Vander Graaff: Rams show apathy in ASCSU elections

Abby Vander

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 year’s Associated Students of Colorado State University elections were turbulent. The response from the student body? Silence.

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Over the past few weeks, we saw candidates on The Plaza using dogs or candy as bait to share their platforms with fellow students. We walked over their names drawn on the sidewalk in chalk, and we saw their faces beckoning us from The Collegian’s newsstands. And of course, we were reminded to vote every time we logged into Canvas.

There was no excuse to abstain from casting a ballot in this year’s election.

According to The Collegian, 8,000 students voted in this year’s ASCSU elections — a record-breaking 26.6% of the student body. But with a student government that has been accused of polarization, misrepresentation and underrepresentation of its students, how can 26% be enough?

“Leading a student body or any group of people is a position of prestige that looks great on a resume. It should take more than aloofness and puppy bribery to achieve.”

ASCSU controls $57 million in student fees and is the primary point of contact between the students and CSU’s Board of Governors. The organization’s purpose is to represent the students, but right now, its members are the only ones that truly get represented.

More than 6,400 undergrads belong to the College of Liberal Arts, but there weren’t even enough senators on the ballot for one to get rejected. Some colleges didn’t even have a senator run.

The Amundson-Farias presidential campaign won this year’s election with 3,033 votes. But 33,413 students attend CSU, meaning that only 9% of CSU students actually support this presidency.

The Amundson-Farias presidential campaign won this year’s election with 3,033 votes. But 33,413 students attend CSU, meaning that only 9% of CSU students actually support this presidency.

During the election, The Collegian published a front-page story that investigated the funding of the Amundson-Farias campaign that was allegedly stolen from newsracks by associated members. Their response to the event was little more than a refrain of their “parking over politics” campaign mantra.

A campaign with this lack of transparency won the election, and lack of student engagement with ASCSU could have been the cause. Democracy doesn’t work unless the people hold their leaders accountable, and we do that by voting.

Leading a student body or any group of people is a position of prestige that looks great on a resume. It should take more than aloofness and puppy bribery to achieve.

College is where we learn how to act in the professional world. In holding our student government to low standards, we are training them to act the same way when they enter city or state positions that carry a much greater impact.

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CSU students showed they care about issues during the 2018 midterm election, when the campus was rife with political debate and democratic involvement. NPR reported that 37% of voters cast ballots in the 2018 midterm elections, and 60.1% of voters participated in the 2016 presidential elections.

According to the City of Fort Collins, 31.1% of 105,407 registered voters cast a ballot in the 2019 City elections April 2.

Students forget about the less glamorous local governments that affect how we live our day-to-day lives.

Local government dictates the very issues students complain about so often, such as traffic control, parking and the U+2 housing policy. Voting for ASCSU and local government members is the best way to solve problems like this.

A 26% voter turnout is a record, but it’s not enough. Failure to participate in elections is a portrayal of apathy toward yourself and your community. I hate to think of Rams as apathetic.

If you think CSU is perfect, go to one of the diversity offices on campus and ask them what issues they face. Pick up a newspaper and read past the headlines. Attend an ASCSU meeting. If you don’t like what you see, something needs to change. But nothing can ever change if it goes unrecognized.

Abby Vander Graaff can be reached at letters@collegian.com or Twitter at @abbym_vg.