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Letter from the Editors: ASCSU candidates, why should we vote for you?

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. This letter from the editor is from The Collegian upper management team: Haley Candelario, Collegian editor-in-chief; Shelby Holsinger, Collegian managing editor; and Mikaela Rodenbaugh, Collegian digital production manager. Candelario has reported on the Associated Students of Colorado State University since Spring 2017.

Dear readers,

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Every year, The Collegian has endorsed a campaign running for president and vice president of the Associated Students of Colorado State University.

Last year, we strayed from tradition and endorsed the student body, advocating for them to vote in the election. This year, we’re straying from tradition again and offering the pros and cons of each campaign.

But this year’s elections felt different.

We have had major issues with the way some campaigns have conducted themselves this election season while out on The Plaza.

Ultimately, the offices of ASCSU should not be a popularity contest, but rather an opportunity to serve the student body. And we take great offense knowing some of the candidates are campaigning to students under the guise that they have a positive relationship with members of The Collegian.

Telling students walking through The Plaza that The Collegian loves you or that a Collegian reporter is your best friend is not only a blatant lie, but it puts us in the predicament of looking biased towards a campaign. We work incredibly hard to report the facts as best as we can and give fair coverage to everyone involved in elections this year and every year.

Last Wednesday, several Collegian editors were in our newsroom until almost midnight working on the election guide that printed Thursday.

As it got later in the night, we grew more frustrated every time an issue popped up, but we pushed through.

We even made an effort to include coverage of a third Speaker of the Senate candidate when it was announced that evening that he would be running because we owed it to our readers to cover all the candidates.

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We discussed how we would give fair coverage to every campaign, so our readers would not think we preferred one candidate over another.

Questions like, “How can we fix this campaign’s page so it looks like the rest of the campaign pages?”; “Is this campaign’s photo as big as the photos on the other campaign pages?”; and “Are all the campaign features all around the same word count?” were frequently asked as we put together the election guide.

Comments such as “The Collegian loves us!” negate the hard work we do to make sure readers don’t think we are biased towards a specific campaign.

And we’ll be honest with you, reader: On The Collegian editorial board, we don’t prefer one campaign over another. If anything, we prefer none.

We’ve heard from several of our editors and reporters that candidates have chased them down on The Plaza as members of The Collegian, and have asked them if they are going to vote for their campaign because they managed to remember the name of that person.

Collegian Managing Editor Shelby Holsinger and Collegian News Director Austin Fleskes were told by a specific campaign that a new reporter, who recently joined the staff in February, was going to vote for him.

The reporter almost lost her opportunity to grow at The Collegian through reporting on ASCSU because her alleged friendship with this candidate would have been considered a conflict of interest in her ability to report on the election season.

One candidate commented directly to us as upper-management editors, “We’re going to get The Collegian’s endorsement because we’re best friends with them.” We told the candidates we would appreciate if they would stop making comments like that to us and to our staff, to which the candidates responded that it was just a joke.

The statement was not taken lightly by us because of the ethical concerns it raises and because of The Collegian’s history with ASCSU.

Comments like these create an unintentional violation of the third principle of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, which we follow as a publication. This principle of acting independently states that journalists should avoid conflicts of interest, whether they are real or perceived.

This means that if a reporter really is close friends with a candidate, they would not be able to report on that candidate or the election because it would be considered a conflict of interest.

Many editors and reporters have come to dread walking through The Plaza because they know a candidate will chase them down and announce to the campus that they are friends with The Collegian.

Last Monday, Candelario and Holsinger experienced this for themselves.

The first words the candidate said to us were to the effect of, “Are you voting for me?” before informing us about the platform that he is running on or giving us a reason why he should have our vote.

Last Thursday, as Candelario walked through The Plaza, another candidate offered her his campaign flyer. Candelario said, “No, thank you.” As she continued walking, he called behind her, “The Collegian loves us!”

Historically, many members of ASCSU have argued the opposite, echoing the sentiment, “The Collegian is biased and never wants to write about the good things that happen in ASCSU.”

The organization has often wanted to view its relationship with The Collegian as a marketing and public relations opportunity, and they express their frustrations when we report on issues that arise within the organization, such as $800,000 being overlooked by past presidential administrations and the impeachment of a former student body president, which, as far as we could tell, stemmed from personal issues among ASCSU staff.

We have written about the positive efforts the organization has made, such as the Water Bottle Bill and the organization’s campaign to change the U+2 housing ordinance to Me+3, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ignore the issues that come up, too.

We see this every time ASCSU debates the merits of continuing student subscriptions to student media when the contract between the organization and our parent company, the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation, is up for renewal.

We’ve worked very hard this year to establish a professional relationship between ASCSU and RMSMC, without jeopardizing our ethics as journalists at RMSMC.

But it shouldn’t matter if we have a good professional relationship with you as a candidate or if we’ve gotten to know each other when taking a class together it doesn’t mean you have our vote. The same thing should go for all students.

We recognize this isn’t an issue across all campaigns. Some have not stopped us on The Plaza or made comments about our perceived favoritism towards their campaign, but many have not impressed us by being in touch with the actual needs of our student body.

So we want to know, for those who are asking students, “Can I count on your vote?” — why should you?  

Haley Candelario, Shelby Holsinger, and Mikaela Rodenbaugh are the editor-in-chief, managing editor and digital production manager of The Collegian. They can be reached at editor@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
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