branch. According to the ASCSU website, the organization advocates for students on the University, local, state and national levels. 

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“Most importantly, we manage all student fees on campus, so student fees that are spent on campus have oversight by the student government,” said ASCSU President Ben Amundson. “It’s over $60 million — we have one of the largest budgets in the United States for any student government.”

The student fees are allocated to registered student organizations on campus. They also fund on-campus services like the Health Center and RamRide, a safe ride service students can use for transportation via an app Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, according to the service’s website.

It’s a really great opportunity to literally give students the power to decide where their student fees are going.”-Alex Farias, ASCSU vice president

Amundson, a senior studying agricultural business and economics, and Alex Farias, a senior studying finance, were elected as president and vice president of ASCSU in the 2019 general election. Elections are usually held in the spring of each year, but the 2020 election has been delayed until September due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19, according to the website.

“It’s a great way for students to get involved,” Amundson said. “We’re a lot more than just a political group. In fact, I would say to join ASCSU, you don’t have to be political at all; it’s much more of a service-based group.”

Senators for ASCSU can write bills, which can finance different projects or change policies within ASCSU, or they can write resolutions, which make recommendations on policy changes within the CSU administration, such as changes to the Student Conduct Code, according to Amundson.

“Some senators write bills to fund different initiatives, some senators write bills to change different policies,” Amundson said. “Resolutions can go a (long) way with changing CSU policy, saying, ‘This is where students stand on a certain policy.'”

Amundson said that ASCSU does a lot of programming and events around campus, including the Rams on the Ice event which brought a synthetic ice rink to The Plaza in February to educate students about Black History Month. He also said that ASCSU funds several food insecurity initiatives like pocket pantries and the mobile food pantry that comes to campus. 

“It’s just fun to do things that make people proud to be a CSU Ram,” Amundson said.

Farias said ASCSU is about giving students an understanding of what their fees pay for, as well as power over where those funds are directed.

“A huge thing that me and Ben (Amundson) have also been doing is trying to get the word out about student fees, so students are able to utilize what they are paying for,” Farias said. “It’s a really great opportunity to literally give students the power to decide where their student fees are going.” 

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Amundson said that ASCSU’s end goal should be to serve students outside of ASCSU and to enhance the experiences of the general student body.

“I’ve often said the general student on campus should go every year without knowing what ASCSU even is,” Amundson said. “ASCSU shouldn’t be the center or the highlight, we should just make people’s lives better and get out of the way.” 

Noah Pasley can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @PasleyNoah.