The green team a year later

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May 032010
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

During the student government presidential debates last spring Dan Gearhart passed Tim Hole a joking note that read “you = my crutch.”

A year later, about to leave office, they share that same lighthearted camaraderie.

As the Associated Students of CSU president and vice president the duo shook hands with state lawmakers and fought for more student representation, worked toward environmental sustainability and found ways to help student wallets –– all while pursuing a degree.

“The thing I’m most proud of are the bonds we’ve built,” Hole said.

Last April during their campaign, Gearhart and Hole, or “The Green Team,” ran with three main goals: “Saving the Environment,” “Saving your Money” and “Saving our University.”

In the last year, the duo says they’ve come close to finishing off that list.

In an effort to complete their platform goal of “Saving the Environment,” Hole and Gearhart worked with the city to boost off-campus recycling opportunities for students, pushed for paperless billing that will save the university about $100,000 and created the Office of Sustainability.

“I like to think of (the Office of Sustainability) as an EPA. They run the environmental show over there,” Gearhart said, adding that even though it’s a separate entity, ASCSU keeps a strong partnership with the office.

The team also worked with Parking Service’s budget to build more bike racks on campus instead of Gearhart and Hole’s original plan to increase carpool parking because CSU is becoming a “more pedestrian campus.”

Their next feat was “Saving your Money,” which Hole said was done only by raising the ASCSU student fee to pay for programs approved by his predecessors and “running a tight ship” by shifting costs within the organization to avoid absorbing extra student dollars.

During their tenure, Hole and Gearhart pushed to create the Textbook Exchange, like a CSU Craigslist, where students can list unwanted books online and trade within the campus community.

The third ticket item, “Saving our University,” was accomplished by pushing a bill that would allow a student vote on the CSU System Board of Governors through state House and to the state Senate where it was postponed indefinitely, the furthest a measure like this has ever traveled.

Hole attributes the success to Gearhart and ASCSU Director of Legislative Affairs Matt Worthington getting up at 5 a.m. to spend the day pushing for approval at the Capitol, he said.

Gearhart and Hole also worked with campus committees to help fill vacant student seats, which Gearhart said wasn’t fully accomplished but said he hopes their successors will work to finish.

Helping to create an online voting system where students could weigh in on programs hosted by the Association for Student Activity Programming was another accomplishment, Gearhart said.

One item Gearhart said his administration “epically failed” on was not creating a Middle-Eastern Student Services because it was a lot of hands trying to work toward a difficult task.

But, Hole said, the talks with existing advocacy groups resulted in more co-programming through ASCSU’s Department of Diversity and Outreach.

Internally, the organization dealt with turbulent times for its safe ride program RamRide, and Hole said during the summer before they took office, he and Gearhart either had to cut RamRide or revamp it.

Hole, Gearhart and cabinet members ran RamRide for the first few weekends. The credit for making it work in the long-term, however, goes to Director Eric Berlinberg, Hole said.

The weekend of the Rocky Mountain Showdown, Gearhart said, CSU’s administration wanted to work RamRide, a request Gearhart said was genuine but had to be turned down because he said students might not want to come face-to-face with administrators after a long night of partying.

That request, he said, shows the bond between student government and the university’s top leaders and demonstrates how much the administration cares about its students.

Looking back at the year

Gearhart spent his summer in Marine Corp Officer Candidate School and said his best memory of being ASCSU president is when he was on his way back to Fort Collins.

“All I wanted to do was sleep, but I knew in five hours I’d have to hit the job,” he said, adding that those hours were a whirlwind of excitement.

From then, Gearhart would have to learn to have conversations with his cabinet rather than giving orders like he was expected to in OCS and remembers one meeting where his cabinet gave him the “metaphorical middle finger” for giving orders instead of helping build a consensus.

For Hole, driving to Denver with red protest signs and marching to the capital with 1,000 Colorado students during the Higher Education rally are sacred moments.

“I’ll be excited to tell my children 30 years down the road that their dad was part of a protest for accessible higher education,” he said.

Looking back, Hole said, he can see himself shaking behind the curtains of the Lory Student Center Theater before talking to a group of incoming freshman and proceeding to forget his speech and now can’t see why he was so nervous.

Sitting in the chairs of ASCSU president and vice president comes with many perks such as free parking and unlimited meals from the University Club restaurant.

“We park wherever the hell we want,” Gearhart said, jokingly. “We could park on top of Clark and nobody would do anything.”

In a more serious light, however, the biggest plus of the position is meeting students –– sitting in a bar and having someone approach him and say, “Hey aren’t you the president?” –– or the office where he can “throw all his crap.”

With a wide smile, Hole agreed but said all of that will never amount to the memories he’ll take with him when he leaves office.

“I’m never going to remember the parking pass two years from now. I’m going to remember chairing Senate and Dan busting into my office all pissed off,” he said.

When Hole leaves ASCSU he will return to being a student looking for a job and eventually seeking law school. Gearhart will spend six weeks as OCS with the hopes of being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, go to boot camp and be assigned to a specialty.

Regardless of where the two end up, they will part ways with ASCSU with a list of personal accomplishments and a stronger bond than when they signed up for the job.

“In the past you’ve seen presidents and vice presidents ready to stab each other, but Dan comes to my house and drinks beers on Thursday night,” Hole said.

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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