First gay candidates hope to lead student government at university
Colorado Mesa University students Caleb Ferganchick, 20, and Sammie Martinez, 24, are running for Associated Student Government president and vice president, respectively, on a platform of increasing student fee revenue for activities through fundraisers, growing foreign exchange programs, and encouraging more diversity in the student senate.
That they are the first openly gay student body president-vice president duo on the ticket is just happenstance, they say.
“We’re not saying vote for us because we’re gay. We’re saying vote for us if you believe we have the right qualifications,” Ferganchick said.
The pair are running against two president-vice president match-ups — Connor Boe and Alex Forsett, and Jack Bryan and Lyndsey Karp — in the April 16-18 election for 2014-15 student government officers.
Ferganchick said he and Martinez met a couple years ago but became closer through Associated Student Government work last semester. Both found out a few months after getting to know each other better that the other was gay, but Martinez said that wasn’t why they chose to run together.
“I was approached a few times about running with someone as president or vice president,” she said.
She chose Ferganchick because, “It came down to, who can I work with? Who really cares and isn’t just looking to beef up a resume?”
Although their sexuality isn’t key to their campaign, Ferganchick said he hopes their potential election would inspire other students to feel comfortable being open about who they are.
They also hope to encourage more people from all backgrounds to join student government. Martinez, who is Hispanic, said she is just one of two Hispanic students in Associated Student Government. She hopes to see more students from various races, countries, states and majors join the organization.
The two say they think most students know they are gay and have been positive about that fact. Martinez said people she has talked to who did not know she is a lesbian have asked why she didn’t say so sooner and said they care about her political experience, not her sexual orientation.
“Even if we lose, I hope people can see how supportive the community is here,” Ferganchick said.