A Message from President Aceves: A Conversation with the RUSGA President

Dear Colleagues,

National speaker and writer Chris Lowney said, "It all begins with acknowledging that we have some very profound challenges, and that we don't have easy answers at hand, things that we know will solve the problems. If people embrace those two facts, then the next steps are a little easier to fall into place." Reflecting on Chris' message, I think about how we accompany our students and inspire them throughout their time at Regis.

Current student Madelaine Johnson was recently re-elected as president of our student government, RUSGA. A Colorado native, Madelaine is a junior majoring in psychology. You may often see her with Moose, her trusted canine companion. I wanted to get her thoughts about her time at Regis and learn what it means to be an inspiring leader among her peers.

Q: What motivated you to pursue a second term?

A: As the youngest student body president in the history of Regis, I had the opportunity to follow through and continue the important work that I had begun. Specifically, the projects that I have created that I seek to continue are platforms for student voice through the Town Hall program; working collectively to make the University and community dedicated towards being Hispanic serving, as it is crucial that our campus represents our students in an affirming environment. In addition, I will continue to advocate for and with students on concerns regarding Follett Access, and encouraging more accessible student engagement programs. I believe that RUSGA has the potential to grow and offer more outreach to student organizations and individuals, such as student athletics, student affinity groups, Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention, University ministry, Housing and Residential Engagement, and work study students. 

Q: What are you most proud of as you reflect on your current term?

A: If a student comes to me with an issue, I will ALWAYS take appropriate actions. I will always include the student in the process, and I will always serve the Regis community. As a first-generation student, I believe that leadership begins with service and grassroots community involvement and ultimately student voice, interest, and representation are vital for a successful campus environment. This year, I have restructured RUSGA to be more inclusive, and have empowered our students to take direct action and follow-through within their advocacy and relationship with administration. I have collaborated with the Regis Programming Board on involvement; worked alongside Student Affairs to provide funding to Clubs and Organizations; collaborated with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence and the Queer Student Alliance to support and host the Queer Solidarity March and Club Q Vigil; and I have supported student voice through activist initiatives. There is a difference between hollow promises and solidified action, and I would like to reinforce my mission and standard of student centrism within our community. The standard that I have implemented is one of representation, diversity, and transparency. Through my current presidential leadership, I have ensured that the University is accountable for its promises.

Q: What are some of the challenges ahead?

A: The most significant challenge that I believe all university students are experiencing is recovering from post-covid isolation. Student confidence in our sponsored events is low and students are still struggling with having a sense of campus spirit whether at athletic games or club events. In which both my current cabinet and the new RUSGA cabinet is working on increasing visibility of student government and improving school spirit for student’s programs. Subsequently, from post-Covid isolation, student mental health poses a challenge for engagement and avenues for support. Ensuring that students are aware of the resources they have and increasing the accessibility of counseling and support is a priority for RUSGA. Additionally, over the course of this academic year, students have expressed a shared feeling that the administration is not supportive of the student body as a whole as there have been barriers based on personal beliefs to student initiatives that promote school spirit. Building trust and communication is a need that many students have approached me about. The overarching question that RUSGA has been trying to address is how to ensure that students want to stay at Regis and are excited to be a part of our community. I feel confident however that with our new administration leadership, student concerns will be addressed in real time and with authenticity. 

Q: What gives you joy and hope as you begin planning for your next term?

A: Every academic year offers new opportunities and new students to our campus. Welcoming the new freshman class is a chance I am eager to be a part of. With the inclusion of the next generation of Regis students, I also want to take the time to celebrate the graduating seniors on their accomplishments over the course of their time here. Growth, new relationships, and possibility offers RUSGA and the student body with a fresh opportunity to bolster Regis spirit, engagement, and representation. I am excited to be currently working on a project to connect student government presidents from Jesuit Universities to support and collaborate with one another. My hope for this program is through a connected student government program, we may be able to build diverse and creative events for students. Significantly, I am also hopeful for our new president of the University, Salvador Aceves, as he has already been proving that he listens to students and has been present with us on campus. I sincerely respect his dedication to student advocacy and have no doubt that he will lead with thoughtfulness and commitment.  

Q: As you think about your future here at Regis and beyond - what are you most hopeful about?

A: As a first-generation student I realize the importance of attending higher education, and I remain humble and grateful for the support that I have received while being at Regis. My current and potential work to promote equality, liberty, and human rights advocacy has been bolstered through the Peace and Justice program. Being a domestic violence survivor, I am working on further advocacy and state-policies that spread awareness, education, inclusivity, and safe spaces. Over the past five years I have worked alongside anti-domestic violence advocates, LGBTQ+ communities, and non-profit organizations supporting families. Working alongside bright and dedicated teams, as much as I have supported these communities, they have supported me and have helped construct me into who I am proud to be today.   

Madelaine’s thoughtful responses reflect her Jesuit Catholic education. I am inspired by her commitment to social justice, the development of the whole person, and her desire to make our world a better place by helping individuals reach their full potential.    


Salvador D. Aceves, Ed.D