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In the last year, CU Boulder students have taken a sharp turn in electing student government positions, trending toward individuals from campus groups and organizations that have never previously been in office.
Students elected in October — Mitchell Fenton, Colin Wichman, Andrew Hemphill, Divya Reddy and Alex Mitoma — affirmed a trend away from Greek affiliates and toward previously underrepresented student groups.
Among the group of legislators, Fenton and Mitoma are on the CU Club Sports Executive Board, a major student voice among groups that use the Recreation Center. Hemphill and Mitoma are active members in the Engineering School. Wichman is involved in Shot@Life CU Boulder, the campus chapter of the international organization that raises awareness for and provides vaccines. Reddy is a member of a number of clubs on campus, including the Diverse Scholars Program.
On the heels of the fall 2012 election, during which nearly every representative elected was a Greek affiliate, this trend began with the tri-executive election in April. Ellie Roberts, Chris Schaefbauer and Marco Dorado were victorious over their opponents on the Voice ticket — a group whose ideals formerly constituted the Inspire ticket, known as the “Greek ticket.” The turnaround was solidified in summer and fall.
When 70 percent of voting students in 2011 supported increased student fees to help fund a $3 million Rec Center renovation, Fenton said Rec Center officials were inspired to encourage students affiliated with the facility to run for student government.
“It showed the administration how important the Recreation Center was to the student population,” Fenton said.
Student group funding hinges on the budgetary decisions of CUSG legislators, who last year allocated $17.7 million in annual student fees. Groups who want to make themselves known to CUSG for funding face a competitive atmosphere, and the struggle is magnified for smaller groups. CU Environmental Design is one program fighting for a voice.
Since breaking off from CU Denver and being barred by state law from becoming its own college, CU’s Environmental Design program has been seeking a home on the Boulder campus for two years. Jacqui Painter, president of the Environmental Design Student Government since last year, and the rest of the program’s student representatives have used their positions to plug the group’s needs with campus administration.
CUSG was mired in controversy last year amid decisions on smoking bans, gun control and environmental policies. Individuals from student groups who haven’t recently had representation on CUSG are popular with voters right now, regardless of candidate experience or American political affiliations.
Although this has been happening for the past two years now, the increasing awareness of student groups and the fact that a multitude of perspectives are raised in Legislative Council has made for an interesting semester and foreshadows future administrations.
The mounting trend toward diversity among elected officials within CUSG has yet to play out in student group funding, which will be determined in spring.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ryan Hite at Ryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.