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Rep. Ken Buck discusses importance of democracy at CSU

Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
Rep. Ken Buck describes his campaign for Weld County at the Coffee with Representative Ken Buck event in the University Ballroom in the Lory Student Center Jan. 26. “It was a great opportunity, and it was really when the political bug bit me for sure,” Buck said. “It was when I said, ‘OK, let’s go, let’s rock and roll because this is fun.'”

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck visited Colorado State University as a part of the school’s Year of Democracy. Coffee with Representative Ken Buck was the first major speaker event for the spring semester. Buck, who is a Republican congressman, engaged CSU students and staff in a discussion about the current state of democracy.

Buck represents Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, which is the majority of eastern Colorado. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives Nov. 4, 2014. Buck is currently serving his fifth term. He previously shared that he will not seek reelection this year, leaving an open congressional seat.


“The great part about governing is you can look back and feel like you accomplished something, and the interesting thing is the lower the level of government, the more you feel the accomplishment.” -Ken Buck, U.S. House representative for Colorado

Prior to the start of the event, Buck met members of the crowd and shook hands with those in attendance. CSU President Amy Parsons introduced the crowd to Buck and the two student facilitators, Amber Wright and Jack Barrett, who led the event.

When asked about his public service leadership journey, Buck went over his start in politics and dove into experiences from his past as compared to today’s current political world. 

“There was never talk of impeachment,” Buck said. “It wasn’t on the table. We throw the word around now like it’s something you eat for breakfast.”

Buck also looked further into the future, discussing his feelings of the future generation of American leaders and citizens. 

“There are some folks here that are younger than me; I’d be really worried about the national debt,” Buck said. “There is a way to have government and have great services without having $34 trillion of debt.”

He emphasized just how important it is for the youth to get involved with politics, even in lower levels of government.

“The great part about governing is you can look back and feel like you accomplished something, and the interesting thing is the lower the level of government, the more you feel the accomplishment,” Buck said.

Buck spoke about the importance of finding common ground in a democracy and coming together as a nation, looking into the past with the examples of 9/11 and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“When there is a crisis, we come together, and we are unbeatable,” Buck said.


Parsons returned to the stage to thank the congressman for his time and his visit to CSU before the conclusion of the event.

“I think it’s a very important thing to have as we head into our 2024 election cycle,” Write said. “It’s a very relevant topic. We’ve seen a lot of division since the 2016 presidency, and we’re seeing a repeat of the 2020 election, so people are more polarized even than they were in the 2020 election.”

The two mediators wanted to emphasize the importance of events like these and democracy as a whole.

“This is awesome what Colorado State University is doing, and I feel like we really don’t see it from (many) universities around the country,” Barrett said. “Purposely creating (a) dialogue between both sides of the aisle is fundamental to our democracy.”

Parsons also shared her gratitude for the congressman’s visit and highlighted the opportunity it offered students to hear from a local politician. 

“I really appreciated having Congressman Buck here today,” Parsons said. “He’s a veteran congressman representing Colorado. He’s always been a great supporter of CSU, and it’s really interesting to hear his perspective about politics.”

Parsons highlighted the importance of Buck’s message of starting out small in politics.

“I think the perspective he brings … to our students to really talk about, you know, how to be inspired to go into politics,” Parsons said. “You don’t have to set out in politics to run for the U.S. Senate. You can start out at your local school board, city council — the important thing is to get involved, and I think he really underscored that today.”

The Year of Democracy at CSU is an ongoing event that will continue into the spring semester. Parsons shared her thoughts on the Year of Democracy at the school and focused on student engagement. 

“Our Year of Democracy is really leading up to the big national election next November,” Parsons said. “Partly what we want to have happen here is by the time we get to the national election, students are really engaged. They are paying attention (to) the national issues, (and) they are registered to vote. A lot of our students will be voting for the first time, so we want to have (a) really huge voter turnout — top in the country — in terms of voter turnout among our students.”

Parsons also expressed how she hopes to capture the energy of this year and how it’s not just a thematic year at CSU but rather a theme of CSU as a school going forward.  

Reach Tyler Weatherwax at or on Twitter @twwax7272.

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About the Contributor
Tyler Weatherwax
Tyler Weatherwax, News Editor
Tyler Weatherwax is a second-year attending Colorado State University. He has lived in the state of Colorado for his entire life and grew up just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. He is currently majoring in journalism and media communication and is a news editor for The Collegian and assistant news director for KCSU. Weatherwax hopes to share some of the world with people through his reporting and experiences. His goal as a journalist is to bring information to others in the hopes that it inspires and educates them in their lives. He also tries to push himself into the unknown to cause some discomfort in his life and reporting. Weatherwax has been a DJ for 90.5 FM KCSU as well as 88.3 FM KFFR. Some things Weatherwax enjoys doing are playing bass guitar, reading, collecting records, going outside and spending time with his friends and family. Weatherwax hopes to become a journalist after he graduates and to see more of the world.

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  • R

    RBFeb 6, 2024 at 10:08 am


  • M

    Mark RowlandFeb 6, 2024 at 7:49 am

    Wish the format had allowed for questions from the audience. Democracy implies (relies on?) broad access and participation.