With three fewer senate seats available for the coming year, Associated Students of CSU senators seeking reelection may have tougher competition ahead. But that hasn't stopped ASCSU from urging students outside the organization to compete for these positions.
In fact, as far as Director of Public Relations Jill Lysengen is concerned, the tougher the competition, the better: She is hoping it will ensure that the election winners are dedicated and determined to help CSU.
"If people want to make a difference and see things change, they should get into a position where they can make that change," Lysengen said.
Incumbent senators who wish to keep their position are required to run for reelection along with newcomers. Next year's senate has 31 seats available, compared to 34 this year. Not all of the 34 seats were filled this year, said ASCSU Vice President Ben Goldstein.
Director of Legislative Affairs Courtney Stephens, who has lobbied for CSU students at City Council on such issues as rental licensing and the three-unrelated ordinance, stressed the importance of an adequate and passionate student government and said the job is also rewarding.
"It's insanely important," she said. "People don't realize how enjoyable it is to help the students. It's very difficult and it's very rewarding."
Full-time students with a grade point average of 2.0 or above are eligible for the ASCSU election and must fill out an application and submit it to Elections Manager Brian Hardouin in the ASCSU office before 5 p.m. Friday. Candidates are then required to attend one of three orientation meetings in the ASCSU Senate Chambers, scheduled for 4 p.m. today and 12:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
The senate seats are divided among the nine undergraduate colleges and the graduate school, with representation assigned according to number of students per college. The College of Liberal Arts, with six senator positions, has the largest representation. Applied Human Sciences and Natural Sciences follow liberal arts with four seats each. The remaining colleges have two or three seats each.
Elected senators are required to attend senate meetings every Wednesday night and must also sit on internal senate committee and one external committee, such as the Student Fee Review Board. Each senator is required to have three office hours each week – designated times when they are in the ASCSU office, available to speak with students from their college.
The Elections Committee, headed by Hardouin, oversees the campaigning process to ensure that candidates do not violate ASCSU's Elections Code. The code mandates issues such as campaign finance, acceptable campaign tactics and penalties for code violations.
"They're to make sure that everyone's playing on a fair playing field," Lysengen said. "Some of the things you can't do, like, going to a polling place – like the library or a (computer) lab – with election paraphernalia."
The Elections Code faces changes from the senate nearly every year, but campaign finance has changed significantly in the past year. President/vice president spending limits, which were previously set at $3,000, were changed by a senate vote in February, and a loophole created by donation options was eliminated.
Each candidate is required to record the amount of money he or she spends on campaigning, including the cost of signs, promotional T-shirts and equipment such as computers and printers. The Elections Committee reviews candidate spending, and anyone who exceed the limits – $2,000 for president/vice president and $200 for senators – is automatically disbarred from the election. Candidates also receive fines, which are assessed against their total spending limit if they violate other campaign rules.
Prior to recent changes, any donations a candidate received were partially exempt from spending limits said Cord Brundage, a former Elections Committee member. While candidates were required to record all money they spend on their own campaign, only a quarter of all donated funds were assessed against their spending limits. In theory, he said, with a spending limit of $3,000, a candidate could spend $12,000 of donations and still not be eliminated from the election.
"What it used to be was, if you had something donated … you only had to put down a quarter of that amount," Brundage said. "This is going to be hugely different. Whatever the fair market value is, (it's recorded.)"
Other limitations include locations that candidates can campaign – the Lory Student Center Plaza and parking lots, as well as certain buildings, with permission from the building manager. Off-limits areas include ASCSU's office or places that prohibit students younger than 21 years old. Campaigning is scheduled to begin March 21, with voting via RAMweb April 4 through 6.
Students with further questions or concerns should contact Hardouin at RamRide@ASCSU.Colostate.edu or 491-5931.