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ASCSU Elections: Meet presidential, VP candidates Jorja Whyte, Leticia Madrigal-Tapia

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Collegian | Sam Nordstrom and Caden Proulx
Photo Illustration by Caden Proulx and Samantha Nordstrom
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Jorja Whyte and Leticia Madrigal-Tapia discuss their platform for the 2024-25 school year.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of The Collegian’s 2024 ASCSU elections coverage. Search 2024 ASCSU elections on collegian.com to see complete coverage of all other candidates.

With campaigns for the Associated Students of Colorado State University elections for the 2024-25 academic year fully underway, The Collegian sat down with presidential candidate Jorja Whyte and vice presidential candidate Leticia Madrigal-Tapia to discuss their backgrounds, campaign platforms and future plans if elected.

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Whyte is the current ASCSU director of health. Madrigal-Tapia is the current ASCSU director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Background, ASCSU experience, qualifications

Whyte: I have a background in leadership within student government in high school. And then I also have the Boettcher Scholarship, which is a scholarship through the Boettcher Foundation. 

I also work in the (Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement) office as a co-curricular leadership specialist. And there I write leadership curriculum and workshops for students, and our, like, kind of philosophy there is that everybody can’t be a leader and everybody needs to be a leader.

And then, through ASCSU health, this is my first year in ASCSU. But health and equitable practices across public health (are things) that I’ve been really passionate about for my entire life. 

I also have the passion, which I think is the most important part of that, and my underlying leadership philosophy is and my mission in life is to spread love and kindness through the power of authentic connection.

Madrigal-Tapia: I’m originally from Michoacán, Mexico. I was born there. And I moved to Denver, Colorado, when I was 6 years old.

I think being an immigrant (is) one of the identities that I (hold) closest to my heart because that’s what, like, really gets me connected to the importance of, like, public service and representation and holding dear to my heart, like, the emphasis (on) human rights and why we need to value humanity and decency as a whole.

I am also a Boettcher Scholar, but I also hold the Voyager Scholarship, which was created by the Obama Foundation. And their main philosophy is to create and elevate students (who) want to go into public service and (who) want to represent their communities and also continue to elevate the work that they do through the emphasis of humanity and the emphasis of the importance of public service.

Being an immigrant, being a Latina or being a woman in the space, it can be so hard to fight for what you believe is right, especially when you’re fighting a system of oppression. It teaches you to have resistance and resilience, and it teaches you to create skills that are going to create change that’s actually tangible. 

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Campaign platform, campus issues, priorities

Whyte: I think affordable education and then building a culture of, like, inclusivity and advocacy within our space. So many students don’t know what ASCSU is, and that’s not their fault. That’s our fault; that’s on us. And that’s something that we need to address as an organization, especially if we’re taking a large portion of students’ student fees. 

Students feel intimidated to come into our space. They don’t feel welcome to just come walk into ASCSU, and that’s something that we really want to change, too, is making ASCSU feel like a welcoming place where you can come and just, like, hang out. Like, we are for students, by students.

Madrigal-Tapia: Sometimes when we pitch ASCSU, like, to students who don’t know, we say that we function as the U.S. government. I don’t think that’s very inclusive because I think there’s a lot of bipartisan(ship) going on and polarization within the U.S. government. And we do not want polarization within our own spaces because a divide means that we’re not going to put any work out. 

ASCSU/student relationship, ASCSU future goals

Whyte: Everything that we want to do is building bridges (and) inspiring change: … separating out connections … and meaningful relationships to our on-campus partners here at CSU, to nonprofits in the local area, to our politicians and our governmental affairs at the state and local level. 

And then inspiring change. Creating a community of advocacy where students feel empowered to speak their (minds) and to use their voice because I feel like that’s a phrase that we’d love to use, and (something) adults love to say to us is, like, “Yes, use your voice.” … But how do we do that? And so giving students the resources and guidance and support to be able to … feel empowered and really confident in their ability to use their (voices).

Madrigal-Tapia: I think one of the biggest things that we keep, like, promoting within ourselves to students is affordable education because I think that’s something that affects every single student, regardless of your ethnicity, background, your economic status, anything, right? The amount of money that we are spending on higher education, the amount of debt that we’re in because of higher education — it’s crippling, and it’s going to affect us for the rest of our lives. And if we can do our very small part to at least, like, alleviate some of that relief (on) a very small-scale level, then we’re going to make sure that we do that.

So making sure that there (are) more resources and there’s more funding for programs that help with how the students are facing housing insecurity — … there (are) already many programs within CSU that just don’t have … enough resources or enough funding, and we need to make sure that we’re … spending our student fee money … on things that actually go back to the students, right? So we want to put money back into students’ pockets because that money is needed for these students (to) succeed in every single aspect of their academic lives.

Basic needs: We want to do more on housing initiatives and more on housing insecurity. The fact that students live out of their cars (is) un-fucking-believable. That is something that we need to be prioritizing and something we need to address right.

We also want to create an initiative where we have food pantries; we’re also going to put basic hygiene stuff, so, like, toilet paper, deodorant and all these other things that are just needed to have, like, a good and healthy, clean life.

Making sure students are actually being represented by ASCSU and feel represented. ASCSU and CSU need to be known for being the next generation of change.  

Whyte: So much, too, lends itself to, like, this idea of affordable education as a wicked problem or as an institutional and systemic issue. We can’t just be just addressing it in policy that is one of the most important places that we can be doing that. But we also need to be working with local organizations like Yes in My Back Yard, which is a nonprofit focused on affordable housing for Fort Collins students and community members.

Reach Tyler Weatherwax and Gwendolynn Riddoch at news@collegian.com and on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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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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