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ASCSU hosts 2023 Community Roundtable

Fort+Collins+Mayor+Jeni+Arndt+interacts+with+Colorado+State+University+students+and+community+members+at+the+Associated+Students+of+Colorado+State+Universitys+annual+Community+Roundtable+event+Oct.+23.+The+event%2C+held+in+the+Lory+Student+Center%2C+allowed+students%2C+community+members+and+elected+officials+to+engage+in+dialogue+surrounding+topics+such+as+environmental+policy+and+housing.+
Collegian | Allie Seibel
Fort Collins Mayor Jeni Arndt interacts with Colorado State University students and community members at the Associated Students of Colorado State University’s annual Community Roundtable event Oct. 23. The event, held in the Lory Student Center, allowed students, community members and elected officials to engage in dialogue surrounding topics such as environmental policy and housing.

The Associated Students of Colorado State University hosted their annual Community Roundtable event Oct. 23 in the Lory Student Center.

The event, which featured prominent elected members of the Fort Collins and Colorado communities, provided students with an opportunity to learn from and deliberate with government officials who have a direct impact on local communities across Colorado.

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Among those in attendance were representatives for Senator Michael Bennet and Congressman Joe Neguse, as well as several members of the Colorado General Assembly and members of Fort Collins City Council.

The event is the latest in CSU’s Year of Democracy initiative, which intends to place an increased emphasis on political communication and community involvement across CSU and Fort Collins.

The format of the roundtable, facilitated by members of the Center for Public Deliberation, maintained an approximately 5:1 ratio of constituents to elected officials, with attendees being presented several topics of public interest in three distinct rounds of conversation.

Chief among such points of public interest is the rising cost of living in Fort Collins, which has left many community members unable to secure stable, affordable housing within city limits.

Several students expressed their concern surrounding the affordability of off-campus housing and voiced their displeasure with the controversial U+2 residency policy, which promotes single-family homes and discourages multiple renters from securing housing in the same residence.

District 6 Councilmember Emily Francis has publicly supported a repeal of the ordinance in the past but subsequently said she believes that an alternative can be found by editing the existing policy to better support renters.

“I think you do have a city council that is committed to doing something about U+2,” Francis said. “I know that council definitely wants to remove the family definition.”

Although he has no direct authority over the decision surrounding U+2, Gordon McLaughlin, district attorney for Larimer and Jackson counties, detailed his own experience as a young renter in an effort to sympathize with young renters and voice his support for increased affordable housing initiatives.

“I think it’s important to try and put ourselves in people’s shoes,” McLaughlin said. “Let’s think about what the needs of students in our community are because it’s a really large population.”

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The Fort Collins City Council recently pledged to reevaluate the U+2 ordinance by summer 2024, Francis said, leading ASCSU officials and community members to continue garnering support for the removal of the policy.

Conversations also centered on the importance of supporting democracy and increasing voter participation, which lies at the heart of the Straayer Center for Public Service Leadership and CSU’s Year of Democracy project.

Students from different majors detailed their observations that college students appear more politically apathetic than they ever have, prompting District 4 Councilmember Shirley Peel and Larimer County Commissioner John Kefalas to stress the importance of civic engagement and assure students that positive change can be made through participation in the political process.

“I got so overwhelmed at the national level that I decided to concentrate only on Fort Collins because this is where I know I can make a difference,” Peel said.

Kefalas largely echoed Peel’s sentiment, adding his belief that bipartisan cooperation and community engagement are significant factors in determining the health of democracy across local communities.

“Government is part of the problem-solving equation,” Kefalas said. “It’s not an end-all. It has to be a partnership between community groups and the private sector.”

With the Nov. 7 general election nearing, several ballot information sessions and voter registration drives will continue to take place on campus leading up to election day.

Discussions surrounding environmental sustainability and Colorado’s planned initiatives to reach carbon neutrality rounded out the event.

With several undergraduate and graduate students from science, technology, engineering and math fields expressing concern that CSU and Fort Collins aren’t doing enough to promote complete sustainability and carbon neutrality, Colorado Treasurer Dave Young defended statewide sustainability efforts and encouraged increased student political involvement.

“(Students) can get connected on campaigns,” Young said. “You can also volunteer for and reach out to shareholders and persuade them to vote a particular way.”

Fort Collins has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030, with sustainability programs continuing to be implemented across the CSU and Fort Collins community.

At the close of the roundtable, ASCSU President Nick DeSalvo expressed his satisfaction with the result of the event and pledged future community engagement events moving forward.

“There’s no excuse for CSU to not be the place for these conversations to take place,” DeSalvo said. “I’m thrilled with the turnout tonight.”

ASCSU plans to bring Fort Collins and Colorado elected officials back for campus events at least once a month for the remainder of the academic year.

Reach Sam Hutton at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Sam_Hut14.

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About the Contributor
Allie Seibel
Allie Seibel, Editor in Chief
Allie Seibel is the editor in chief of The Rocky Mountain Collegian, a role she loves more and more with each day. Previously the news editor and news director of The Collegian, Seibel has a background in news, but she’s excited to branch out and experience every facet of content this and following years. Seibel is a sophomore journalism and media communications major minoring in business administration and legal studies. She is a student in the Honors Program and is also an honors ambassador and honors peer mentor. She also is a satellite imagery writer for the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University. Seibel is from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and loves how The Collegian has gotten her acquainted with Fort Collins and CSU. When she’s not writing, reporting or in class, you can always find her with a book, cross-stitching, planning where to travel to next, trying out a new recipe or listening to Taylor Swift. Seibel is incredibly proud of The Collegian’s past and understands the task of safeguarding its future. She’s committed to The Collegian’s brand as an alt-weekly newspaper and will continue to advance its status as a strong online publication while preserving the integrity and tradition of the print paper. Seibel is excited to begin a multi-year relationship with readers at the helm of the paper and cannot wait to see how the paper continues to grow. Through initiatives like the new science desk and letting each individual desk shine, Seibel is committed to furthering The Collegian and Rocky Mountain Student Media over the next few years.

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