For some in the Associated Students of CSU, a sense of calm has settled over their lives. That is not the case for President and Vice President-elect Cooper Anderson and Jennifer Babos.
After one of the most controversial student government elections in anyoneâ€™s memory, the pair woke Thursday having to balance ASCSUâ€™s $1.7 million budget in one of the worst economic recessions since the Great Depression and pick up the pieces of an organization divided by more than two weeks of mudslinging.
Despite such challenges, Anderson and Babos say they are ready to take over as CSUâ€™s top student representatives.
â€œWe have the opportunity to directly change studentsâ€™ lives and change them for the better,â€ said Anderson, a third generation CSU student studying business and agricultural sciences.
Picking up the pieces and moving forward
In the beginning, the campaign process was quiet â€“â€“ the same as any other year. Three competing teams gathered a pool of supporters from within ASCSU and the greater CSU community and erected signs across campus. They stood on the Lory Student Plaza and talked to students about the issues.
It soon devolved into a firestorm of complaints between Cooper and Babos and competing candidates David Ambrose and April Ragland.
Earlier this week, ASCSUâ€™s Elections Committee expelled Ambrose and Ragland from the race for exceeding their campaign budget. It was determined the pair didnâ€™t pay full price for postage on campaign literature sent to residence halls.
In order to move forward with their campaign initiatives, Cooper and Babos said their organization must be strong and united.
â€œWeâ€™re making sure all of the fences that were broken are mended,â€ Babos said, â€œand encouraging people to work together for studentsâ€™ best interests.â€
Both said that itâ€™s important that they incorporate some of the initiatives competitors Jack Becker and Darrie Burrage and Ambrose and Ragland proposed as part of their campaigns.
The pair agreed that because all three parties were dedicated to improving CSU, there is not reason why they canâ€™t collaborate.
Until they can move forward with their goals, however, the budget is at the forefront of their minds.
While fiscal changes are somewhat ambiguous and will take form in the next four days, Anderson and Babos have identified unused dollars within ASCSU departments and re-directed some of those into Legislative Affairs. This money will help the department reach out to students, faculty, administrators and legislators to develop solutions for Coloradoâ€™s higher education crisis.
While nothing is set in stone and the future director of Legislative Affairs will have ultimate say, the duo hopes see a bolstered version of this yearâ€™s rally for higher education at the state Capitol. Increasing education for students about issues affecting higher education funding is also part of the line-up.
The key to approaching any issue is communicating with affected parties, both said.
Especially in the case of saving higher education, town-hall style meetings involving studentsâ€™ opinions and ideas will act as a launching pad for student leaders to cause change.
â€œItâ€™s about looking at (studentsâ€™) ideas and brining them into the fold,â€ Anderson said, his voice hoarse after dozens of hours talking with students on the Plaza and meetings with organizations across campus.
As a liberal arts major with an ethnic studies minor and certificate in womenâ€™s studies, Babos has a passion for social justice and putting an end to sexual violence.
As she talked about improving sexual assault education for students on campus, she spoke faster and with a zest that stemmed from a desire to commit her lifeâ€™s work to the cause.
She plans to hire two coordinators within ASCSU who would coordinate improvement of resources offered to victims of sexual violence, host awareness events for the campus and work with Orientation and Transition Programs to lengthen the amount of time freshmen spend learning about sexual assault on campus.
â€œSexual violence is an issue society sweeps under the rug,â€ Babos said, shaking her head in disapproval.
As part of their goal to improve school spirit, the duo plans to light the historic Aggie â€œAâ€.
They will work with the Engineering College to involve students in the process and draft a comprehensive proposal with schematics, materials and estimated costsÂ before going to the City Council for approval. The project will be funded entirely by alumni donations.
Acknowledging that evolving the idea from paper to fruition will take some convincing, Anderson said, â€œIt could be one of those things that could put CSU and the city on the map.â€
Knowing the road ahead is rough and rocky with challenges, Anderson and Babos are driven to improve the student experience on a campus they consider home.
â€œI came to CSU mainly because when I stepped on this campus, it felt right,â€ Babos said, her stare distant and focused on the memory that marked the start of her life here.
_News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. _