Neustadter: Peña and Gebretsadik need more tangible ideas

Corinne Neustadter

Editor’s Note: In order to evaluate each candidate, a few Collegian columnists discuss where they believe each candidate thrives and where they fall short. 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 semester marks the Associated Students of Colorado State University’s annual presidential election with four different tickets running for the positions of president and vice president. The presidential and vice presidential candidates Adam Peña and Merry Gebretsadik are both third-year students with leadership experience in a wealth of campus organizations who are running on “building unity in (the CSU) community.”

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Peña and Gebretsadik have solid policies built around pressing issues for students, but they have room to grow in their policy platforms to make them more tangible.

Peña and Gebretsadik’s platform consists of four major points: community-building for unity, food insecurity, advocacy and tangibility, which are all explained in greater detail below.

Community-building for unity

Peña and Gebretsadik hope to use virtual platforms such as Zoom to make college deans and University administrators more connected with the students they serve. To help students who may not be comfortable expressing their opinions on Zoom, they also plan to set up an online survey for students to voice their concerns in a more personalized and private way.

To connect students with the Fort Collins community, they want to work directly with Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement to make community service projects more readily available to students. Connecting students with their college deans and higher University administration by utilizing web technologies could significantly help students voice their concerns in a more productive way.

However, it remains unclear how Peña and Gebretsadik would organize community service activities on behalf of the entire student body, given social distancing guidelines and restrictions on group activities on campus. More communication and collaboration between students and administration is sorely needed during this stressful time; however, it may not be feasible to build community via in-person service learning projects this semester.

“publicizing resources for food-insecure students could improve access to food banks, but will not remedy food insecurity on campus.”

Food insecurity

To help out Rams who are currently experiencing food insecurity, Peña and Gebretsadik want to publicize the various programs the SLiCE office offers to students and the benefits that students may be eligible for in this challenging time. To further assist students, the team wants to make students more aware of benefits they might not know they are eligible for, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through the state of Colorado, which could be helpful for students who qualify for work-study or who work 20 or more hours per week.

Many students are unaware of the Mobile Food Pantries and food bank programs on campus, so vocalizing these opportunities through ASCSU could help. It may also be helpful to collaborate with local food banks in the Fort Collins area to expand food bank hours on campus or put more student fee funding toward mobile food pantries around campus to ensure greater access to food for students. 

However, while publicizing resources for food-insecure students could improve access to food banks, it will not remedy food insecurity on campus.

Advocacy

As student leaders who have held a wealth of positions on campus, they focus on how important it is to “bridge the gap” between students and University administration to have a positive impact on both parties. They want to advocate for the students and create policies centered around making CSU an “equitable and inclusive university.”

Tangibility 

In their platform, Peña and Gebretsadik highlight the importance of producing tangible results for the CSU community and advocating on behalf of all students for better polices. They want to address issues that need “immediate attention.” However, they hardly elaborate on what these issues are.

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These policies are great first steps towards addressing student issues on campus, but they need more backing to make a difference in student engagement.

Corinne Neustadter can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @cneustad.