October 18, 2010

The ReFresh-ment CU Needs? ~ Hanna Johnson

Perhaps we need more, not less, focus on diversity, acceptance, and appreciation.

“I come from cracked pavement, gospel choirs, faces of color waiting at bus stops, the beauty of diversity and a strong Japanese American single mother that blessed me with strong morals and a compassionate heart.

It is my connection to humanity and the struggles of those who are less fortunate that motivates me to run for CU Student Government Representative at Large.”

~ Renee Roberts, candidate for Colorado University Student Government.

Roberts will be running on the ReFresh ticket to compete for a voice in student government in two weeks.

But candidates running for CUSG won’t just be battling opposing tickets; they’re up against some serious apathy on the part of student voters as well.

Last year only 3.3% of students voted in the election.

ReFresh is hoping to change that. Actually, ReFresh is hoping to change a lot of things about Student Government, including ensuring a voice and space for underrepresented communities (and the student groups that support them) on campus and in Boulder.

Many of the candidates come from underrepresented communities themselves and are committed to fighting for affordability, sustainability, representation, accessibility, connection, and safety for all students.

These aren’t just empty promises—one of the candidates for Representative at Large, Dan Bridge, is a self-described “young, but diversely experienced environmentalist” who is responsible for the fact that CU football games are now zero-waste.

Another candidate for Representative at Large, Carter Squires, volunteers in his free time with the Immigrant Legal Center which provides free or affordable legal services to immigrants in the community.

Most of the candidates are members of numerous leadership programs and student groups on campus.

Sounds good, right? But why does it matter?

CU has the most powerful student government in the nation, but very few people know or care who is representing them or the choices those people are making—the recent decision to cut the administration’s diversity officer, instead merging the responsibilities of the position with academics, is a prime example of the kind of decisions ReFresh is committed to fighting against.

On a campus where students of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds are already underrepresented and report struggling to feel safe and comfortable on campus, in a time when racially and sexually motivated attacks occur on campus and in Boulder and homophobia-motivated bullying is leading to suicides on campuses around the nation—perhaps we need more, not less, focus on diversity, acceptance, and appreciation for what is different and beautiful about others.

That’s what I came to college to develop, and it makes me sad to think that some of my peers may graduate without that respect and appreciation.

In the context of recent attacks on campus, growing concern about  safety, especially for women and minorities, and the cutting of programs related to diversity and others, the ReFresh ticket hopes to ensure the safety and voices of all students are a priority on campus. We are the progressive ticket this year, and are also committed to working for sustainability and affordability.

So if you think these issues are important, but maybe aren’t quite sold, come check out the candidates, check out the Facebook page, stop by one of the tables that will be up in the next couple weeks to say hey. Because ReFresh isn’t just about making their voices heard, they want to make yours heard too. But nobody can do that, unless you first speak. And then you vote.

ReFresh is hosting an event this Tuesday, October 19th from 11am – 2pm in the main hallway of the UMC. Come to meet the candidates, or for the DJ and goodies!

Hanna Johnson is a senior, media studies major at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In her free time she enjoys traveling and hatching half-baked plans to save the world.

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