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ASCSU election campaigns launch on The Plaza

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Collegian | Samantha Nordstrom
Nick DeSalvo/Braxton Dietz Campaign Coordinator Ashton Duffield and vice presidential candidate Dietz hand out flyers to students walking by on the Lory Student Center Plaza March 18.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of The Collegian’s 2024 ASCSU elections coverage. Coverage will include profiles of each speaker of the senate, vice presidential and presidential candidate; debate coverage; and coverage of any elections news. Search 2024 ASCSU elections on collegian.com to see complete coverage as it is published.

As campus sprang to life after the break, hopeful Associated Students of Colorado State University presidential and vice presidential candidates took to The Plaza to officially begin the 2024 ASCSU election cycle.

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Three campaigns have now officially entered the race for president, with sitting President Nick DeSalvo seeking reelection alongside his current chief of staff, Braxton Dietz. Speaker of the Senate Ava Ayala and Speaker Pro Tempore Claudia Paraiso are among the challengers, with Director of Health and Wellness Jorja Whyte and Director of Diversity and Inclusion Leticia Madrigal Tapia rounding out the presidential tickets.

Campaign season erupted after weeks of speculation and close scrutiny within ASCSU, allowing candidates to finally broadcast their campaign platforms, qualifications and goals for office within strict campaign guidelines. The race also begins amid controversy, with several senators standing in opposition to the ASCSU-sponsored RailJam Revival event March 21. Those opposed to the event claim it unfairly benefits the DeSalvo/Dietz campaign, as the current administration has been largely responsible for the planning and execution of the campus event.

ASCSU officials are targeting an increase in student voter participation, especially after the Elections Committee confirmed that a ranked choice voting system would be utilized in the presidential race. Voter turnouts in 2022 and 2023 were 6.17% and 14%, respectively.

The DeSalvo/Dietz campaign touted their experience and track record of results as they engaged with students on The Plaza, pledging to continue their work to remove the U+2 residential ordinance, advocate for students in the Colorado General Assembly and continue bolstering ASCSU’s campus reputation.

“I think students deserve to know what the issues are,” DeSalvo said. “We’ve done a lot of really good work this year, and we’re excited to see it continue.”

The Ayala/Paraiso ticket broadcast their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in their interactions with students, with their campaign centering on student government transparency and communication. Ayala said she believes her unique perspective and background will allow her campaign to reach more students from multiple fields of study.

“I really do love helping students,” Ayala said. “I’m a student on this campus, I’m out-of-state and I’m a member of an underrepresented group of students, so I’m really trying to give those people a voice.”

Whyte and Madrigal Tapia said they plan to use their run for office to empower students, hoping to utilize their experience and fresh ideas to positively affect the student body and further ASCSU’s involvement in campus projects. Whyte also said her campaign will focus less on radical change and more on improvement within ASCSU’s existing opportunities.

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“We want to create a community of advocacy here at CSU,” Whyte said. “(ASCSU) is run by students, for students, so students should be involved in the process.”

Voting opens through RAMweb for presidential, speaker of the senate and senator candidates April 1. The debates for speaker of the senate, vice presidential and presidential candidates will be held March 26 at a time to be announced.

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

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    Ryan G.Mar 20, 2024 at 3:13 pm

    Elections, while meant to embody the pinnacle of democratic engagement and representation, can sometimes descend into superficial popularity contests, overshadowing substantive debate and policy discussion. The focus can shift from solving real issues to navigating a spectacle driven by charisma and campaign financing, which can disillusion voters and undermine the true spirit of democracy.

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