Although she is a Journalism and Media Studies major, Kyrie Merline wants to be involved in the political process at Colorado State University.
Originally from the Milwaukee area in Wisconsin, Merline came to CSU because she was very familiar with Colorado. Her brother went to the University of Denver and she also has an aunt to lives in Golden. “I was already out here all of the time and I got to fall in love with the campus,” said Merline. She didn’t want to follow in her brother’s footsteps and go to DU, and CSU was the perfect fit for her in Colorado.
A junior JMC major and double minor in business and ethnic studies, Merline has kept herself involved at CSU. She was part of the advertising club as well as SLiCE adaptive swim, where she would help people with various disabilities, from kids to adults, and swim with them. She is also a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.
Currently, she is a volunteer at the Larimer Humane Society where she helps out with their marketing. She is helping plan different events to promote the new shelter and is also working on email blasts for the upcoming Fire Hydrant 5K. Merline said she really enjoys volunteering at the Humane Society because she has always grown up with animals. Her mom is in the veterinary field and she has a good family friend, whom she calls her aunt, who is also a vet. “There were always animals at my house so it was hard to come to school and not have that partnership I’ve always had,” said Merline. “I started volunteering so I could fill the void.”
Volunteering at the Humane society not only filled a void, but it also helped Merline decided that after she graduates, and before she gets her masters, she wants to become a director of marketing for a humane society somewhere in the world.
Growing up, Merline attended Milwaukee Jewish Day School from kindergarten to sixth grade. Her family is very reformed with her mother being Jewish but her father non‐Jewish, but Merline stated that they have always had a strong presence and a foundation for ethics and rules to follow in Judaism. “My family has made [Judaism] to be what we want it to be,” said Merline. She mentioned that she has gotten a lot less involved with Judaism since being in college, but when she goes home, she still celebrates many holidays with her family and they still have Shabbat dinners together.
She went to Camp Interlaken, a Jewish camp in Wisconsin run by the Jewish Community Center. She began going when she was 6 years old and went until her sophomore year of high school. Her last year at camp, they went on a trip to Israel for a month and a half. “It was a lot of fun and it definitely woke me up to a lot of things,” said Merline. “Everyone thinks it’s this giant war zone, but Tel Aviv looks like Miami.”
Merline explained that while she was in Israel, she got news that her grandfather had passed away. Two days later, her group went to the Western Wall. “That was my strongest connection to Judaism when I was there,” said Merline. “It was a way to cope.”
This year, Merline is running for ASCSU vice president alongside Eddie Kendall, who is running for president. She had known Eddie before because he is in the same fraternity as her boyfriend, Theta Chi, and they both have the same big brother.
“When I decided to run, I was like, ‘Who would I even run with?’” said Merline. “I thought of Eddie and we talked and realized our values aligned really well and that we could make a really good platform out of all the issues that we cared about.”
One of the main reasons Merline decided to run is because she feels that when you walk into the ASCSU office, there is a very chilling environment. “At least I don’t feel very welcomed and I think some students feel very similar,” said Merline. “I did feel like I could change something and make it better. It was more just that I saw a need for change and thought, why not do it?”
They call their platform “The Triple Bottom Line.” Economy, sustainability, environment.
Economy references how much students are paying. Merline noted that college is very expensive for a lot of people and while they feel they may not be able to reduce student fees, Merline and Kendall want to think of alternative methods for students to not have to spend as much money as they are currently. They want to make sure students can talk to teachers to see if there is a free e‐text online or if they can scan a book so that an entire class can have access. “We’re thinking of alternative options so we can give back to the students and the community,” said Merline.
For sustainability, they want to find a way to landscape around the new stadium in a sustainable way. They believe fruit trees would be the best way to do that. “If we plant fruit trees, it would help benefit a lot of students,” said Merline. They plan on planting fruit trees around the stadium and the fruit from the trees can go to the dining hall. Additionally, horticulture students will be able to gain experience learning about the trees and can help grow the trees. “Using fruit trees instead of regular trees pushes things that can actually be given back to the students and have the students be working on,” Merline explained.
While the environment can tie into sustainability, Merline and Kendall also want to make sure they’re creating a good environment for students. She mentioned that she doesn’t really feel welcomed in ASCSU and she likes to think that she is an involved student. “Imagine if a student that wasn’t involved was walking through the campus and they don’t feel that they would feel welcomed in ASCSU,” said Merline. She feels that it is really important that the environment changes in order to get a wide range of students involved in ASCSU.
Merline also discussed that being able to participate in ASCSU is a privilege. She mentions that a director in ASCSU only received two to five dollars an hour. “We would cut back on some positions to increase on other salaries that that students who do work many jobs to make ends meet would have ASCSU as an option,” said Merline.
She explained that there are some positions in ASCSU that can be combined. For example, she mentioned that there is a director of marketing and a deputy director of marketing, but there also needs a graphic designer. Merline proposed that they find a deputy director of marketing who also has graphic design experience and increase their pay so they’re getting paid more to do both jobs and live off of what they are making. “We’re really making sure we’re getting a wide range of students and not just students that have the privilege of working [at ASCSU],” said Merline.
Merline and Kendall also want to bring in an outsider perspective into ASCSU. Merline discussed how she had applied for the director of marketing last year but didn’t get it because of the gratification process (the process where members of ASCSU vote yes or no as to whether someone will get a position) and some issues that went on behind the scenes. “The big thing is we want people from outside of ASCSU, as well as people who are currently part of ASCSU,” said Merline. “We want to make sure that when they are going through the gratification process that there aren’t any personal attacks and that it’s done in a fair way.”
Merline and Kendall are also pushing for diversity of all students. “I think the biggest thing for all student who have a diverse background or different religion compared to Christianity is really just bringing them into the office and have them be the roots of how ASCSU is run next year,” said Merline. “We want Jewish students and we want people of color and we want DACA students and we want all of these people to fill the office with a very wide range of opinions.”
Merline also discussed how there has been a rise in racial segregation, anti‐Semitism, homophobia, etc. in the world. Merline thinks the best way to deal with prejudice is to start a conversation to see why it is happening and how to protect students. “I think it’s important to address it head on and ask ourselves why are students being targeted and what students are targeting and what community members are targeting different students,” explained Merline. “Really opening up those conversations and figuring out how we can better represent students while also figuring out how we can protect students.”
She also wants to make sure conversation isn’t the only way to deal with prejudice. “If things like that do happen on campus or in the community, we’re really making sure CSUPD is involved and see why this isn’t better … and really understanding all of that,” said Merline.
Merline believes her passion about diversity has stemmed from Judaism. She strives to make sure everyone is included. She also noted that sustainability is big in Judaism and noticed when she went to Israel that there would be palm forests in the desert. “Even people in the middle of the desert can make sustainability work,” stated Merline. “If they can make it work, we can probably make it work [at CSU].”
Win or lose, Merline believes the most important thing about ASCSU elections is that people vote. “I think it’s important to push students to vote no matter who they vote for,” said Merline. “When you’re electing people to represents you as a student, it all starts with voting and understand who you’re voting for.”
As for a life in politics after ASCSU, Merline says to ask her when she’s not sleep deprived. “I don’t see myself being a big politician, but I see myself being an activist and standing with those people that are underrepresented,” stated Merline.
“ASCSU has helped me grow as an individual so win or lose, I don’t feel like I’m losing anything because I’ve gained so many connections and so many friends and I’ve gained knowledge that will benefit me even if I don’t go into politics,” said Merline.