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ASCSU president’s office attempts to postpone cabinet member’s ratification over statement criticizing DeSalvo

Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
The speaking podium of the ASCSU senate chamber Jan. 31.

Following a protest Wednesday, May 1, in the Associated Students of Colorado State University senate chambers in regard to President Nick DeSalvo’s decision to not sign Bill #5319, “The Humanity and Community Act,” several members of the organization, including DeSalvo himself, released statements on social media regarding the decision.

“The Humanity and Community Act,” which, among other things, condemns the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and officially calls for a ceasefire in Gaza on behalf of ASCSU, was passed in the senate by way of a 16-2-5 vote.


In his statement released on the official ASCSU Instagram page, DeSalvo explained his decision to not sign the bill. 

“I respect the decision of my peers, but I do not feel as though it is my place as student body president to determine a country is guilty of committing genocide when the International Court of Justice could not definitively make that claim,” DeSalvo’s statement reads. “I am and always have been prepared to sign this bill with one amendment: replacing ‘genocide’ with ‘war crimes.’” 

Following the statement from DeSalvo, several members of ASCSU released their own statements regarding the bill and DeSalvo’s words, including Senator-Emeritus Sammy Trout, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leticia Madrigal-Tapia and Director of Health Jorja Whyte.

Trout, Madrigal-Tapia and Whyte all released their statements on their personal social media accounts, but each identified themselves by their positions in ASCSU and expressed disappointment with DeSalvo’s statement and lack of action on Bill #5319.

“I urge our elected student body president, who claims to be in representation of the 33,000 Rams on campus, to take a critical look as to what representation truly means,” Madrigal-Tapia’s statement reads. “To say that you represent these students means you also represent students with oppressed identities. This also entails accepting the responsibility, particularly as someone who holds privilege as a white man, to fully uphold these values.”

The statement released by Whyte also spoke to the idea of the responsibility of someone in a position of power and how it relates to public statements on the issue. 

“As the director of health, my mission is to increase the holistic wellbeing of EVERY single student here at CSU,” Whyte’s statement reads. “I feel it is my duty and responsibility to make an explicit statement condemning the decision of ASCSU’s president. … We have a pressing responsibility to show up for humankind.”

Whyte’s statement has drawn the most attention, as Whyte is the only returning member of the cabinet to publicly release an official statement. 

Like Trout and Madrigal-Tapia, Whyte received both support and disapproval in response to her statement, but the largest response came from the leadership within the ASCSU executive branch.


Whyte said she received a message from Vice President-elect Braxton Dietz early Friday morning requesting a meeting to discuss the concerns expressed in her statement. 

A meeting was set for that afternoon between Whyte, Dietz, DeSalvo and current Deputy Director of Health Jakye Nunley. Nunley was confirmed by the ASCSU senate as the next chief of staff and will officially take over that role June 1.

The meeting was initially supposed to be about the statement itself and the fact that Whyte sent the statement to an email chain that included all of ASCSU staff. Madrigal-Tapia did the same before her but wasn’t spoken to about it, Whyte said. 

The meeting focused instead on whether releasing the statement at all was OK.

“(I was told that) to use my position as a platform to issue my statement was not acceptable,” Whyte said.

“If I have to lose this job to stand up for human rights, that’s what it is. If that’s what they’re going to do to me, that’s a decision that they are making.” -Jorja Whyte, ASCSU director of health

When Whyte asked why DeSalvo could release a statement but members of the executive cabinet could not, she was told the responsibilities of the job as president empower him to do so.

Whyte then reiterated that she felt she should also have the power to do so in her role and said she would not “compromise (her) values for this position.”

DeSalvo told her she was “welcome to stop collecting a paycheck from this organization” if that was how she felt, effectively ending the meeting, Whyte said.

Dietz and Nunley approached Whyte after the meeting and spoke with her once more, this time without DeSalvo present.

This is when Whyte was informed they would be postponing her ratification by the senate as director of basic needs for the upcoming year. The ratification was scheduled to take place alongside the rest of the executive cabinet just a few hours later at an emergency senate session.

Whyte said she told Dietz and Nunley that she still wanted to be ratified and serve in the position and could still work with DeSalvo but that she was unwilling to rescind her public statement.

“I felt the need to really reaffirm and tell them, ‘I just want to make sure that you know that if I’m not getting ratified tonight, that’s a choice,’” Whyte said. “‘That’s a decision that you are making. That’s not a decision that I’m (making).’”

Before the emergency session of the 54th senate convened, DeSalvo confirmed that the decision to wait on Whyte’s ratification had been made and explained some of the reasoning behind it.

“I welcome disagreement — I’ve always said that — … but there’s an understanding that there’s only one person that gives the entirety of the student perspective, and that’s the person that’s elected by students,” DeSalvo said. 

He further explained that he does not believe it is his job to publicly “pick a side” because he feels it does a disservice to the communities on campus that such a statement might alienate.

“It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in human rights and the rights of the Palestinian people to have dignity and respect and their homeland,” DeSalvo said. “But when you question my character publicly without consulting me privately about that disagreement, that’s not OK.”

The decision to postpone Whyte’s ratification was reached after careful consideration of whether those involved were in the position to have a fair conversation about the situation, Nunley said.

“What this does is give everybody the time, space and ability to make the correct decision not based on emotions or current feelings and (the) height of things,” Nunley said. “There are conversations that need to be had. I just think that the prerequisite to those conversations is time, specifically intentional time for people to process.”

Nunley said the move had nothing to do with Whyte’s capabilities when it comes to the role, and he believes she is an “amazing candidate.”

Before the ratification process began, Dietz spoke to the senate body about the decision.

“We felt that that ratification would be emotion-fueled on all party sides and that there are some concerns currently with that candidate’s actions as it pertains to the ASCSU Code of Ethics,” Dietz said. “I would like to make it clear that this is not a retaliatory move.”

While it was the intention of the office of the president to postpone Whyte’s ratification during senate, the move was blocked by the senate body as the ratification of the director of basic needs was already on the agenda, and in order to remove it, a motion to do so must be voted on by the senate.

The motion to remove the ratification was put forward and received a vote, but it was rejected by way of a majority vote, and Whyte’s ratification was allowed to proceed. After answering questions put forth by various senators, Whyte was ratified as the next director of basic needs by the 54th senate.

In a statement after the close of the session, Trout expressed disappointment with the attempted postponement of Whyte’s ratification.

“It’s interesting that the DeSalvo-Dietz campaign claim to be advocates of democracy, and yet when a member of their cabinet goes against them, they are thrown to the side,” Trout said. “The attempt by this new administration is a concerning attempt to silence dissent, and I urge Nick and Braxton to really reflect before consequences of their actions come knocking.”

Throughout the events of the session, Whyte maintained that the decision from the office of the president to postpone her ratification had not been her choice.

“If I have to lose this job to stand up for human rights, that’s what it is,” Whyte said. “If that’s what they’re going to do to me, that’s a decision that they are making.”

Reach Hannah Parcells at or on Twitter @hannahparcells.

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About the Contributor
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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  • A

    A fly on the wallMay 5, 2024 at 11:55 pm

    For the last year and a half Nick and Rob have been weaponizing that dang Discord like it was a dagger— little did they know it was a rubber duckie. I lived with someone who was in that Discord server and I would literally just hear them giggling until like 1 am. They would hop on a group call because some of the young members were walking home late and they wanted to make sure they got home safe. I guess Rob would be right if encouraging your peers to learn from your mistakes as a poorly hydrated teen is hazing. They surely must have felt so pressured to conform after being gently urged to care of their bodies and brains by eating enough and to practice street smarts so they can return home to their families and loved ones. But obviously that’s ridiculous. (The Collegian published Rob’s LTTE accusing them of said hazing, for the record.)

    They are grasping at straws at this point. Saying anything that feeds their delusion of power. In the words of President DeSalvo, “accountability is coming.” XOXO

  • A

    Angry StudentMay 5, 2024 at 12:01 am

    What an narcissistic view on things. “I am the only one who can speak” when it is clear you do not use your voice for the students you represent. This is absolutely retaliation and I hope CSU General Counsel straightens y’all up before a lawsuit comes your way.

  • A

    ASCSU WhistleblowerMay 4, 2024 at 11:36 pm

    I really wish Board of Govs didn’t remove impeachment. I truly hope students hold Nick accountable for his gross actions. He has been allowed to get away with some awful things during his tenure in ASCSU and I’m glad that folk are finally coming out in droves to speak about their experiences.
    For folk who do not know, here is what the ASCSU Constitution outlines for impeachment”
    “An ASCSU Official will be impeached and removed from office
    for the following reasons:
    i. A serious violation of the Student Conduct Code, as
    determined by the Student Resolution Center.
    ii. A serious violation of University policy, as determined by the
    Office of Equal Opportunity.”

    Pay attention to your student government. So many abuses of power have been swept under the rug because nobody knows what happens.

    An engaged student body is an informed student body.

    • F

      Former ASCSU Senator & CSU AlumMay 6, 2024 at 2:27 pm

      Someone should start that petition soon. ASCSU did impeach a president (Josh Silva) back in 2017, and it took several weeks (12 at least) for that to happen.

  • S

    Senator WhistleblowerMay 4, 2024 at 9:05 pm

    Someone needs to say this, so I will. Nicholas DeSalvo, as Speaker, accused SDPS Senators without evidence of being a cult, and was bolstered by former President Robert Long who furthered those claims by accusing older members of hazing younger members in SDPS. While there was tension and conflict among SDPS Senate Officials, it was never hazing, nor a cult, and SDPS pro staff helped resolve that conflict. He points to a now deleted Discord server as proof of “dark corruption” when in fact, that discord was deleted because people were talking poorly about a few members in the space who were actively being racist, homophobic and antisemitic. It was also deleted to protect the dignity of members who mainly used it to share incredibly personal things they were going through. Rithik Correa was on the receiving end of most of that gossip, 90% of it, along with Robert Long, Kyle Hill and Jessica Laffey. I won’t say who, but the worst of the content of that discord I saw was a member of one of the SDPS offices saying they wanted to throw dog poop at Rithik after he attempted to block the DEI Affairs Committee Bill. Other members vented about feeling uncomfortable around Robert Long and Kyle Hill because of inappropriate conduct, like using dating apps in the ASCSU Office and innuendos directed towards current and former Officials. Some members were given mean nicknames, Jessica Laffey was called “banana laffy taffy” following her public speech in which she compared abortion to the victims of the Holocaust as well as WW2. I’m willing to bet these members also gossiped and talked poorly about SDPS Senators behind their backs too. SDPS Senators were accused of claiming everyone was a white supremacist which is untrue. SDPS was hesitant because its known that Turning Point USA will put candidates into student government positions, and Rithik Correa tried to get the president of TPUSA into Senate which was concerning given that individuals history of racist and homophobic remarks. Some of the comments made in that discord were absolutely mean spirited, and not okay. A good portion were people venting. Venting about loss of family members, their parents divorce, feeling silenced, and breakups. It was deleted when it was being leaked because there were things shared individuals weren’t sharing publicly, and it’s no one’s business who got broken up with and who’s parents were getting divorced. It was gossip. It was venting. It wasn’t ever a cult. When Ritter and Trout ran, he tried to force them out of the race via complaints, but was never investigated for violating the election code for securing the endorsement of the Ft. Collins Mayor long before that election began, a flagrant violation of the Election Code. He also denied accommodations and refused to mediate them through the SDC regarding email communications (in addition to University Policy, which requires all official communications be sent over email, not Slack). The one Lex he wrote to constitutionally mandate collaboration between SDPS and College Senator spectacularly failed, and was rightfully criticized by both SDPS and College Senators as being unnecessary and harmful to collaboration in the long run. In the 52nd Senate, Senators voiced concerns about clearly documented harassment of a former member of students uninvolved in SDPS offices and what did he do? Lose his temper at the members for voicing their lack of confidence in this person’s ability to serve on SFRB. Now, he is directly retaliating against a returning member of his cabinet for holding a different opinion than his own. He released a public statement, so did Whyte. It’s laughable he’s claimed to be a proponent of respectful disagreement, listening to all students voices, and freedom of speech. I seriously hope the University fully investigates this and his very clear retaliatory actions against a student employee. I wish I could say I was surprised, but alas, I am not. President DeSalvo, you will never be half the President as Christian Dykson, and you are bringing nothing but shame and corruption to this organization. It’s past the point of calling for you to do better, it’s time for the people around you to hold you accountable, including University officials. The emperor has no clothes. I hope someone finally does something about it.

    • F

      Fellow WhistleblowerMay 5, 2024 at 12:04 am

      Praying this is the year of accountability that ASCSU has needed for YEARS!

      • S

        Senator WhistleblowerMay 5, 2024 at 11:50 pm

        Agreed. While I’m at it, I realized I didn’t talk about what Robert Long claimed was hazing, false allegations Nick very much stood by. In SDPS, the majority of SDPS officials were 18-22 and there were a few Senators who were adult learners. Some of the younger members often would go 12 hours without eating or be super dehydrated or not sleep and cram for tests and so a couple of the older members in the discord would be tagged by other younger members to get older members to bother people into taking care of themselves, as well as those older members being persistent about making sure people got home okay and just generally taking care of themselves so the older members became Mom/Dad/Parents, a joke started by the younger members. On discord you can create custom roles and so those were just turned into roles as a joke with separate channels made as a part of that inside joke that was initiated by everyone. No one was shunned with those roles or channels, or silenced for that matter, they were honestly rarely used and only used as a joke. Robert and Nick managed to take being a mom friend and twist that into false allegations of hazing. By the time the discord was deleted, that was also a group decision, and one made to preserve privacy of members. I never saw it be used to shame people or isolate them, let alone haze anyone. It’s agreed that the op-ed Rob Long published was completely false, but again, ASCSU have perfected the art of coverup. I really hope SDPS Officials, both current members and alumni, get justice as well as Whyte. I’m fortunate to personally haven’t experienced the worst of the sexual harassment I’ve heard many of the women of color have had to go through in the ASCSU Office. There’s so many problems and it’s BAD.

  • C

    CharlieMay 4, 2024 at 9:04 pm

    lol why am I not surprised Desalvo reacted exactly as he always does…leading with that fragile male ego