Weston Ballard, a sophomore majoring in business and international affairs, was elected last week to CU’s student government as a Representative-at-large on the Unite ticket.
What do you want to make of your new position in CUSG?
My goal is first and foremost to see what students are bothered by, and what students want on campus. I want to make a more inclusive campus. I also want to look at tuition caps, and at allocating resources better so that the academic experience isn’t so expensive.
How do student fees figure into this?
Student fees are basically acting as the taxes of our administrative system at CU. When you’re increasing your tuition by 5 percent annually, that’s different than just increasing student fees by $20 every year. They’re an accessible way for CUSG to implement things, and with them, we can listen to student interests and create policy or a plan to do something with respect to student interests.
Are there any other issues that already have your eye?
There’s a member on the UMC board who doesn’t think the UMC is actually represented as a memorial center as well as it should be. It is the state allocated memorial center for veterans, and I don’t think very many students realize that at all.
Veterans hit home with me; my whole family was in the military, even though I am not involved with it. But if a campus has a memorial center it should really have something more to do with veterans, more “umph” to it to make it more of what it was supposed to be when it was first built.
What does a more “inclusive” campus look like to you?
I think we are a great campus. We are highly intelligent and extremely passionate. But students aren’t accessing the mediums to embrace those passions as well as they can. I’m trying to have a more personalized approach, instead of that blank canvas approach: “Have you voted, do you know what Unite is?” I want to approach more groups on campus, not just individuals on the sidewalk, because diplomacy and working with people has always been something I have prided myself on.
How do you want to emphasize inclusion in student government activities?
Students need to be engaged just as much as their student government in order for it to work. CUSG’s job is to take the interests of students and put it into practice as best they can, but if students feel apathetic because of past experiences, then no change will come about. I hope to be part of the new chain of representatives that will bridge that gap, and bring transparency to it.
You’re a sophomore, but this is your first semester at CU. What drew you to CUSG so quickly?
What drew me to CUSG was the autonomy and the influence that it had. My issue with student government has always been, “Well, great, I’m a representative but I don’t really do anything.” Students have the ability to put things in motion, and that really inspired me to join the ticket.
Do you feel like an outsider here?
I’m used to being the new fish, always the fresh face. My parents are military so I’m used to moving around.
What kind of experience are you bringing into your new position?
The thing about student government and running things like this is you have to know three things: knowing how to work with people, knowing your limits and knowing how to tie them to people who know how to do more than you.
What made you run on the Unite ticket?
We ran unopposed. Unite was able to advocate for our own party initiatives instead of making us look better than the other guys. But really I just wanted people to be more involved, and as a student I was really unclear about what student government was doing, and I thought why don’t I just run and join the board.
Is there anything you think needs changing in the CUSG?
You can’t just walk into the White House and ask Obama what’s going on, but here we actually have that opportunity with our representatives. It’s a two-way street. CUSG needs to be more open in order to give students a better outlet to speak. Right now, I think getting in the office and seeing what it’s like is more important than having a fixed plan.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Gabriel Larsen-Santos at Gabriel.firstname.lastname@example.org