Student government officials asked the Fort Collins City Council Tuesday night for a non-voting, student position on the board.
â€œWe know that this is going to be a real challenge. Any time youâ€™re trying to change existing policy itâ€™s tough to do,â€ said Chase Eckerdt, director of community affairs for the Associated Students of CSU.
Eckerdt spoke briefly during the city council meeting, stressing the importance of an improved dialogue between city officials and CSU students, who make up a large part of the Fort Collins population.
â€œIn this community, about 39 percent of Fort Collins residents are between ages 18 and 34 and about 25,000 of those are CSU students,â€ Eckerdt said. â€œâ€œItâ€™s important that our voice is formally at the table.â€
The ultimate goal of the new proposal is to prevent disputes between students and the Fort Collins community through additional communication and collaboration.
â€œThis is not a response to a problem. Itâ€™s a proactive solution for future discussions,â€ Eckerdt said.
The proposed student position has seen success at many universities.
In 2005, University of Iowa students were given the chance to represent themselves before Iowa Cityâ€™s City Council. Two full-time university students were given a voice at council meetings and were able to address issues including zoning changes and bus routes.
In 2009, a similar position was added to the city council in College Park, Md. to represent University of Maryland students. This allowed students to keep the city government up to date with university issues and avoid any possible miscommunication.
The accomplishments in Iowa and Maryland represent what ASCSU hopes for in its potential collaborations with the city of Fort Collins government.
â€œWe really wanted to make sure that anything that comes of this is done in a collaborative way,â€ said Cooper Anderson, ASCSU president.
The proposal was received well by some members of the seven-person council but dismissed entirely by others.
Councilman Wade Troxell, D-4, spoke in support of ASCSUâ€™s efforts, complimenting Eckerdt on â€œcoming forward in a very constructive fashion.â€
Lisa Poppaw, D-2, agreed that students made an admirable effort, but said the journey would not have her support because she and other councilmembers are there to represent students, and â€œthere are a lot of groups in this community that would love to have a seat at this table.â€
But councilman Kelly Ohlson, D-5, expressed his disapproval of adding a student position to the dynamic.
â€œPeople need to earn their seat at this table,â€ Ohlson said. â€œThatâ€™s to be earned through the democratic process.â€
Aislinn Kottwitz, D-4, was open to further discussion. No additional consideration was assigned to the issue during ASCSUâ€™s proposal and discussion.
â€œItâ€™s a tough issue to sell, but I think weâ€™ve planted a good seed,â€ Eckerdt said. â€œAt the minimum, weâ€™ve got our foot in the door.â€
Staff writer Erin Udell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.