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ASCSU Elections: Meet presidential, VP candidates Claudia Paraiso, Ava Ayala

2024+Associated+Students+of+Colorado+State+University+vice+presidential+candidate+Ava+Ayala+and+presidential+candidate+Claudia+Paraiso+pose+for+a+photo+outside+the+Lory+Student+Center+March+21.
Collegian | Hannah Parcells
2024 Associated Students of Colorado State University vice presidential candidate Ava Ayala and presidential candidate Claudia Paraiso pose for a photo outside the Lory Student Center March 21.
CTV Channel 11
Claudia Paraiso and Ava Ayala 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.

The Collegian sat down with presidential candidate Claudia Paraiso and vice presidential candidate Ava Ayala in anticipation of the upcoming Associated Students of Colorado State University elections for the 2024-25 academic year. Paraiso and Ayala listed their qualifications, motivations and strategies as well as discussed some of their planned initiatives and goals for the future of ASCSU if elected.

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CSU students can vote for next year’s ASCSU president, vice president and speaker of the senate on RAMweb April 1-3.

Background, ASCSU experience, qualifications

Paraiso: I started off as a senator for the (Black/African American Cultural Center) office, and then I also became the secretary for that same committee and then was able to move up to my current position as the speaker pro tempore. I know a lot about the internal workings of ASCSU, (and) I’ve been able to work with other people within ASCSU and bring that out to different students who come to us as well. I work with students every Wednesday in (the) senate because we’re able to collaborate with all of them.

Ayala: I started off as a senator for the College of Natural Sciences. I created a (diversity, equity and inclusion) committee inside ASCSU (and) became the vice chair (of) that committee. (I) then moved up to speaker of the senate, which is where (I) currently sit. … Being the leader of a branch right now, I really see how all the internal workings go on and how the communication and collaboration between the executive, the judicial and legislative branches (work).

Sitting in this position right now, I kind of see the things that can definitely be improved between communication and just even community inside the office. I also served as a member of the Student Fee Review Board my (first) year, which, if I (were) to be vice president, I would be chairing.

I’ve seen how it’s been run, and I have a very good idea of how I would run SFRB if I (were) to become vice president. (In my current position), I work with students directly. I work with people who are volunteering their time on Wednesday nights (from) 6:30 to whenever we end, sitting there making decisions and going over votes. I have been talking to students all year, so I can really understand (them), and I can really put forth what I’ve learned all year to how I can help students in the next position.

Motivations, campaign platform, priorities

Paraiso: I would say the biggest issue we’re running on right now is kind of a lack of transparency with students not knowing where their student fees are going. We want students to know that there are entities such as SFRB (and the Board for Student Organization Funding) — especially SFRB because students from all around campus can be a part of that. You can decide where the fee increases can go and whether certain areas can just stay where (they are).

That’s one of the big things that I would say is students knowing where their student fees are going and how that benefits them. One big goal is generally fiscal responsibility. So we want to be able to … make sure that all the funds that are being spent are being spent with intention and that we can create events that are going to be for everybody. We can have a budget … that has some wiggle room and that you can be able to use for everything that you need but not run out too quickly.

Ayala: There (are) a lot of internal decisions that are made that students don’t get to hear about until they’re either an event or there’s a news posting. Last year, we got a lot of (negative) PR, and I think that’s how a lot of people saw ASCSU — as the (negative) PR that we got from last year. I think if we were to be more transparent on what we’re doing, then that PR won’t hit us as badly, and we won’t have the amount of stigma that we have right now.

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My goal for ASCSU is (to have) ASCSU be ASCSU — not having it be executive, senate and judicial. It’s the collaboration of all three branches in one. When people think of ASCSU, they jump to president and vice president; they jump to (the) senate and judicial. (I want) it to be more of a cohesive environment, even (for) the students, because I feel it definitely seems divided.

ASCSU/student relationship, campus issues

Paraiso: I have a really good vision of wanting to … evolve (ASCSU) to (have) a more open and welcoming atmosphere. I just want to be able to connect ASCSU to the students so that they can become a lot more involved. We (want to) have representation from everywhere. … I feel the leadership qualities I’ve had before — of being able to work with other people in higher leadership positions — (have) also helped me to be able to run for this presidential position. I really want to step up to the challenge and create opportunities for people.

We just want the students (to) know that we’re going to do everything that we can to stay in line with any and all promises that we make in this campaign. We are (still human); we will make mistakes, but we will still take accountability and do whatever we can to help them and fulfill any goals that we have for this election and the future of ASCSU.

Ayala: Our top two concerns are especially the lack of communication and the collaboration between branches, and those both can intermix the collaboration with (the) community and the communication within branches. Those two, I think, are the biggest things that, if we were to be elected, we’d want to change. We can’t do something as a team if we aren’t together, and we can’t serve a community that we don’t talk to. I think when it comes to this election, every candidate is a good candidate.

I think it really comes down to what their promises are and what we can deliver. We’re trying our best to listen to what students want and really hear (them). I can’t always (say) we’re going to be perfect if we win these positions, but I can promise that we’ll try.

Reach Riley Paling and Ivy Secrest at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributors
Ivy Secrest
Ivy Secrest, Content Managing Editor
Ivy Secrest is The Collegian's content managing editor. Secrest uses she/her/hers pronouns and has worked for The Collegian previously as a reporter and as life and culture director for the 2022-23 academic year. As a senior in the journalism and media communications department, Secrest enjoys reporting on environmental and social issues with a special interest in science communication. She is president of the Science Communication Club and is pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability with hopes of utilizing her education in her career. Growing up in Denver, Secrest developed a deep love for the outdoors. She could happily spend the rest of her life hiking alpine environments, jumping into lakes, taking photos of the wildflowers and listening to folk music. She's passionate about skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. Secrest's passions spurred her career in journalism, helping her reach out to her community and get involved in topics that students and residents of Fort Collins truly care about. She has taken every opportunity to connect with the communities she has reported in and has written for several of the desks at The Collegian, including news, life and culture, cannabis, arts and entertainment and opinion. She uses her connections with the community to inform both managerial and editorial decisions with hopes that the publication serves as a true reflection of the student body's interests and concerns. Secrest is an advocate of community-centered journalism, believing in the importance of fostering meaningful dialogue between press and community.
Hannah Parcells
Hannah Parcells, News Editor
Hannah Parcells is currently the news editor at The Collegian, a role that she loves dearly. Parcells uses she/her pronouns and began writing for The Collegian in fall 2023 as a reporter under the news, science, opinion and life and culture desks.  Parcells is currently pursuing two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a concentration in global politics. Parcells has always been passionate about understanding and helping other people and hopes to use her education to try and leave the world a little better than she found it.  Raised in Castle Rock, Colorado, Parcells grew up with a love of learning, music and writing. She’s always working to learn more about the world through history and art and loves being introduced to new places, people and ideas.  On the off chance that she’s not buried in textbooks, research papers and policy analyses, Hannah can be found on a hike, watching movies or at any local bookstore or coffee shop, feeding her ongoing addictions to both caffeine and good books. Parcells is incredibly proud of the work she’s done at The Collegian so far and is excited to continue that work as an editor of the news desk.

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