Following a back-and-forth debate that lasted more than three hours, the Associated Students of CSU voted to pass a resolution Wednesday night denouncing a troop escalation in the Iraq War.
The CSU student government passed in a 12-8 vote for Resolution 3619, a non-binding resolution supporting opposition to President Bush’s decision to send over 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.
Senators ping-ponged on whether a student voting body should make a stance on issues normally reserved for state and national lawmakers. At least one of two senators who abstained did so based on this argument.
“We are simply not privy to all the information that make an informed decision possible,” said Blake Gibson, a sophomore health and exercise science major. “This bill has an impact beyond our ability.”
The resolution is sponsored by Iraq War veteran Ben Schrader who supported the conflict at the start, but after serving a year in the war-torn region, Schrader said he was not about to support it.
“Before I went to Iraq I was in support of what we were doing, but once I was there and saw all the horrible things, I had to be against it,” said Schrader, a sophomore political science and sociology major.
Freshman political science major Travis Hall said he appreciated the debate but it wasn’t the place of ASCSU to make such a decision.
“This debate needs to take place but if you take a stance on this it’s going to alienate a lot of people,” Hall said.
Luke Ragland, a junior political science major and director of ASCSU legislative affairs, said part of the inspiration to kick-start such a bill came from a visit to the State Senate.
“We saw floor debate and action on the Senate floor,” said Ragland, who is not a voting member of ASCSU.
The student government resolution is a similar measure launched by the Colorado General Assembly last week. The resolutions are symbolic and carry no legal weight.
Internal ASCSU polling conducted by Schrader shows that of the CSU students surveyed, 73 percent are in favor of the resolution, thus against troop escalation. Opponents said the poll was unscientific and didn’t reach out to enough students.
“I am a little concerned we cannot represent the student voice without really knowing what the student voice is,” said Erin Massey, a junior accounting member. “We have not done near enough research to speak for the student voice at this point.”
Ragland said even if the poll was statistically sound, sometimes governing bodies have to go with their gut and instinct.
“Constituent input is key, but what you think is right matters,” Ragland said. “It’s your duty to vote your conscience, not just what your constituents believe.”
A few senators, like Jessica Barczi, were still undecided Wednesday night before the debate was launched. But come vote time, Barczi chose to support the resolution.
“I was really on the fence about this,” Barczi said, a senior biological science major. “Escalation is not the right away to go about this.”
Proponents of the resolution said the four-year conflict has killed innocent civilians and was fed to Americans as a lie.
Voting yes in the resolution had nothing to do with his political beliefs, but his compassion for humanity, said August Ritter, a natural resource recreation and tourism major.
Schrader said his passion to this resolution is from pure personal experience on the horrors of war.
“I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it,” Schrader said. “Civilians are dying.”