Officer of Governmental Affairs Josh Williams. (Photo: Christina Vessa)

Officer of Governmental Affairs Josh Williams. (Photo: Christina Vessa)

The Colorado State University Political Science Department drove Josh Williams’ decision to choose CSU over Northern Arizona University in 2014. CSU was a new school with new people, but that didn’t stop Josh from being politically active and involving himself in the student government.

Freshman year, he was accepted into the Key Service and Global Sustainability Cluster, a year-long program. It was new page in Josh’s life, but he was ready for it. He ended up running for the Vice President of Braiden Hall through Hall Council; even though he lost the campaign, his Residence Director, Jackie, mentioned an open senator seat in the Resident Hall Association.

“I don’t know what that is, but I’ll take it,” Josh said.

Read more here.

Many students have probably heard about the Executive and Legislative branches of the Associated Students of Colorado State University. You know, the ones who pass legislation in the senate and create events and programming, among other things. However, you may not be as familiar with the students who run the ASCSU Supreme Court, the Judicial Branch.

The Supreme Court consists of seven justices with Chief Justice Jacob Stein at the head of it all – There is one Deputy Chief Justice and five Associate Justices that fill the branch. To gain a better understanding of what someone like Stein does on a daily basis, I’ll take a deeper look into his involvement around campus through the role of chief justice. Read more here.

(Courtesy of Collegian Photo Archive)

(Courtesy of Collegian Photo Archive)

Have you ever wondered what it is like to plan an event for more than 2,000 people? If so, take a look into the last few months of Bobbie Nathan’s life. She is the ASCSU director of traditions and programs, which puts her in charge of making this year’s 10th-annual Grill the Buffs happen.

Nathan’s life has consisted of booking catering reservations, organizing dozens of volunteers and planning behind-the-scenes surprises for the festivities on Thursday. She made it her goal to serve up buffalo patties to thousands of students before Friday’s rivalry game – for free.

The biggest task was figuring out if Coach Bobo and the football team could make the event. Grill the Buffs needed to be as close to the Rocky Mountain Showdown as possible, and it adds a whole new element to the event when the coach and team are in-person, getting students excited for the game. Click here for more.

In the age of Vine and YouTube, encounters with police are being documented on video at an alarming rate.

In Fort Collins, there are 25,787 students enrolled at Colorado State University as of the spring 2016 semester. This means there is a high potential for student-involved encounters with police in Old Town, Campus West and at CSU.

Whether it be a simple traffic stop-turned bad, tear gas at a riot or a full-blown police fight, modern technology allows for more accuracy and evidence during civilian encounters with police.

Beginning in 2012, the Fort Collins Police implemented 20 body-worn cameras for use within the force. Since then, 40 more cameras have been added, totaling 60 body-worn cameras by 2015. There were 15,300 digital videos housed by the Property and Evidence Team of the Fort Collins Police Services by the end of 2015. However, these numbers are not enough to prove that all recent police encounters with students have been accurately and efficiently recorded.

Every officer, both of the CSU Police Department and the Fort Collins Police Department, should be required to wear a body camera during to record all interactions on and near the CSU campus.

A police officer’s body-worn camera. (Photo courtesy of Denver Police on YouTube.)

As both the campus enrollment and the Fort Collins populations are increasing at a steady rate, it is imperative that the police use modern technologies to provide accurate evidence for every student encounter. In 2016, technology is providing the opportunity to record accurate evidence for police-student encounters:

  1. The Fort Collins Police Services is planning to increase the number of body-worn cameras in 2016, but the exact number of expected cameras is unknown.
  2. It is almost a given that students will carry their phones on them at all times. This means they should use video to record their encounters with police, whether it be at a Campus West party or in Old Town.

Although the videos recorded on body-worn cameras need to be sorted and stored, the benefits of organizing this footage far outweighs the costs of not having a video to review in court.

This article first appeared on Medium.

Note: This article is a collaboration between the Fort Collins Coloradoan and the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

Vaniesha Gregory protesting the ASCSU student government after an initial "no vote" of the Diversity Bill. (Photo: Christina Vessa.)

Vaniesha Gregory protesting the ASCSU student government after an initial “no vote” of the Diversity Bill. (Photo: Christina Vessa.)

Vaniesha Gregory feels uncomfortable walking the halls of her home at Colorado State University.

Gregory,18, said other students in Summit Hall have peppered her with racially insensitive jabs since she transferred to the university earlier this school year. They’ve asked Gregory, who is black, if they could touch her hair, if she could teach them how to twerk, why she was so dark and if she knew her dad.

As tensions escalated across campus with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, they asked her to joke that “white is right.”

She’s one of several minority students pushing for more inclusiveness at the Fort Collins university, most recently campaigning and protesting for a hard-won diversity bill that made history by adding voting seats for minority offices to CSU’s student government.

The bill was passed March 9 by one vote after weeks of discussion, which included protests and debate on social media about the inclusion and representation of minority groups on campus.

COLUMN: A partnership worth pursuing

Not all students feel the tension advocates for the bill say exists.

Alex Teahen, 20, said CSU has “one of the most open and accepting student cultures I’ve ever encountered,” even though demographics demonstrate the campus is not significantly racially diverse.

Teahen, who is white, said the university’s demographics are a reflection of the Fort Collins area’s lack of diversity, not of the university’s culture.

CSU’s student population is 71 percent white. Fort Collins’ population is about 78 percent white, according to a five-year estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.

“If there was a real issue here, I believe the student population would better recognize it,” Teahen said. “I also believe if this was truly a student affairs issue, there would be a lot more of an uproar.”

For Gregory and several other minority students interviewed by the Collegian, the uproar is deafening. Read more here.

782086_origBeing a young woman on a university campus is empowering. From the buzzing technologies and classrooms to the professional opportunities, I couldn’t think of a place I would rather be during this time in my life. As someone who oftentimes stretches myself too thin, it can be overwhelming to balance the stress of constant meetings, deadlines, responsibilities, and networking opportunities, with attending class and doing homework in between.

In order to maintain a calm and collected mindset, I turn my clothing into something I can be proud of. From my shoes to my smile, I maintain confidence by presenting myself in a professional manner. For me, stylish attire and respectable accessories keep my presence upbeat throughout the day.

What constitutes a professional style?

I like to start with my body. Keeping groomed nails and fresh-cut hair are the first steps that I do to maintain a presentable appearance. A trim every few weeks, as well as a simple nail touch up are things that stick with your body, no matter the time of day or night. Waking up early is empowering. To me, there’s nothing better than opening my well-rested eyes at 7 a.m. and feeling ready to conquer the day. I walk into the restroom and freshen up by splashing cold water in my face—this automatically wakes me up and tightens up the skin in my face. I like to use a light face lotion offered by First Aid Beauty. It is important to maintain your facial skin because that will be with you for the entirety of your existence. Depending on my mood, I try to avoid heavy makeup. Usually, a simple mascara or lip color feels great.

Starting with my trousers, I try to wear a nice pair of pants that will be comfortable, as well as presentable. For someone like me who works in an office, it is necessary to keep a respectable appearance that my coworkers will honor. I love Ann Taylor’s simple gray ankle-length trousers. They pair well with any color of shirt or shoes, and they are comfortable enough to wear from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Blouses are trickier for me. I try to stay away from V-necks, so finding a comfortable shirt that is still business casual can be a challenge. Keeping the essentials in your closet gives you a lot to work with. A few long sleeve or ¾ sleeve shirts in white, black, gray, and navy work well with almost anything. Preferably, I stick with either button down shirts like The Oxford or cotton ¾ sleeves like the ones that extend past my lower back.

Shoes are one of the most important parts of a wardrobe because they carry the weight of your body throughout the entire of the day. I struggle finding comfortable shoes that are also appropriate for the office. There’s no way I would wear my Air Jordan’s into the office. I like to have the three essentials on hand in my closet: loafers, flats, and heeled boots. A pair of pointed nude d-Orsay style flats will always look good, but wearing them around for hours at a time can be painful, so I try to hold these to an “event only” lifestyle. Comfy loafers like Coach’s Arlene Moccasin are presentable for long days on your feet.

These are the basics of my wardrobe as I live in and out of the office. These pieces are not only comfortable, but give me an heir of confidence in the professional environment. Next time, I’ll be discussing the accessories every professional woman should own.

This article first appeared in Singular Magazine.

(This article was first published by Christina Vessa in the Rocky Mountain Collegian)

A recent demonstration held on the Colorado State University campus has sparked a conversation on social justice, including some expressions of dissatisfaction that the University administration supported the demonstration.

Students and Administration stand on the steps of the Administration Building in protest of the racial discrimination at Mizzou. (Photo credit: Ryan Arb.)

Students and Administration stand on the steps of the Administration Building in protest of the racial discrimination at Mizzou. (Photo credit: Ryan Arb.)

At the event Monday, CSU community members stood in solidarity to recognize the recent events happening at the University of Missouri. Students displayed the messages, “CSU stands with Mizzou,” and “Black Students Matter.”

The University posted a photo on Facebook of the event and stated, “Our CSU community rallied ‪#‎InSolidaritywithMizzou‬.”

When CSU showed support for the protest on social media, hundreds of alumni and Fort Collins residents responded, some expressing satisfaction and some frustration with the University’s involvement. Some alumni commented and said they would pull their donations.

The University has since stated that it stands by its actions.

“Our community becomes stronger when we listen and learn from one another’s experience,” CSU President Tony Frank wrote in a statement. “That some have chosen to denigrate these events on social media is disappointing, but it also illustrates why commitments to free speech, diversity and education are so important.”

Tony Frank’s full statement on support of Mizzou demonstration.

Reactions of CSU alumni and Fort Collins community

Another alumna, Christine M., said she did not receive the demonstration well because associating CSU with what happened at the University of Missouri is like “comparing apples to oranges.”

“Colorado State has a good track record in that we are not Mizzou,” she said. “I think listening to black students at Colorado State is important. … But, to associate us with what went on at Mizzou, nobody knows exactly what happened at Mizzou. … I am not hearing about that at all at CSU.”

During an interview with KCSU Tuesday, sophomore social work student Zell Moore said Monday’s demonstration seemed male-dominated. She also said there is no female representation in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We acknowledge the impact of our lack of representation of women of color and other examples of intersectionality,” said Ricky Herz, a junior social work major who organized the demonstration. “We take this as a lesson for potential future demonstrations, and unfortunately, that lesson was at the expense of some people.”

The Black Lives Matter movement being male-dominated highlights the need for there to be a more inclusive and intersectional way of approaching questions of oppression, said Cori Wong, Ph.D. She is the director of the President’s Women and Gender Initiative, as well as an instructor in the Ethnic Studies Department. Wong said she supports the students rallying in Monday’s demonstration.

A sign stating "Ethnic Studies supports Mizzou" hangs from the window of a room in Eddy Hall on the Colorado State University campus. (Photo Credit: Christina Vessa)

A sign stating “Ethnic Studies supports Mizzou” hangs from the window of a room in Eddy Hall on the Colorado State University campus. (Photo Credit: Christina Vessa)

Others said one-on-one dialogue is more effective than communicating messages through a group. Erik Bogdanowicz grew up in Fort Collins and he said he does not support the demonstration.

Bogdanowicz commented on the CSU Facebook photo, which resulted in a conversation that was furthered by a student reaching out and messaging him.

“The demonstration and others like it are doing nothing but dividing people,” Bogdanowicz said. “I don’t see anything coming out of this. I see it as just vice. It is not a demonstration that is trying to bring somebody together. It’s, ‘here’s what I want, here’s what I’m standing for, you deal with it.’”

Those who organized the demonstration presented a list of recommendations to University administration. The suggestions included implementing ethnic and women’s studies courses into the All University Core Curriculum, making a task force of diverse stakeholders to create a strategic plan and present potential changes, encouraging mental health programs to provide mentoring and counseling around race, maintaining and improving the graduation rates of athletes of color and changing the culture around language at CSU.

CSU administration stands by its support

In a statement made to the Collegian, Executive Director of Public Affairs and Communications Mike Hooker wrote that the University always considers how its actions will be received. He wrote that sometimes, decisions must be made about topics that not everybody will agree on.

“Our CSU community encompasses hundreds of thousands of people, and there will always be different viewpoints and perspectives — that’s the freedom of speech we celebrate,” Hooker wrote.

Diversity is one of the University’s core values that it always tries to believe in and act on, Hooker wrote.

“The University wanted to support our students and the issues they were trying to shed light on. Ultimately though, regardless of potential reactions, we have to stand for what we believe represents the mission of the university: in this case the balance between free speech and an environment conducive to the exercise of free speech.”

Regarding potential donations being retracted due to the University showing support for the demonstration Monday, Hooker wrote that this does not appear to be a major issue with long-standing donors.

“We have heard from a small number of donors raising concerns, and others expressing support; while every donation matters, the numbers involved do not represent a significant impact to Colorado State University’s on-going budget. The University often has to make to make decisions that may not be popular with every donor. When making decisions, we have to set all that aside and do what we believe is the right thing for the university.”

Creating Social Change

Darrie Burrage, associate director of learning programs in The Institute for Learning and Teaching, said events happening at other universities can often have tremendous effects on the CSU community.

Burrage raised the following questions: What is our culture at CSU around freedom of speech? What is our culture around social movements? Are students scared to participate?

Christine M. said racial inequality is present not only in the university setting, but in the workplace, the government and all around the world. She served on the Victim Assistance Team at CSU, was a member of the Sexual Assault and Victim Advocate Center and was appointed to the Task Force for the Status of Women, appointed by former CSU President Albert Yates. She said CSU offices and other resources should be used, such as the Office of the Ombuds and Employee Assistance Program, the Office of Equal Opportunity, deans of individual colleges and the University police.

A student who helped organize the demonstration, Kwon Yearby, said having Frank stand in solidarity with those Monday shows that CSU is far different from other institutions.

“We can lead the discussion on how to deal with racial relations and how to fix racial tensions,” Yearby said. “It is important to recognize it took bravery and boldness (for the administration to stand in solidarity) … there would have been support in dominant parts if they would have stayed inside, but they chose to come out and stand with us and it speaks volumes.”


Photo by Ryan Arb

Photo by Ryan Arb.

Creating a Conversation at Colorado State

The environment at CSU is an exciting one, Wong said.

“Its not just us at CSU, we are picking up on some of the national energy and momentum that has been developing,” said Wong, who participated in the demonstration Monday. “The conversations are opening up in a way that could be productive, but it could be scary (or uncomfortable for some) because it might actually bring to light certain realities (of everyday racism).”

(Ryan Arb)

A group of CSU community members stand on the steps of the Administration Building Monday. (Photo credit: Ryan Arb.)

Conversations that are not just centered around race are starting on campus, said Vance Payne, a sophomore engineering student who helped organize Monday’s demonstration. He said all identities are welcome to join the conversations about gender equality, hyper masculinity, racial tensions and countless other social justice issues.

Although negative comments toward the rally are protected under free speech, Wong said she believes the University is in a position to take a stand against hateful, hostile, racist or discriminatory speech that tries to dismiss productive dialogues started by students who are trying to rally.

“If you can step out of your comfort zone and have those conversations with people and learn about what people have had to deal with … that’s when the world becomes a better place,” said Isaiah Martin, a sophomore zoology student who also organized the demonstration.

Collegian News Editor Christina Vessa can be reached online at or on Twitter at @ChrissyVessa