ASCSU campaign: Speaker candidates debate top University issues

Serena Bettis

Listening to student voices, micro legislation and favorite cereals were just a few of the many topics brought up at Tuesday’s speaker of the senate debate.

Candidates Christian Dykson, Kyle Hill, Tristan Reyez and Lys Taddei debated their goals and qualifications for nearly two hours Sept. 8, all vying to become the next speaker of the senate for the Associated Students of Colorado State University.


“ASCSU voting begins Sept. 14 on RAMweb and ends at 4 p.m. Sept. 16.”

CTV Channel 11 moderator Lauren Wadsworth asked all candidates general questions regarding the issues they think are most prominent on campus and how they would lead the senate, along with inquiries into each candidate’s specific campaign platforms.

Leading the senate

The speaker of the senate oversees senate operations, sets the legislative agenda and manages the business on the floor of the senate, according to the ASCSU website. At the debate, candidates shared why they are qualified to be the speaker and what they hope to accomplish in this role.

Dykson frequently spoke on his idea to implement micro legislation, which he said will give more power to CSU students who do not personally know an ASCSU senator.

“Typical government bills, student government bills, are too long, they’re too complicated and they often don’t address the root of the problem,” Dykson said. “We understand that. We want to create a system where when you see a problem on campus, you identify a solution (and) you tell us how much funding you need and it immediately becomes a reality.” 

Hill expressed concerns over Dykson’s ideas, stating that having a process that is too streamlined could result in unnecessary legislation and use of funds. 

“I believe that we are holding a couple hundred thousand dollars of student fees,” Hill said. “And if we were just to pass it off like flies, we could leave some without any checks and balances. We can have a system where we go send it to committee, back to senate and if we keep going back and forth, it brings checks and balances.”

Dykson said the process for passing legislation would remain the same, but micro legislation would give all students more access to suggesting bills and solving problems they see on campus. 

Reyez said he is more concerned with students feeling included than changing legislative systems, to which Dykson responded saying both can happen at the same time. 

Throughout the debate, Taddei expressed her desire for efficiency and productivity within the senate to pass as many bills as possible. 

Engaging students and creating an inclusive environment

Reyez spoke on how, as speaker, he hopes to engage more students by creating an inclusive environment both within ASCSU and across the campus as a whole. 


“Students from the (Student Diversity Programs and Services) offices have repeatedly said they do not feel welcome in the ASCSU senate space,” Reyez said. “Many of them have left due to controversies in the senate last year. It was just a hostile space for them to be in. … We need to make sure that the atmosphere is good for all students, all identities and that people are being represented fairly.” 

Reyez said that he does not know the experience of every student on campus, but will go to the SDPS offices and discuss what ASCSU can do to make effective change. 

Earlier in the debate, candidate Dykson said hearing the stories of other students was really important to him, and he described a few stories international students told him about their struggles on campus and the uncertainty they have faced in the current political climate. 

“It’s stories like that that we need to hear and we need to know,” Dykson said. “There is no limit to who may not feel heard right now because as the system is built now, it’s not built for you to feel heard.”

Reyez and Dykson also discussed the need for education on antisemitism in order for Jewish students to feel safe on campus. 

Hill said he thinks real consequences, like suspension and expulsion, need to happen when the code of conduct is broken. 

Taddei disagreed with Hill, saying that the code of conduct will not do anything to prevent people’s actions, and she thinks resources should be focused on supporting those impacted by antisemitism.

“(It is important) to harbor an environment where diverse speakers are welcome,” Taddei said.

All candidates also emphasized the need to read the land acknowledgment at every ASCSU meeting. 

Balancing opposing viewpoints

Taddei consistently said that it is not the point of the speaker to create policy, but to support the senate in doing so. 

“ASCSU is an apolitical organization,” Taddei said. “My job is to support the people. I do that by making sure the senators can do their job as well as possible. My job as speaker of the senate is to moderate the meeting efficiently.”

Taddei stated that, as speaker, it is not her place to have an opinion. 

Reyez disagreed, explaining that he thinks the speaker of the senate needs to use their position to advocate for students, especially because they have access to CSU administration and President Joyce McConnell. 

“A speaker of the senate who does not advocate to the president of the University and have their own opinions, have their own policies and values that they want to advocate for, is not a speaker of the senate who will sit down with students and who will advocate for their needs,” Reyez said. 

Dykson said he wants to make sure that both sides of an argument are heard equally. 

“ASCSU is nonpartisan,” Hill said. “As speaker of the senate, it is good to hear both sides. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or whatever political affiliation you are, you have the right to hear both, even if you do not agree with it. That is important when making decisions, and that is something that we need: impartiality.”

Voting for ASCSU speaker of the senate, president and vice president opens on RAMweb Sept. 14 and will continue through Sept. 16 at 4 p.m.

Serena Bettis can be reached at or on Twitter @serenaroseb.