This month Neil Aasve, former Students United Director of Campus Organizing, moves to Denver, Colorado to start a new position with One Colorado as their Safe Schools Program Coordinator. The skills and qualities that Neil shared with Students United will no doubt also help One Colorado advance their critical work.
When Neil started with Students United, then MSUSA, in July 2013, we were a very different organization. Many of our accomplishments are linked to Neil’s efforts and I want to share what I consider were his top three contributions to Students United:
1. Issue Campaigns: Neil determined that Students United needed to engage with students by focusing on issues that matter to them and implemented a clear issue selection process. Last year’s issue campaigns of Mental Health Awareness, Diversity and Inclusion, Sexual Assault Prevention and Textbook Affordability led to over 40 campus events and the passage of a textbook bill aimed at reducing textbooks costs for students!
2. Organizing: Neil recognized that Students United needed to get as many students involved in our grassroots advocacy work as possible. With the addition of on-campus organizers, well organized and hardworking student committees at each of the state universities, and the utilization of technology, we had a large increase in students signed up for our updates, interest in volunteering on campus and emails sent to legislators
3. Passion for Advocacy, particularly Inclusion and Equity: Neil was fully engaged in the advocacy work that Students United does at all levels and thought critically and strategically about all of the policy recommendations that we developed. His work with our Diversity Advisory Committee led to the commitment of a Minnesota State system-wide Diversity Council.
Neil’s sense of humor and his determination to push us to do the best work we could do was much appreciated during his three years at Students United. Thank you Neil, keep in touch, and best wishes for continued success in Colorado!