ASCSU speaker of the senate debate focuses on toxic ASCSU culture


Collegian | Connor McHugh

Evan Welch, University Affairs Committee chair of the Associated Students of Colorado State University, and Nick DeSalvo listen to the answer Office of International Affairs Senator Rithik Correa gives at the speaker of the senate debate March 29.

Noah Pasley, News Editor

The Associated Students of Colorado State University held their debate for speaker of the senate candidates Tuesday night, facilitated by CTV’s Ren Wadsworth, who presented the candidates with questions. The public was also free to submit their own questions, both in person at the debates in the North Ballroom of the Lory Student Center and via the livestream.

The candidates spoke on an assortment of issues, including environmental and accessibility initiatives on campus, the ramifications of studying at a land-grant university and their proposals for ensuring ASCSU continues to create high quality legislation for the student body. However, much of the night was spent speaking about a toxic environment within ASCSU and discussing how best to uphold issues of equity and ensure every voice is heard.


One question posed to the candidates was how they would manage relationships with the Student Diversity Programs and Services offices, as well as how candidates would ensure an unbiased perspective wherein all voices are heard and not silenced.

Candidate Evan Welch, who currently serves as a senator for the College of Liberal Arts and the chair for the University Affairs Committee, said he would follow his obligations as speaker to meet with each of the SDPS directors to talk with them about their relationship with ASCSU and how to improve it.

He added there has been a history of ASCSU senators attacking the SDPS offices in senate chambers and that he would work to resolve it. He also talked about ways to facilitate dialogue between opposing viewpoints, and he would go through senate procedures to issue warnings and on repeated offenses, remove speaking rights and remove senators from the chambers.

Candidate Rithik Correa, who currently serves as a senator for the Office of International Programs, spoke on getting more representation from women in the senate chambers. He also spoke on the importance of getting senator representation for the Women and Gender Advocacy Center, as it is the only office currently without a senator in ASCSU.

Correa said he is hoping to establish a committee that investigates and discusses bias-related incidents and would create reports to go to senate within two business weeks so the committee can be responsible for an unbiased review of all incidents.

Candidate Nick DeSalvo, who is not currently involved in ASCSU but serves on the Board for Student Organization Funding, said the issue of establishing good connections with CSU offices relies on active listening and going to those programs to ask how ASCSU can benefit their offices. He added that other marginalized communities, like first-generation students and international students, also need their voices heard.

DeSalvo said many of the bias-related incidents in senate are related to the partisanship present in the chambers, and if senators focused more on crafting policy as opposed to the politics, it would be easier to hold viewpoint-neutral conversations. DeSalvo also said viewpoint-neutral discussions would help resolve the senate’s high turnover rate, adding that the partisanship is detrimental to the mental health of senators.

A community member then posed a question via the livestream to Correa, asking how he plans to ensure a safe space for everyone when he previously made a motion to remove speaking rights from a woman of color, referencing an incident from the Jan. 26 ASCSU meeting. Correa had motioned to remove speaking rights from Chair Lizzy Osterhoudt after she directed questions toward speaker pro tempore candidate Graham Avers about Greek life’s toxic effects and issues of white supremacy on ASCSU in the past.

Correa said his motion at the Jan. 26 meeting was made not because of Osterhoudt’s identity as an Indigenous woman but because of the comments she made during the meeting and at other times in the past. He also said he made the motion to make sure every voice is heard.


Welch offered a rebuttal to Correa’s response, asking why he had not followed senate procedures and gotten a warning issued to Osterhoudt when the issue had previously arisen instead of directly motioning to remove her speaking rights. Correa responded by saying he knew the senate cabinet at that time wouldn’t enforce the procedure, and he added that Welch was part of that cabinet.

DeSalvo also offered a rebuttal to Welch’s and Correa’s statements, saying the toxic culture leading to the incident cannot be remedied by the same system that created it, and he repeated that as an outsider to ASCSU and its culture, he is better suited to addressing these issues.

Reach Noah Pasley at or on Twitter @PasleyNoah.