Blouch: The real issues with ASCSU are internal

Fourth-year+business+student+Elizabeth+Rencher+introduces+herself+during+the+first+senate+meeting+of+the+semester+for+the+Associated+Students+of+Colorado+State+University+Aug.+31.+I+just+heard+about+students+doing+so+many+amazing+things+on+campus%2C+Rencher+said.+I+really+wanted+to+get+involved.

Collegian | Cat Blouch

Fourth-year business student Elizabeth Rencher introduces herself during the first senate meeting of the semester for the Associated Students of Colorado State University Aug. 31. “I just heard about students doing so many amazing things on campus,” Rencher said. “I really wanted to get involved.”

Cat Blouch, Social Media Editor

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.

What do you think of when you hear about the Associated Students of Colorado State University?

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For some students at Colorado State University, ASCSU is a place where they can make an impact. Other students hear about the organization in passing, such as during election season, while the remainder of students don’t know what ASCSU is or what they are responsible for. 

When asked the question, “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: I know what ASCSU is responsible for?” 135 CSU student respondents answered in the following ways:

  • 31.85% said “strongly disagree” 
  • 26.67% said “disagree”
  • 5.93% said “neither agree nor disagree”
  • 25.93% said “agree”
  • 9.63% said “strongly agree” 

Though the results are across the board, the majority of respondents — nearly 60% — said they don’t know what ASCSU is responsible for. This is a notion ASCSU President Rob Long echoed, saying, “I think right now, the student body … is very confused as to what we do.”

So why is there such a disconnect? Is it because information about the organization isn’t available, or is it simply not reaching the student body? 

When asked the question, “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: ASCSU is transparent with the student body?” 127 respondents answered in the following ways:

  • 21.26% said “strongly disagree” 
  • 23.62% said “disagree”
  • 42.52% said “neither agree nor disagree” 
  • 11.02% said “agree”
  • 1.57% said “strongly agree”

Again, we’re seeing slightly unfavorable results here. Speaker of the Senate Nick DeSalvo said the organization is “transparent in a sense that with our senate meetings everything is recorded and put on YouTube, (and) there’s a chance for gallery input for anyone who wants to speak on behalf of any issue.” 

DeSalvo has a point. There are resources that fill in the student body as to what ASCSU is working on. The ASCSU website has a tab for each branch of the organization in addition to a tab that helps students get involved.

“If ASCSU was able to focus on its internal power struggles in addition to making its resources more accessible, it’s very possible the organization could make huge positive impacts on the CSU community.”

Senate meetings are recorded and put on YouTube, open for the general public to view. Here at The Collegian, we publish weekly updates on ASCSU and what they’re working on. The resources that make ASCSU transparent are there, but whether the general student body is aware of them is a different matter. 

If the disconnect between ASCSU and the student body isn’t due to a transparency issue, then where is the root of the problem? Perhaps the issue is internal — within the organization itself.

“I think the respect has been lost,” DeSalvo said. “I campaigned on this: The senate environment is a toxic environment.”

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DeSalvo went on to say, “There are instances where somebody, maybe in an influential position who’s vocal, can kind of bully others into submission on a bill that really isn’t controversial, but maybe they don’t like the author of that bill, and so they consistently try to make a mountain out of a molehill and make a nonissue an issue.” 

Long mirrored this statement.

“I think one thing we could improve upon is just general respect towards one another in the space,” Long said. “I think sometimes, you know, if someone disagrees with your bill, they just take it personally, and they’ll never want to work with you again.”

Ideally, ASCSU and the student body are supposed to have a mutual relationship. This starts with transparency. While ASCSU is headed in the right direction here with the resources already available, they need to make sure they are doing the proper student outreach so students are aware of all the resources. 

Once students become aware of what takes place within the organization, it’s easier for them to hold the organization accountable. Accountability will make it harder for individuals solely focused on personal or political goals to hold the power within the senate space. 

In many ways, ASCSU is a microcosm of our own government. Instead of working together on common goals, we see infighting and fractures over bipartisan issues. Thankfully, ASCSU is working on a much smaller scale, and there are fewer obstacles toward the goal of unifying student leaders toward common goals as opposed to personal gains. 

If ASCSU was able to focus on its internal power struggles in addition to making its resources more accessible, it’s very possible the organization could make huge positive impacts on the CSU community.

But just as ASCSU has a commitment to transparency and respect, as a student body, it is also our responsibility to hold them accountable. I encourage you to become familiar with these resources: Sit in on a senate meeting, read a weekly update or walk into the ASCSU office and speak to the student leaders face to face. It goes both ways, as any symbiotic relationship should.

Reach Cat Blouch at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BlouchCat.