Mar 292005
 
Authors: Caroline Welch

Politics, time commitment, wordy regulations and intimidation may contribute to the gap that seems to be getting bigger between students and their student government.

Last year, there were four tickets for Associated Students of CSU presidency; this year there are two. Senate seats are left open. There are no non-ASCSU students running for president and vice president this year compared to the two non-ASCSU tickets last year.

Courtney Stephens and Jon Muller are running against Chris Hutchins and Nicholette Andrews in the ASCSU elections that will take place April 4-6.

Jill Lysengen, senior technical journalism major and director of Public Relations for ASCSU, said students might not be involved because they are uninformed.

"Students don't know the amount of time it takes to be a part of the senate," Lysengen said. "They think it is too much of a time commitment."

According to Lysengen, an ASCSU cabinet position takes between 20 and 30 hours each week and is a paid position. A senate seat requires three voluntary office hours, attendance at Wednesday night meetings and serving on two committees, while an associate senate seat requires about four voluntary hours each week.

Positions on the Supreme Court vary, due to the unknown nature of potential hearings. Positions with Association for Student Activity Program are also available and are paid as well, she said.

"Many students don't know ASAP is a part of ASCSU," Lysengen said. "They put on programs like CSU Idol and Skeller Sessions."

And if it's not the time commitment keeping people out of the ASCSU office, it may be the intimidating feeling some students get walking into the office.

"I think students are intimidated when they walk into an office and see a bunch of people they don't know who are in 'positions of power,'" Lysengen said. "But we are so laid back."

Cheryl Hartshorn, a sophomore health and exercise science-sports medicine major, said she got involved a few weeks ago and is part of the election committee. She said a friend convinced her to join and that made it easier to get involved.

"I was kind of intimidated because they have their ways and procedures," Hartshorn said. "There are very specific bylaws that we are governed by. You have to know lots of wording."

But the jargon can be broken down and referred to if necessary, and the hardest part is being an outsider and not knowing the politics behind the organization, Hartshorn said,

"I am surprised by the amount of politics involved," she said. "Everyone wants to make CSU better, but there is still a lot of politics."

And while some fear the politics, others, like presidential candidate Courtney Stephens, seek it out.

Stephens said she has always been involved in student government and came to CSU seeking the same opportunities.

"I have always been student-government minded, so I went after it," Stephens said. "It was an easy process (to get involved)."

Stephens said she went to her college council and became an associate senator, eventually moving up to senator and is currently serving as the director of community affairs and that she feels very lucky.

"I am all about government," Stephens, a senior political science major said. "My favorite part is talking with people. This is what I want to do someday."

But ASCSU isn't just for the government-minded. Nicholette Andrews, vice-presidential candidate and current assistant director of Ramride, said interest is the only requirement.

"A lot of people think you have to be a political science major," Andrews said. "But that's not true. You just have to be interested in making a difference and helping out the student body."

Andrews' running mate, presidential candidate Chris Hutchins, said he got involved for the first time last year because he saw opportunities for improvement and wanted to make a change, mainly in communication.

"We need to get the word out to people," he said. "Students don't know what opportunities exist and no one knows how much ASCSU does."

Lysengen said there are a number of ways to get involved and encourage people to come into the office and to talk to Cord Brundage, interim administrative assistant of ASCSU. Brundage can connect students with someone in ASCSU and put students on the road to involvement. There are always ways to participate, no matter what major a student is in, she said.

"There is not always a position open," she said. "But we can find a position to fit anyone, like associate senator, committee member or assistant director."

Students who are not interested in a position, but would like to give feedback, can e-mail Lysengen at: publicrelations@ascsu.colostate.edu, or logon to www.ascsu.colostate.edu/contactus.

 

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