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Graduating ASCSU seniors reflect on their experiences in student government

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Collegian | Hannah Parcells
Associated Students of Colorado State University Director of Governmental Affairs Michael Stella, Vice President Alex Silverhart, Director of Traditions and Programs Meron Siyoum and Director of Finance Ashton Duffield stand in front of the ASCSU office in the Lory Student Center April 17. “I think we should all strive to leave places like our universities better than we found them,” Stella said. “I think we should do that, and ASCSU is the best way to do that on campus.”

The end of the academic year is always a busy time for students. The weather is changing, finals are looming and summer is right around the corner. For many students, it also represents the end of their time at Colorado State University.

Everyone faces the end of a chapter differently, but for those who spent their years heavily involved in student government, it is a time to reflect on their hard work.

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The Associated Students of Colorado State University is not often a main focus of the broader campus conversation, even during times when they are most visible like their annual elections. In the most recent election, only 11% of the student body voted.

However, the organization flying under the radar doesn’t mean there isn’t work being done. For many graduating seniors, their tenure in ASCSU wasn’t just a checkbox on their college experience; it was a key part of their time at CSU that helped make them who they are now.

Despite all the time they’ve dedicated to their various projects and responsibilities, very few of the actual people behind the events, campus initiatives and legislative efforts are well known.

ASCSU Director of Governmental Affairs Michael Stella is one such student. Throughout his year as director, Stella has been instrumental in creating and advocating for several pieces of legislation designed to address issues facing college students in the Colorado General Assembly.

One of those bills is HB24-1018, which would remove state sales tax from textbook purchases if passed. Stella workshopped the initial idea and worked with Rep. Andrew Boesenecker to make it a reality.

“(I) didn’t have an idea, like, what I was going to do in this role or, like, the power that this organization has, but once you get in it and once you spent some time around, … you realize the impact that this organization can have,” Stella said. “(For) me as a senior who just now joined, (it left me) with a sense of regret that I should have done this earlier, but I’m happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish this year.”

Being a part of that process and getting to see the evolution of the idea into an actual piece of legislation has been especially unique, Stella said.

Despite the hard work that goes into such a large undertaking, the individuals involved in those efforts contribute significantly behind the scenes and leave the recognition to the organization.

“The responsibility of people in ASCSU or student government in general is to make life better for the people who might not be interested in it,” Stella said. “I think we do a disservice to students when we don’t take this work seriously.”

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ASCSU Director of Traditions and Programs Meron Siyoum worked to bring back old CSU traditions like Grill the Buffs to bring students together before the Rocky Mountain Showdown football game between CSU and the University of Colorado Boulder during the fall semester.

“A lot of people do know each other, (and) they talk outside of the office,” Siyoum said. “You end up having to get really close because you’re working on these, like, really large-scale projects together. And you want the support, and you want to be able to help other people as well.”

Siyoum said that one of her main goals has been to create third spaces for students to go and connect with the community.

“I think events and those third spaces are the way to do that,” Siyoum said. “Because suddenly you feel like you have a community. You feel more welcomed at CSU.”

Director of Finance Ashton Duffield used his position on the Board for Student Organization Funding to increase student organization awareness of ASCSU funding for student clubs and organizations at CSU.

“One initiative that I had this year was trying to get a lot of outreach,” Duffield said. “We had outreach events where we invited a bunch of student organizations to get them informed on the process because the process is really where you have power in getting funding. Because if you know how to do (it), it’s really beneficial.”

Duffield’s time in ASCSU was self-described as being “confusing then fun” because of the demands of the positions, but he said that the organization helped him with a lot of character growth.

“To be honest, I like everybody,” Duffield said. “They all have strong convictions about what they want. … Being around people who are really motivated all the time has made me a better person. … My experience isn’t the same as someone else’s, but I think everyone’s more similar than they think.”

ASCSU Vice President Alex Silverhart has served in several positions in the organization — senator for the College of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences and director of health in addition to his current role.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Silverhart said. “It’s been rocky. I think most people that are involved in student organizations, … it gets heated, but, like, these are some of my closest friends. Like, these are people that I hope to have connection with and friendship with for decades.”

Silverhart has worked closely in sexual and reproductive health care education around campus along with other departments in ASCSU, most notably the department of health. Silverhart has organized ASCSU’s monthly blood drive events and intends to take his passion for health and wellness into a career in the medical field.

Silverhart said he didn’t initially know what he wanted to focus on at ASCSU. He knew he wanted to help people, and through his work in different roles at ASCSU, Silverhart developed a passion for sexual and reproductive health.

“Being able to figure that out because of this organization, I feel like I will always be thankful for the existence of ASCSU, for the existence of student government and for the existence of CSU,” Silverhart said.

Reach Hannah Parcells at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @hannahparcells

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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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    Graduating SenatorApr 24, 2024 at 4:44 pm

    Thanks for inviting the graduating Senators and Judicial members 🙂 We love being involved in an organization who has swept us under the rug instead of recognizing our hard work.

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