Only small number of UCSU officials slated to run for re-election
Every semester the University of Colorado Student Union, CU’s student government, holds elections to determine who CU’s next student leaders will be. Controlling over $30 million dollars in student fees, UCSU is the most powerful student union in the nation. They fund and control 12 student cost centers, the largest of which are the UMC, Wardenburg and the Rec Center, and they form and debate policy that guides the campus and its students.
Despite the influence the elected members possess, it is rare for more than 20 percent of CU’s large student population, numbering near 30,000, to vote in the spring election. Fewer than 10 percent of students have historically participated in the fall elections. Two years ago, the number of students voting dipped below 1,000.
The Campus Press will break down the positions, the process and the people in an 11-part series that will run through April 20, the last day of voting. Stay with The Campus Press during this time for developments and results regarding the 2007 UCSU elections.
This year’s UCSU election is lacking a significant facet of many major elections.
During the upcoming UCSU elections, only two current elected members of CU’s student government will be running for re-election. The Legislative Council Grammarian and Business School Senator, Taylor Portman, as well as the Arts and Sciences Student Government Executive and the Arts and Sciences Senator on Legislative Council, Obinna “Obi” Onyeali, will be asking for votes once again. Of these two, only Onyeali will be running for the same position.
UCSU Elections 2007: CP’s 11-day Series
Part 1 | Rules of the race – The ins and outs of CU’s election code
Part 2 | Taking office – The elected officials and what they do
Part 3 | Repeat runners – What they’ve accomplished, why they’re back
Part 4 | An apathetic audience – What UCSU is doing to make you care
Part 5 | Showing support – A look at CU’s student groups and the candidates they endorse
Part 6 | The candidates – An in-depth look at the election hopefuls
Part 7 | The voters – Students who vote, and why they care
Part 8 | Voting trends – A look at the winning tickets of the past, and the stronghold of the campaigners
Part 9 | $30 million strong – An analysis of UCSU and how it differs from other student governments in the region
Part 10 | Autonomy – A look at the 1985 agreement that gave UCSU its power today
Part 11 | The campaign trail – Candidate experiences from the 2007 campaigning process
According to UCSU Election Commissioner Adam Eckman, members of legislative council are not required to run again, but Onyeali is surprised by this turn of events.
“I’m not sure why,” Onyeali said. “I know a lot of students are graduating; if my co-senator were here she would have run with me again, but she’s graduating. I honestly don’t know why a lot of people aren’t running again. It takes time, and it can be a headache, but I like doing it.”
Onyeali has accomplished a lot during his tenure as both an ASSG executive and legislative council senator. Along with his co-senator, Jennifer Gassner, he implemented a new, more “cohesive” filing system to replace an outdated and disastrous system of previous years.
He improved communication with the Arts and Sciences Dean, Todd Gleeson, and increased productive interactivity between ASSG and the Dean’s office.
“This year we have helped fund more student groups,” Onyeali said. “More student groups are able to host events or travel. That’s one of the biggest things we’ve been able to do. That’s the purpose of ASSG, to help more students.”
Though Onyeali is proud of the progress he has made in ASSG. He continues to look to the future and acknowledges that if elected there is still work to do.
“There are still a lot of student groups who struggle,” Onyeali said. “They have potential to do great things but they just don’t have the funding or the opportunity to do it. I think it’s a matter of letting people know that we are here and working on revamping our by-laws and constitution.”
Portman is currently the Business School senator on Legislative Council. From this position he will not be running for re-election, as Onyeali is, but for election to one of the three Tri-executive positions on the “Pursuit of Value” ticket.
Current UCSU Tri-Executive Andrew Aitchison and representatives for all candidates under the “Pursuit of Value” platform remarked on Portman’s conduct over the last year and his reasons for running for the Tri-executive position.
“Taylor is running for the Tri-executive position with two other students, Jamie Smolski and Benjamin Finn,” Aitchison said. “He is doing so in order to more effectively communicate his goals and values to the greater community and also to better represent the goals of his constituency, the CU student body. Taylor is committed to developing and maintaining good working relationships with all of his co-student leaders with the goal of allowing our student government to effectively represent student opinions in mind.”
Portman will be the only member of any Tri-executive ticket with any legislative council experience. Other “Unity” platform Tri-executive candidates are not worried. Both Charles Gilford and Hadley Brown have experience as directors on the current Tri-executive staff.
“Simply, this ticket is the more experienced given that two of the individuals running for Tri-exec have served on executive staff that works exclusively and very closely with the Tri-executive branch,” Gilford said. “We have served through representation through voicing our different issues within Legislative Council and understand the processes thereof. We have been able to do so has far as our executive staff goes but also making sure that despite the fact that we are not explicitly involved within Legislative Council, that our voices are heard, and making sure that the student voice is heard.”
Despite the lack of incumbent candidacy, Aitchison is hopeful for the success of the “next generation of student leaders.”
Wednesday: After voter turnouts of less than 4 percent of the student body, UCSU launches efforts to make students care.