Lory Student Center
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. We're here with our second fireside chat and we're excited to tell you all what our Cabinet has been up to, for the month of November, at the beginning of December. My name is Hannah Taylor, I'm the ASCSU President this year.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm Noah Schindler, the ASCSU Vice President for this year.
THE PRESIDENT: This administration remained engaged on the development on a brand new online presence for months, and today, we are excited to announce that a new website was just finished, located at taylorschindler.com. What will be put there is all of our fireside chats, our cabinet reports, updates, and a more straight-foward process to contact our Cabinet members. It is an opportunity for us to give you all a platform to know exactly what we're up to. We're excited about this, and we hope you use it regularly.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The COVID pandemic has put us in an odd situation, especially when it comes to communicating with students. This past November we tabled in Plaza to try and get some input on what students wanted to see changed around campus and the results were overwhelmingly, one, the issue around U+2 housing affordability, and two, a better academic experience on campus, which, we have worked towards as our Office of Academics worked tirelessly to get the Pass/Fail grading system and withdrawal deadline moved to today passed.
THE PRESIDENT: We’re here to discuss our plan for winter break first and foremost. Our Cabinet has several members continuing work on projects through winter break and we will post a list of all of our projects, plus a timeline for finalizing the projects. The list of projects includes the brand new mentor program that we'll be discussing later, our U+2 ballot initiative, our accountability program for apartment complexes in Fort Collins. Hopefully, we'll get a lot of progress finished to be able to go into next semester fully prepared, especially since we had the latest start of any Cabinet in ASCSU history.
Moving on, I want to focus on our U+2 project. In the November, our administration filed the notice of intent for a ballot initiative to change U+2 to add one additional person. At the time, we had five weeks to get 3280 signatures by January 6th, in order to get it on the April 6th election ballot. We had and continued to face issues, the most difficult being the limited timeline, as typically a ballot initiative gets 60 days, but we were still required to submit it at least 90 days in advance before the election, without any extensions. At the start of December, Larimer County went into Code Red, and we had issues as far as a lot of businesses closed down, and finding enough people to gather signatures. Remember, the key number to reach was 3280, and typically, initiatives need to get about 7800, as the city informed us that about 35% - 50% of signatures are invalid. After Cabinet level meetings, we decided, because of Larimer County moving into Code Red, we now will be advocating for the city to put it on the ballot by a vote. Our top priority is to limit possible exposure in regards to our Cabinet members, and the general public from volunteer(s) to signers.
We can have the first slide, please.
I wanted to show you the timeline for this process. Following through with the collecting signatures plan, we would have the month of December. And like previously stated, January 6th, is the date we have to get the signatures into the City Clerk's office. Once done, the Council would then have the opportunity to decide whether they want to vote on it in chambers, or if they want to put it on the ballot for the public to decide. The central risk was not gathering enough signatures by the deadline. Moving forward, after the vote happens and if/when it gets put on the ballot, we have the months of February, March, and the beginning of April - until April 6th - to campaign and raise awareness on this issue. April 6th is our local election day, so ideally that's when the community will decide on changing U+2 to something like Me+3.
There’s another side to this effort, and that’s getting the conversation started. We have been in meetings with our digital and marketing teams to prepare and create our messaging strategy for this effort. Our digital strategy team has built messaging that is focused on raising awareness on the history of the U+2 housing.
During a recent meeting on this effort, I realized that had I not been in ASCSU previously, I would never had know the history of this ordinance. I would like to give a brief overview therefore. The ordinance was started in the 1960s, part of the rising anti-immigrant sentiment, as back when Fort Collins was an agricultural town, huge numbers of immigrants moved in, and started packing houses. As a result, community members in Fort Collins started advocating against immigrants by passing strict laws, and one of those is the now well-known U+2 ordinance. Flash forward, as it developed throughout 2006 - 2007, the ordinance changed from criminal law to civil, meaning that it was enforced on a civil basis, when the city hired a full team to carry out investigations. This pricey expenditure was created for the sole purpose of investigating and if needed, carrying out enforcement of the policy through fines/evictions. Now; students have become the largest targeted group, and the discriminatory policy is still continued to this day. Fort Collins is a place that prides itself on conservation, from our environment to our power consumption, to trash and waste strategies. Looking west, we are so lucky to have the striking landscape that we have all grown so familiar with, and that is in part due to our conservation of land, for the sole purpose of having open space. By limiting the number of residents in a household, the faster the need for new residences expands. Supply and demand, in full affect. With the future forecast for continual growth in the Loveland-Fort Collins metro, we will and have already seen the explosion of construction projects at the base of the foothills, and there has been a loud backlash from the community members.
I will now pass back to Noah to for further comments.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Hannah. Today, in our call today with both President McConnell and Vice President Hughes, we discussed the irony of wanting to preserve land and keep the U+2 ordinance in order. I mean, it's quite clear that if you moved the right size housing, it opens up a lot more space within the city and with the already built buildings here, the less we need to encroach on any open space, the better.
On a different note, we have been working with RamRide and Lift. Right now, we have a partnership with Lyft that gives students half off your ride anywhere in the county. We're looking into ways to move further into a partnership with them to try and get extremely discounted, if not free rides.
THE PRESIDENT: Our Office of Academics is continuing work on a brand new mentor program. We're currently working with members of the CSU administration to edit the program proposal. That will be ready to launch at the beginning of the spring semester, and we're focusing our efforts to provide for first-generation and transfer students. Our hope is to launch this program and start pairing mentors and mentees as soon as possible, to relieve some of the academic struggles that have caused by COVID, and then also just in general.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Our Office of Health just finished their flu shot initiative with the CSU Health Network, which went far better than expectations. You’ll see from the slide that we have — they all recieved their flu shots. Most people have forgotten the fact that the flu is still around because coronavirus is taking so much of our mental capacity. It is still extremely important that you get your flu shot and stay healthy.
THE PRESIDENT: We are working on a distribution plan for thermometers, looking at putting in a mass order thermometer that we can distribute them as needed. We will be starting a process of distributing hundreds of them all across the campus.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Before I move onto the next subject, let me remind you that your health should be your priority right now. Put the health of your family, your neighbors, and your community first; practice good hygiene; wash your hands; practice social distancing, or wear a mask whenever it’s indicated, or whenever you’re unable to practice distance and listen to your local authorities.
In the middle of the pandemic, SFRB, among the many other boards and committees, have been working around the clock to operate and provide services. SFRB stands for the Student Fee Review Board. Just recently, we ratified seven new members. The board is composed of 20 members in total and they have control over all the student fee allocations, so if one of the areas requires a budget increase, they come to the board, and then we carefully and often more than once, check their financials to make sure that that money is going well deserved uses.
Our Pacesetter Scholarship has also had some delays because of COVID but our committee met yesterday for the last time. The applicants that won will be announced on Monday. It was hard to narrow this applicant pool down in our current situation. To make that better in the future, over winter break, I'll be working towards moving that into a greater CSU scholarship pool. Hannah?
THE PRESIDENT: I would like to finish today by talking about opportunities coming up to get involved in ASCSU. Our Director of Campus Engagement, Taylor Millson, will be officially launching our internship program, where there will be an intern paired with every single Executive Office. If you have any interest in applying for Cabinet during college, this is a stellar opportunity to do so. The process is often competitive and receives many applications, the sooner you apply the better. The Student Fee Review Board still has a few seats open due to members with outside commitments, contact the Office of the Vice President, or contact the committee directly from the SFRB page. I - I am almost remiss to say this, but the Elections Committee is just about to hire. If you're interested in how the Student Government elections are run, apply. Honorable Chief Justice Dailey informed me that there is a vaccancy on the Supreme Court, a justice stepped down, if you are interested in applying, please contact the Supreme Court.
We are coming into a new semester, with vaccines being distributed, we would like to extend to you a very merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year, and see you all back in January.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Enjoy your winter break, as always be safe, stay healthy, and we hope to see you again in the spring. Thank you for listening. Thank you.