If you go

During the fall and spring semesters UCSG holds weekly legislative council meetings, which are open to the public.

What: Legislative Council Meeting

When: 7 p.m. Thursdays

Where: University of Colorado, University Memorial Center, Room 247

Visit: www-ucsu.colorado.edu/leg for more information and to find agendas usually posted 24 hours prior to meetings.

The University of Colorado has one of the largest student governments in the country but until last spring only a small percentage of the student body took an interest in the council's activities.

In the past, the fact that CU Student Government -- or CUSG -- has a budget of around $36 million, has not been enough to pique student interest. But last spring, controversial budget cuts and a vote on the Recreation Center renovations attracted a record voter turnout during elections, as well as a few key Legislative Council meetings.

Hundreds of students marched into Legislative Council meetings in February protesting bills that would effect funding for student groups including the Interactive Theatre Project who lost nearly half of their funding when the council voted to withhold student fee money. A bill that forced the Colorado Public Interest Research Group -- a large activist group on campus -- to lose their non-student worker and another removing child care from the Rec Center budget also attracted unprecedented attention.

"We had to make some tough decisions," said Carly Robinson, last year's Legislative Council President. "But fees will decrease this year from the previous year for the first time ever."

Robinson is the vice president for internal affairs for CUSG this year, one of three executives including President Andrew Yoder and Vice President of External Affairs Brooks Kanski.

The three ran as a ticket during the spring elections, which had a record voter turnout of more then 10,000 students, or around 30 percent of the student body.

University of Colorado Student Government executives Brooks Kanski, vice president of external affairs, Andrew Yoder, president and Carly Robinson, vice
University of Colorado Student Government executives Brooks Kanski, vice president of external affairs, Andrew Yoder, president and Carly Robinson, vice president of internal affairs pose for a photo during spring elections. Photo provided by CUSG, taken by David Lieberman.

The large voter turnout was largely due to a referendum asking students to approve a fee increase of $125 per student per semester to fund a $63.5 million renovation of the Rec Center, according to past CUSG members.

"I, personally, am looking forward to designing the new Recreation Center," Yoder said. "The project will be a good opportunity to better serve students and to leave a lasting legacy that future buffs will be able to enjoy."

Previous spring elections have brought in as little as 1,299 votes and fall elections are much smaller and have had a turnout as low as 739 students.

Important university spending decisions such as the renovations to the Rec center, the recent remodel of the UMC dining hall and student group funding are made by various branches of CUSG. While some spending decisions lie in the hand of the administration, others are taken to a student vote, like the final proposal for Rec Center renovations, because it would require an increase in student fees over one percent.

CUSG is made up of three branches: the legislative contains the legislative council, executive, the president and vice presidents and judicial, the appellate court which interprets the constitution.

Some of the student positions in CUSG are appointed and others are decided by majority vote by the student body. Elections will take place once during the fall semester and once in the spring.

Student group funding will be a hot topic this year following the controversial cuts made by last year's administration. This summer the tri-executives are focused on setting goals and for the upcoming year.

Robinson said the "fiscally conservative" administration will emphasize transparency in funding this year. CUSG is also working with the CU administration to reduce the campus's popular 4/20 pot celebration, in hopes of reducing the school's party school reputation.

Kanski said collaboration between CUSG and the cost centers, like the Rec Center, the UMC and Wardenburg, and with student governments within the colleges will be a key focus this year.

"Right now I think it's broken and a bit displaced, which ultimately makes it more difficult for our student government as a whole to accomplish agenda items," Kanski said.

Available positions will be posted online at the beginning of the fall semester including positions for the Freshman Council, which are volunteer positions though CUSG does host several paid positions among the various branches.

For more information visit the CUSG office on the first floor of the UMC in room 125.