The how and why of CU student government
You’re in the big leagues now. The classes are bigger, the books are bigger and so is the amount of money that flies around your campus. So who is in charge of those student fees that could make your wallet a winner on The Biggest Loser? The University of Colorado Student Government.
No longer is the prom theme the most important decision those who represent you make. The CUSG controls $24 million, the largest budget of any student government in the country, according to its website.
So they control a lot of money, but how do they work?
Just like the United States government, CUSG is divided in to three branches: executive, judicial and legislative.
The legislative branch is divided into two houses, similar to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Council of Colleges and Representatives Council are responsible for voting on budgets, ratifying and removing council members and allocating funds. The legislative groups also may override any decision made by the executive branch with a 2/3 majority.
Made up of seven executively appointed members, the judiciary branch of CUSG is responsible for all matters of interpretation of the CU constitution. The decisions made by the judicial branch are final and apply to all parties involved with the issue. Usually issues that the judicial branch works with revolve around breaches of student conduct.
Finally, we have the executive branch. This branch differs the most from any other traditional government entity. Instead of having one person in charge, CUSG uses what is called a “tri-executive” system. The executive branch consists of three individuals who run on the same party platform. One person serves as president, while the other two serve as vice presidents, with one handling internal affairs while the other handles external affairs.
Sounds simple, right? Don’t jump to conclusions. The most recent elections in April 2013 did not end with a clear winner until all of the votes were counted, unlike the political big leagues, when one candidate removes his name once it is clear he is out. The online polling conducted through MyCUInfo, revealed one of the closest elections ever.
Although the percentages revealed a 50-50 split, the final vote count ended with a 3,354-3,332 victory for the UNITE party, according to CUSG’s website. Both the College Democrats and College Republicans, two of the most prominent student organizations on campus, endorsed the INSPIRE party.
So is CUSG right for you? Although you are unable to become a paid staff member as a freshman, CUSG allows first year students to work part-time, often with upperclassmen as advisors. From there, students may run for legislative and executive positions.
Student involvement with CUSG has been low recently, despite the April turnout rising above the 15-20 percent reported to CUSG by other schools. Twenty-four percent of students voted in the spring elections, according to official election results.
Be prepared. Come April, there will be representatives from each party all over campus trying to get your vote. You can vote with them, or you can vote in the comfort of your own home. You can vote for all of the candidates, or you can not give any of the candidates your vote. But whatever you do, be an informed student.