ASCSU debates nominee for director of diversity & inclusion

Isaiah Dennings and Piper Russell

ascsu meets in the senate chambers
Members of the senate for the Associated Students of Colorado State University hold the first senate meeting of the Fall semester on Sept. 1. (Cat Blouch | The Collegian)

Colorado State University’s student government, the Associated Students of Colorado State University, convened for their second session on Wednesday, Sept. 1, to ratify students into several leadership positions within the executive and judicial branches of their organization. 

Tensions began to rise with the ratification of the student director of diversity & inclusion within the executive branch once lack of due process was pointed out by Senator Ariadne Athey of the Student Disability Center.

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“So I want you all to be aware that we ratified (a) director of diversity & inclusion during our session last semester, and then they dropped off the face of the planet,” Athey said. “It took more than two months of no contact before the office of the president decided to do anything about it.”

Student body President Christian Dykson confirmed during the meeting that a director of diversity & inclusion was ratified with the initial formation of his cabinet last spring, but this member lost communication over the summer and did not formally — other than their ratification — step into that role. A letter of termination was issued in July, and the decision to nominate the runner-up candidate, Joslyn Orji, was decided in early August, according to Dykson. 

“I am extremely frustrated on behalf of students and their wasted fees and their wasted time,” Athey said. “The director of diversity & inclusion is one of the most important positions that we have; we cannot just make hiring decisions within the pool of people that you want.”

Senator Athey’s questioning of the process used to fill this position sent ripples of uncertainty and questions of morality through the senate chambers. The question ultimately came down to whether it was ethical to appoint the No. 2 candidate from the initial pool of applicants, or to have opened up a new round of applications and given more people a chance after the failure of the first elected. 

“The rationale behind it is simply the urgency of this position and the fact that it failed the entire summer,” Dykson said. “Trust me, I’m frustrated. … I wish that position was filled; I wish that individual showed up for us and represented.”

Jess Dyrdahl, the faculty advisor to ASCSU, said that the process taken in this appointment adhered to the typical University guidelines. 

“We do typically recommend that, if you do have qualified candidates, to keep some in holding for this very purpose: if they, in fact, are not able to fulfill or even accept the job offer,” Dyrdahl said. “So President Dykson is correct in that this person was ratified but did not fill out any prior paperwork, so they aren’t in the University system, in our HR paperwork, or anything like that.” 

Eventually, after the debate, the senate agreed to nominate Orji with an unanimous vote but called on more communication from the executive branch whenever desperate measures like these are taken. 

Some senators were still apprehensive about holding ratification on grounds that the nomination was illegitimate, specifically Senator Lizzy Osterhoudt from the Native American Cultural Center. 

“It just doesn’t feel right to me personally, that it was a kind of behind-the-scenes hiring,” Osterhoudt said. “It’s just not inclusive.” 

Other senators, like University Affairs Committee Chairman Evan Welch, saw no problem with the process to nominate Orji and viewed the process as efficient and necessary to complete projects after losing a whole summer. 

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“If we communicated with the executive office about this, it could have been cleared up,” Welch said. “I do think that we should ratify this person because I think no matter what, they will be confirmed again, but I do think if something like this happens again, please contact us.”

Eventually, after the debate, the senate agreed to nominate Orji with an unanimous vote but called on more communication from the executive branch whenever desperate measures like these are taken. 

The senate then proceeded to ratify students into the supreme court positions. All nominees were passed with unanimous consent with no other contentions of the nomination process. 

“I just want to speak on the legitimacy of this process,” Dykson said. “It is the role of the president along with the chief justice to select the deputy chief justices and associate justices, and I trust the process. I trust our chief justice, and I trust our senate to ratify the best people for the job.” 

Isaiah Dennings can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @isaiah_dennings.

Piper Russell can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @PiperRussell10.