ASCSU elections: Presidential and vice presidential write-in candidates Sam Moccia, Haydyn Deason

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Collegian | Serena Bettis

Haydyn Deason and Sam Moccia stand in the courtyard of the Lory Student Center after discussing their platform for the Associated Students of Colorado State University election April 2. Deason is running as a write-in candidate for vice president, and Moccia is running as a write-in candidate for president.

Serena Bettis, Content Managing Editor

Editor’s Note: Sam Moccia worked as a news reporter at The Collegian from August 2020 to March 2021. The Collegian is dedicated to giving all ASCSU candidates equal campaign coverage.

The Associated Students of Colorado State University president and vice president positions for the 2022-23 academic year now face a contested election after the ASCSU elections manager announced a new ticket of write-in candidates. 

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Sam Moccia, write-in candidate for president, and Haydyn Deason, write-in candidate for vice president, are campaigning on a platform of sustainability and joined the race after seeing the positions go uncontested against candidates Robert Long and Elijah Sandoval for nearly two weeks.

Moccia said he and Deason have had conversations together about what it would be like to run for president and vice president of ASCSU but never wanted to fill those roles until it was needed. Moccia added they entered the race to provide students more choice in how they vote.

Moccia was an ASCSU senator for the College of Agricultural Sciences during the fall 2021 semester and is also the director of the Student Sustainability Center. He also chairs the Coalition for Sustainable Student Organizations, which is “a partnership of registered student organizations chaired by the SSC and ASCSU,” according to the RamLink website. 

Moccia also said he has experience working with the state and local government, when he worked as a children’s and youth behavioral health programs advisor in the Office of Behavioral Health under the Colorado Department of Human Services. He also currently serves on the Climate Smart Larimer County task force.

Deason has been a senator for the Warner College of Natural Resources since the beginning of the fall 2021 semester. She is also on the Warner College Council, a member of the CSSO and vice chair of the University Affairs Committee in the ASCSU senate. Along with being a peer mentor in the honors program, Deason also said she was recently trained to be a peer leader for The Body Project, a program that promotes body positivity in young women. 

Deason said their platform of sustainability is focused on both environmental and social sustainability and that she and Moccia want to emphasize mental health and health resources for students.

“(Sustainability is) this word that we keep saying over and over again, but it’s so multifaceted,” Deason said. “I think that’s why we chose a lot of our platform to be on that: … We really want to make CSU a lot more interconnected. A lot of people are very stuck in these corners, but hold so many different identities.”

Deason said they plan to do this by encouraging and facilitating conversations and getting different groups to work on projects together, so they get to know one another and have better results come out of it. Moccia said that one of the reasons he created the CSSO was to connect people who were working on the same projects across campus, but did not know it. 

“We’ve proven this on the Coalition for Sustainable Student Organizations, a lot of the issues we can fix are just through building those coalitions and giving people that role,” Moccia said. “One of (our) primary goals is the moment we begin a project, … you call the stakeholders, you get people in a room and you build things out from there.”

A few other goals they have is to finish a project to add a composting option for students in the Lory Student Center and to provide resources for students to cope with climate change anxiety and other health issues.

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A topic of debate for the speaker of the senate candidates this election season has been the negative or “toxic” culture of ASCSU, especially in the senate, which Moccia and Deason said they will address by putting the right people into leadership roles and making the senate a place that welcomes everyone.

Moccia said the environment is not necessarily toxic because of the people in it but because it has a reputation for being something that is more closed off. 

“We need curious people, we need people who don’t feel comfortable in government and policy spaces — the ones who make it a growing, thriving environment are the ones who feel they don’t belong, but they do, just as much as the rest of us,” Moccia said.

If elected vice president, Deason would serve as the president of the Student Fee Review Board, something she said she feels comfortable doing because of her experience in leadership and facilitating communication despite not having a lot of experience with budgetary affairs. 

“I think if I were to be in charge of SFRB, I would really take the advice of the people who came before me,” Deason said. “Being a good leader is knowing where your failures are and where you’re not very good and where other people would do better.”

Because they are write-in candidates, Moccia and Deason’s campaign looks different than others. Moccia said they are not allowed to actively campaign until the voting period opens, which gives them three days to connect with students, compared to the two weeks other candidates have. Additionally, students will have to write their names in the write-in field when voting on RAMweb; Moccia and Deason will not be listed as an option.

“The reality is, you can do a lot of footwork in five days; like, during the elections week, you can do an insane amount of outreach and connecting and putting in that time,” Moccia said. “So we’re going to be out there literally every day, along with the folks who are helping us out, and really get out there. 

Moccia said they want it to be clear that they are not running for the prestige of the positions, and if they do not win, they’ll still be doing the same work they currently do on campus.

“And we’re here for people,” Deason said. “We care about people, and whether we’re president and vice president or not, that’s never going to go away, and so we can be leaders on campus even if we’re not president and vice president. But again, it’s a unique opportunity, and we couldn’t pass up on it.”

Students can vote for candidates on RAMweb from 8 a.m. April 4 to 4 p.m. April 6. To learn about the other candidates, visit The Collegian’s election guide, or watch candidate interviews and debates on CTV 11’s YouTube channel.

Reach Serena Bettis at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb.