ASCSU campaign: Adam Peña and Merry Gebretsadik

Sam Moccia

Toting extensive community and student government experience and campaigning under the slogan “Unity for our Community,” Adam Peña and Merry Gebretsadik are running to become the Associated Students of Colorado State University’s next president and vice president.

Peña and Gebretsadik are committed to bridging division across campus and ensuring that opportunities for involvement are available for all students, according to both candidates. 

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Adam Peña, presidential candidate 

Peña, a third-year psychology major who works as an involvement advisor, has been involved in community building on campus since he first arrived. Peña has worked as an orientation leader, sat on the student board for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the Neuroscience Student Organization and worked as an intramural sports referee. 

We can band together as a community and leave no Rams behind. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. That’s why we’re running.” -Adam Peña, presidential candidate

Peña decided to run in response to what he saw as widespread division in CSU’s community, and he feels that his connection with both new and current students demonstrates the kind of authentic connection which the position as president requires.

“We want to change that culture now. I’m only one person, so I know I can’t do that alone,” Peña said. “Everyone can help someone. … We can band together as a community and leave no Rams behind. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. That’s why we’re running.”

Above all else, Peña expressed his deep drive to “make the students feel heard in the conversation, in the moment, right now.” 

“People want someone who’s real, who’s actually gonna sit down and have a conversation with them about what they care about and why they came to CSU,” Peña said. “And that’s literally the only thing we’ve done since we stepped foot into CSU.” 

Merry Gebretsadik, vice presidential candidate

Gebretsadik, a third-year political science major minoring in ethnic studies, has over three years’ experience in ASCSU and is currently a senator for the Black/African American Cultural Center. Gebretsadik has also served as an ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts, an orientation leader, a resident assistant and now as a presidential ambassador.

“Being in ASCSU for three years now, I know how student government works,” Gebretsadik said. “I know this space. … I’ve worked a lot with prospective students and current students who have told me their concerns, and now, being a presidential ambassador, I get to work directly with administration.” 

Her frustration with the lack of communication between students and administration was a driving factor in her desire to run, Gegretsadik said.

“(I experienced) firsthand in senate students being frustrated that administration wasn’t communicating with them, especially last year around a lot of the racially motivated incidents,” said Gebretsadik. “It was very frustrating going into (Student Diversity Programs and Services) offices and being (an) RA last year and residents saying ‘What is administration doing? We feel like we’re not heard. We don’t feel valued.'” 

Additionally, Gebretsadik said she also wants to ensure that all students have the opportunity to find their community and thrive at CSU, even non-traditional students and those with work or family obligations.

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“Seeing the concerns and stress of students on campus just makes me strive to make this a better place for them,” she said. 

Their platform

Gebretsadik and Peña say they’re running to address three major issues on campus: unity, food security and student advocacy.

They hope to target each issue by boosting Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement and involvement advising funding; massively increasing marketing around community resources, namely Rams Against Hunger; and creating consistent student-to-administration dialogue.

“Ultimately, we wanna do community building events and make sure that all the resources and community guidelines that we have on campus are allocated to everybody,” Gebretsadik said.

Peña and Gebretsadik hope to develop “a Universitywide marketing campaign” and boosted SLiCE funding to get transfer and first-year students into involvement advising. They plan to utilize relationships with student centers, experience as orientation leaders and connections with SLiCE to fuel their mission, according to both candidates. 

They plan to massively advertise the Rams Against Hunger program within SLiCE, which Peña described as “amazing work” essential for the community, promising to commit funding specifically to the program. 

Lastly, the two said they want to streamline communication between staff and administration, promising moderated Zoom meetings with not just CSU President Joyce McConnell but deans of individual colleges. Additionally, the two say they’ve developed feedback strategies for those uncomfortable speaking in meetings. 

“I want every student to feel proud to call themselves a Ram,” Gebretsadik said.  

Sam Moccia can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @SamuelMoccia