It is Northern Iowa Student Government election time again! The crazy two weeks in February when you can’t even walk through the Union without getting pieces of paper, buttons, and even candy shoved into your hand from one of the Student Body President or Vice President hopefuls. Chris Miller already pointed out the importance of Campbell Hall in these elections on the NISGElections.com blog, noting that Campbell is the most active residence hall and votes in large numbers. Three of the last 4 winning tickets have had a Campbell connection.
It’s worth noting that perhaps the two most active houses in Campbell, Rainbow and Panther Den, are the male and female Honors clusters. Looking further, we see a trend of Honors students in NISG positions. Jake Rudy, 2009-2010 Student Body Vice President, current President Spencer Walrath and Vice President Ian Goldsmith, current Director of Public Relations Morgan Johnson, and candidates KaLeigh White, Jordan Bancroft-Smithe, and Beth Monnier all have a place in the University Honors Program.
President Walrath credits much of his current involvement to Honors Program, noting that “junior year I took the Honors Idea of a University course and became intensely interested in the inner workings of UNI”. He also stated that the Honors Student Advisory Board (HSAB) was the first student group he joined on campus, and that it launched his involvement in other organizations. Walrath gives great credit to the effect of planning things like the Last Blast (formerly known as the Honors Ball) and volunteer efforts through HSAB: “The experience that I gained …was essential to leading NISG”.
Former Vice President Rudy believes that “the Honors program allows students to meet and engage with students from every background … it prepares prospective student leaders to work with a student body that has interests and needs as diverse as the UNI campus is.” Rudy also noted that a majority of the campaign team that worked with Adam Haselhuhn and himself were Honors students, which reinforces the idea of Honors students’ high level of involvement. A large portion of Spencer and Ian’s campaign team were also Honors students. Rudy chose the Peer Leader program as his favorite experience in the Honors program because of several lasting relationships he built.
Looking at this, it’s interesting to think about the effect the Honors Program can have on NISG. Does having an Honors connection give you an advantage because of the high degree of involvement from Honors students, or from the increased preparation in leadership it provides? It seems as though the Honors Cottage is a great place to find many of our student leaders in one place, from senators to executive members of clubs to the Student Body President and Vice President. Will this trend continue this year? Will the Honors candidates use their connections and experiences from the program to their advantage?
I know that I’m proud to be a part of an organization that creates so many student leaders on campus. I wish the best to all candidates in this election, and I hope that they will all use the experiences they’ve had so far, whether in the Honors Program or elsewhere, to prove to us all that they have what it takes to lead at UNI. I encourage all students, Honors and otherwise, to stay informed on this election, and to vote.