Mar 042008
Authors: Phil Elder

Editor’s note: Phil Elder is a senator for the Associated Students of CSU. Any views expressed in this column are solely the ideas of the author and not necessarily those of the Collegian or of ASCSU.

If you ask an Associated Students of CSU senator what the biggest problem with the organization is, they would agree that it is a lack of transparency.

Students, as a whole, generally have no idea what is going on within senate chambers, and the senate has taken several steps in an effort to solve this problem, including appointing a senate media liaison to articulate for the Collegian the actions of the senate.

However, I am of the opinion that their measures, thus far, have been unsuccessful.

Thus, it is the purpose of this column to analyze ASCSU as a governmental entity and subsequently to clarify what it does, and has done, for the students which it is charged to represent.

In reflection of the pre-pubescent reaction of several senators to last week’s article, I would like, before I begin, to clarify that this is not a personal attack on any single member of ASCSU, at any level, but rather a personal testimony against an organization that I see, in its current state of being, as a useless appendage to CSU’s decision-making body.

This academic year has thus far seen 41 bills pass through the chambers of ASCSU, 25 of which were either amendments to senate laws or endorsements of random events and activities. To clarify what these terms mean, amendments are changes to laws that affect ASCSU and ASCSU alone, and endorsement means that senators argued for hours over whether the organization’s symbol should be put on a T-shirt or a promotional poster.

Four of these 41 amendments remain germane to student life at CSU. The first two were attempts to eliminate plus and minus from the grading system, which were killed instantly.

The third was an expenditure of roughly $36,000 for Black History Month activities. The fourth was the $34.78 million expansion to the recreation center discussed last week.

The remainder of the bills are either in commendation of other organizations for actually accomplishing tangible goals or complete wastes of time and paper.

An example of the former is the endorsement, and subsequent commemoration, of the Associated Students of Colorado for resolving to lower textbook prices. ASCSU, eager to stand back and watch the ASC take care of it, endorsed their movement so they could claim partial credit therefore.

There are several examples of the latter. An amendment to rename October “Rocktober,” a resolution to help some Lincoln Middle School students with book reports and a useless effort to increase voter turnout by adding T-shirt designs to the ballot are just proverbial poster children for the mountain of senatorial shortcomings represented in random bills.

The student body does owe some gratitude to its senate. Without ASCSU, we wouldn’t have the Ramskeller or RamRide. When it comes to efficiently getting students drunk, ASCSU is clutch.

However, one can understand why Penley treats the organization as a joke. Either they have no binding power, financial or otherwise, or they choose to ignore what power they may possess, preferring instead to sit on their world-shaking hands, meddling with their internal laws or officially endorsing an action taken by an organization with some initiative.

The students of CSU need their voice to be heard and reacted to, not to be drafted into a meaningless bill and left to die in the archives of the ASCSU Web site.

Phil Elder is a senior political science major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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