Student Body Pres. leader reflects on term

Story by Eric Larson

As the semester comes to a close, current Student Body President Dylan Jambrek is preparing to hand his title over to President Elect Phil Rynish for the upcoming year. News Editor Eric Larson sat down with Jambrek for a look back at his time serving as leader of the student body.

Eric Larson: Why did you decide to run for president?
Dylan Jambrek: It’s a big responsibility to take on. I think someone does it because they think they can do the best job and that they have a certain skill set that will serve the student body at high levels with administrators, faculty, staff and community members. I thought about it for a couple years and was too engaged in other things, but then when those things faded away, I took a shot at it last spring.

EL: Now if I understand correctly, you were recently elected Vice President of United Council for next year. Can you tell me a bit about that?
DJ: Yes, that’s correct. Well, United Council represents all 182,000 students, about 150,000 of which are dues-paying members. The vice president manages the board of United Council, who is the manager of the nonprofit. Also, the executive director, who’s a staff position, reports to the Vice President. So I’ll be managing the board and the staff along with representing United Council at various events, talking to campus leaders — including student government leaders — and seeing what their problems are and helping them fix them.

EL: What was your involvement in the Blugold Commitment?
DJ: I was there on the ground floor of (it). I think without a doubt the Blugold Commitment is one of the biggest things our student government has ever taken on, myself as well. The idea that students and administration would partner to spend millions of dollars of academic money is literally unheard of across the country.
In fact, myself and Vice President-elect Morgan recently presented to the Higher Learning Commission with the provosts and the Chancellor; we got double-take looks that we were even there, almost like, “students shouldn’t be at this conference.” I mean, these were all mostly chancellors, provosts and faculty and everyone who was at our presentation was simply blown away by the very idea. Some people couldn’t even come to terms with it because students approving that much money to them is just crazy. This past fall, when we were at the meeting that wrote the budget, we all kind of walked out with chills because we had just dropped nine and a half million dollars across campus… you can literally see the impact you’re having on the university for years to come. It’s definitely one of the biggest things we’ve ever done.

EL: Besides the Blugold Commitment, what are some other goals you set to accomplish when you first took presidency?
DJ: Well, right there (Jambrek points to a wall in his office) is my campaign platform. I view platforms as kind of a contract with the people who elected you, so I put it on my wall when I first got in this room and crossed them off as I went. As you can see, three of the thirty-five things are undone, but I’d say thirty-two out of thirty-five isn’t bad. A lot of the issues are what a government should do always, and that is to guard the student’s money very well: to be a guardian of student rights and student input across campus, because all too often it becomes easy for people on campus to just ignore what the students think.

As for specific things, computer access was one of them that we definitely campaigned on. We just passed on Monday the standing station to be put in HSS as well as the standing station that’s been in Hibbard since last spring, just after I was elected.

Then there’s the mascot, which is kind of an issue I somewhat inherited but have taken on. We’ve just finished the mascot submissions for the imagery, and the committee’s selecting them tomorrow (Wednesday, May 4) and then we’ll contract to create an actual costume which should be around next fall.

EL: I understand you’ll be graduating either in December or next spring. What are your plans after that?
DJ: I don’t think I’ll be able to avoid a good fight, now and again. I think it’s kind of in my blood. I’ll probably end up in public advocacy of some kind; I hope, anyways. Right now, I’d like to work for non-profits if possible.

EL: What was the most rewarding aspect, not just from your time spent as president, but your time in student government as a whole?
DJ: The most rewarding things are when we’ve been able to make a direct impact on campus. I mean, a lot of times we’re passing resolution in support of something or in opposition of something, and you’re not really sure if that goes anywhere. But there are certain times when you do something and just see the results immediately. This past Monday was no exception: we funded a bus trial for the coming semester, created a standing station for computers and created the only office of sustainability that I know of in the UW System with a $200,000 budget to do sustainable projects on campus … and that was one meeting. The meeting did go until 10:30 p.m.; sometimes they’re aggravating and the debate can be annoying, but in the end, the product is always good and the students are generally served. At the end, you look back and say it was worth all the time and aggravation.

EL: Do you have any “words of wisdom” you’d like to leave behind for next year’s Student Senate?
DJ: For my successors, I’d say ‘Don’t let anything slide.’ And by that I mean that all too often when students get stepped on, we sometimes say, ‘Well, that’s not that big of a deal.’ And I think all too often that will spiral into bigger things; one small injustice turns into more. I think it’s important to be ever-vigilant about those things.

EL: Anything else you’d like to add?
DJ: To all of the students, I’d like to say that some of your best education will always come outside the classroom. The people you work with, organizations you sit on, will impact your life in a way much more profoundly than some of the classes you’re going to be taking at the university. Just make sure you’re not missing that component while you’re here.