Blouch: ASCSU campaigns need more tangible solutions

Cat Blouch

Cinque Mason, Christian Dykson. John Williamson, and Lys Taddei speak at presidential debate
Pictured from left Cinque Mason, Christian Dykson, John Williamson and Lys Taddei speak at the Associated Students of Colorado State University 2021-22 presidential debate March 24. (Cat Blouch | The Collegian)

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When Hannah Taylor and her running mate Noah Schindler won the Associated Students of Colorado State University presidential election back in September 2020, I was shocked at the 15.33% voter turnout. Was it a miscalculation? Surely our student leaders hadn’t been elected from the vote of less than a quarter of the student body. 

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The number is correct. After listening to this round of presidential debates, I worry for a similar fate. 

Why is there such little engagement? One of the reasons many students don’t bother themselves with the election is that they don’t know what ASCSU is. During the presidential debate, candidate Christian Dykson said, “40% of our campus knows what ASCSU is.” 

The hope of making a change falls short without strong foundations of concrete goals, which is what many of the campaigns in the 2021-2022 election fall short of.”

The group of candidates from this election echo similar sentiments from years past to alleviate this issue. Transparency, outreach and involvement are buzzwords thrown out from candidates as if they were reading from a script from years past. 

So why exactly do we keep seeing the same issues pop up time and time again? The hope of making a change falls short without strong foundations of concrete goals, which is what many of the campaigns in the 2021-22 election fall short of. 

When asked how candidates plan to deliver on transparency, Lys Taddei responded “making sure that CSU and ASCSU are working soundly together is our first task. I would love to audit what the University is spending money on; that way we can deliver that information back to you, the students, who are ultimately paying for that. Honesty is very important. … My job as president is to build a bridge from the administration back to you.” 

The “bridge” that Taddei speaks of is something that many long for, but we cannot promise such a bridge without first recognizing all the materials and engineering required in construction; the goal is admirable but there lacks a definitive method of achieving it. 

It is this very lack of tangible solutions that create the never-ending cycle of empty promises repeated every year by candidates, and we cannot expect the student body to vote when they don’t know for certain what policy they are voting for.”

In many ways, Taddei’s response is a microcosm of the pitfalls of many of this year’s campaigns. When Dykson was asked how he plans to lead a government that works for students, he asked, “What would it look like if we took all of our desks — this may not be pragmatic — but took all of our desks onto The Plaza and worked a whole day there? Or in front of Sweet Sinsations? … We want to be where you are because we know you all often don’t come to us.”

While the sentiment is admirable, Dykson himself admitted it’s not practical. Substantial results to transparency should include empirical evidence: If they plan to use social media, they should ask which social media platform reaches the greatest number of students. Tabling on The Plaza is great, but how many students walk through this area of campus now that less and less students are physically on campus? On which day and at what time could they maximize contact?

It is this very lack of tangible solutions that create the never-ending cycle of empty promises repeated every year by candidates, and we cannot expect the student body to vote when they don’t know for certain what policy they are voting for. 

When candidates lack purposeful intentions, the temptation of using personal attacks against opponents becomes appealing.

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“With all due respect, you have been in ASCSU for eons — you’re practically a dinosaur — yet it seems you have not achieved much,” Taddei addressed Dykson. Would an ad hominem against an opponent be necessary if the strength of a campaign spoke for itself?

Ultimately, the resolute goal for these student leaders is to represent the students and bring positive change to the CSU community. While I respect the hard work all four campaigns have already done and will continue to do after the election, I urge them all to consider how much more they could be doing for students with the use of data, evidence and goals that are tangible both to their administrations and the student body. 

Cat Blouch can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BlouchCat.