Letter: Josh Silva explains how ASCSU has failed the student body

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I am humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support from community members following my impeachment as president of the Associated Students of Colorado State University. I also know that the events that transpired during the last ASCSU Senate session should leave anyone on campus horrified.

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ASCSU is a black mark on the credibility of your student government and a slap in the face to you, the students. After an election that gave CSU the highest turnout in four years, 1,440 students elected me as your student body president. On November 15th, twenty-two senators, many of them unelected, decided to take away that electoral choice, for reasons that they, campus partners, and even the student media can’t explain. They did not inform their constituents, or consult with their colleges, or present their offices with truthful information. A director and three senators quit in disgust that night.

Being in the Senate chambers that night, there were times I feared for my and several others’ safety, and for weeks, I didn’t speak about this publicly for fear of my words being used against me and retaliation from the proponents of the petition, as were a lot of other people in ASCSU. For too long we have had a culture that rewards driving out people who you don’t like under false and made up pretenses, and this impeachment is the poster child. We have a serious problem with this, and if you don’t believe me, just ask the last two ASCSU presidents. Campus tensions are at a breaking point with bias-related incidents occurring across campus, but tragically your student government is paralyzed and unable to meaningfully act on your behalf because of the internal drama and toxic environment that has consumed it. The Senate parliamentarian himself said the night of my impeachment that removing me wouldn’t solve anything- it would only silence a dissenting point of view.

If my predecessor, two vice presidents, the clear majority of my cabinet, my main opponent for the presidency, the last person to be impeached, and current and former senators speaking on my behalf (as well as the students of Colorado Mesa University) could not change the minds of these senators, it is evident that most of them made up their minds and presumed my guilt before even seeing any evidence. It’s heartbreaking to me that several individuals who supposedly represent you, the students, waste their time with internal documents and spend twelve weeks (four weeks longer than the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton) defaming my character to get their fifteen minutes of fame.

I want to be clear that I am not writing this to deflect attention from the accusations against me, as the Wall Street Journal allegations are, and have been from the first day, deeply misleading at best and outright false at worst and no one really believes them. No funds were given and no contract was signed. I didn’t need the Senate’s permission to spend the money the contract would have been funded with, since it came from funds allocated under my account and the Executive Branch and no money needed to be moved.

What I needed to do was present the contract and its details to the Senate before signing it, but unfortunately the impeachment petition was first brought up that night . I never got a chance to properly present it, let alone sign it. This is a deal that would have come to you, the students, for free, and it was undermined for reasons the impeachment proponents themselves admitted to several individuals, including me, were political in nature.

The Wall Street Journal didn’t matter, though. It never mattered. It was just a pretense to dig up any dirt they could find on me for the purpose of impeachment. That is why there was never any attempt by the petitioner or most signers to have a conversation with me and learn the facts behind the accusations. Any attempt by me or others to do so or to communicate genuine feelings or concerns was labeled as harassment, intimidation, retaliation, discrimination, you name it, all for the sake of political persuasion.

That brings me to the other accusations: the character attacks. To say that I was impeached because of my unprofessionalism and failed leadership is to negate and deny the opinion of the supermajority in my Cabinet, who stayed until 12:30 am supporting me as a small group of ideological senators engaged in unprecedented character assassination against me. No one outside the four walls of ASCSU that night believed that a word of those accusations, even accusations that violated confidentiality of the university’s ongoing Office of Equal Opportunity investigation.

The worst accusation that sticks out in my mind is when a certain senator accused me of driving people to self-harm or suicide because of my toxic presence and attitude. Beyond all the violations concerning mandatory reporting, that accusation, lobbed to score political points, is absolutely disgusting, and that individual should be ashamed of themselves. The same people in ASCSU who pushed for my removal will try to sweep what happened under the rug. They will try to pretend that everyone has or needs to move on, or say that productivity has never been higher. When the Senate meets later today, there will be seven bills and resolutions brought to the floor in the name of productivity, but what your representatives don’t tell you is that six out of those seven deal only with internal ASCSU stuff. Don’t take this slap on the face from the people who are supposed to be your representatives.

If I was guilty of the things I was accused of, I would have resigned because I have too much respect for the students who pay us to do our jobs. If I really had harassed someone, I shouldn’t have been impeached: I should have been removed by the University.

People who are guilty of the things I was accused of don’t sit through twelve weeks of their name being dragged through the mud and the personal, social, and academic toll of being repeatedly defamed, demeaned, and denigrated. I just hope that what happened to me and the behaviors that occur in ASCSU (that have now been demonstrated both in print and on camera)are enough to spark the genuine change we all want and desperately need. You have the right to demand better of your student government than what you have been getting. The senator who initiated the impeachment proceedings against me said that this whole debacle was about being accountable and being able to be transparent. It’s time for the student body to hold everyone in ASCSU to that same standard.

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Josh Silva

Former ASCSU President

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