After a scattered speech about campaign strategy given to Andrew Boucher’s organizers in the basement of the Wild Boar coffee shop last week, Trevor Trout leaned over to the Collegian reporter sitting in the chair next to him and whispered, “I wasn’t expecting to get called on.”
Trout, a long-time advocate for student rights, had just been asked to give a down-and-dirty how-to-pander lesson for city council hopeful Boucher’s followers.
Boucher, a conservative Republican candidate for the student-filled District 5 council seat, hand-picked Trout and a handful of other students for advice on how to run his campaign.
And if anyone knows how to campaign and get students involved, it’s Trout, who has a lengthy history of close community relations and student advocacy.
Trout, a senior business administration major, has been an integral figure for student advocacy, most notably joining a handful of student leaders in building relationships with state officials last year at a time when Colorado was at the bottom of the barrel in public funding for higher education.
Bringing a voice to the state
A year ago, Trout, holding a yellow legal pad, paced back and forth muttering his notes to himself in the lobby outside the Colorado Legislative Council Building in Denver.
He was about to become one the first four student leaders to implore action from the Joint Budget Committee, a group of state legislators who approve Colorado’s budget, regarding CSU’s skyrocketing tuition problem.
Katie Gleeson, then-president of the Associated Students of CSU; Dan Palmer, then-director of Academics for ASCSU; August Ritter, then-director of Legislative Affairs for ASCSU; and Trout pled with the committee to impose a 10 percent tuition cap on CSU after the price tag had increased 16 percent the previous year.
After a year of squabbles between former CSU President Larry Penley — who introduced a two-months late student fee request from the Athletics department and a last-minute budget clause that would have raised tuition by $1,200 a student — the JBC mandated that CSU could only raise tuition by 9.5 percent.
“They view our input as something important only after the decision has been made,”Trout said about CSU administration last March of the fight for transparency in the administration.
So ASCSU went directly to state officials for representation, increasing their presence at the Capitol, skipping class to amplify their voice.
Their efforts brought a student-authored bill that forces textbook publishers to disclose prices and new edition information to teachers when they place orders in an effort to slow price increases.
Trout said he is currently pleased with the improvements between administration and student relationships.
And now, Trout has Boucher looking to him for campaigning advice.
“I plan to listen to them,” Boucher said last week.
New company creates coalition
Politics isn’t Trout’s main interest.
As part of a group project for his New Venture Creation class last semester, he created a tool company, Frontline, that brings new technology to the professional industries.
Aiming to foster relationships with other student-run business initiatives on campus, it utilizes a five-member student leadership team, a large student-advertising agency and a student mechanical engineering team to keep it running.
The company’s first project is inspired by the three seasons Trout spent fighting wildfires in California, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and Colorado, where he saw a necessity to create new tools for professionals who don’t have multi-purpose tools specified to their needs.
“You’ll see a lot of multi-tools that maintain bicycles on a commercial level,” Trout said. “But there’s really nothing being done for professionals.”
Operating from the Rockwell Building, the venture has drawn interest from a local plastic company, Wolverton Mechanical Design, that plans to produce a prototype of Frontline’s first product, an all-around chainsaw maintenance tool.
And, Trout said, there are plenty of investors from the firefighting industry.
“Working for Frontline provides us with an opportunity to have our work published and create work for our portfolios, which is our most important tool for getting a job,” said Emily Gosping, co-creator of the student-run advertising agency, Ad Infinitum, which creates graphics for Trout’s company.
For now, Frontline is developing the chainsaw tool, but plans to implement projects for other professions, said Traver Heckman, another senior business administration major who partners with Trout on the business.
“We currently have some interested investors including family friends . as well as some of Trevor’s contacts,” Heckman said. “We should have the business ready to go in four to five months.”
“We’ve saved so much money by using students,” Trout said. “To be a student and start a business is incredible because there are so many resources and opportunities for students to use.”
ASCSU beat reporter Shelley Woll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.