Have you voted yet? As we wrap up elections for the Southern Virginia University Student Association (SVUSA), you may have noticed that a whopping eight people have been campaigning to be next year’s student body president. This interview with our current president, JD Drasbek, might help you understand the roles and responsibilities that will be expected of next year’s president.
Q: Describe your responsibilities as Student Association President
JD: [The Student Association President is] the voice of the students and represent[s] them, so … [it’s important] to know the students, their concerns, [and] how they’re doing. … You have to stand up for them. … It’s made an easy role to do because our administration is so pro-student empowerment. They increased the budget of Senate by over 600 percent. … I find the most effective way [to know the students] is just meeting with students one on one, talking in the cafeteria and going to activities. It’s a full-time job. “SVU Be Heard” online is a new tool for student feedback that goes directly to the SVUSA.
Q: What does your schedule look like?
JD: Two weeks to this date will [mark] one year of meeting once a week with the EC. … Senate [is] every other week. University Council … is every other week, contingent on the president’s schedule. University council is composed of the President’s Council and any other invited members. … In the past, students had not been allowed to [attend] that, so that’s something I really pushed for during my presidency; for students to be allowed on committees that make decisions. And we’ve seen little changes that have made big impacts because of the relationship we have with the administration. And it’s because they’re so student empowered. Every week is my solutions committee meeting. … I also meet with the dean on a regular basis and I discuss things with President Wilcox.
Q: Why did you decide to run for this position?
JD: I think it’s twofold: one is because I believe in the university, it helped to shape the man that I am today, and I wanted to help others have that same experience; [second], I saw that the way I was able to have that success was because of the faculty, great friends, and because I was involved inside and outside the classroom. … We found that students who stayed were ones who were involved, so we chose “All In” as the slogan, and the results we have seen so far from that vision of “All In” is over 100 percent fall sporting events attendance up compared to last year, two of the highest attended football events in school history, six new clubs this year compared to one last year, and really I think a whole collective team feeling on campus. … Successful campus life equals happy students; happy students are students that stay. Students that stay tell their friends, and that equals more involvement. … When I first heard about the school, I knew there was something special about it. I knew it was something that could become like a Harvard or a Stanford in the future, and I wanted to be a part of that and a pioneer in it. … The most prized thing [Southern Virginia] gave me was a relationship with the Savior. I had never been as close to the Savior as here. It was a wonderful pre-mission experience. And that’s really why I did run — I want people to have that experience and I know [Southern Virginia’s] a special place, and a place where I can help others have that happen.
Q: What personal qualities or characteristics do you feel best prepared you for or made you most capable in completing your responsibilities?
JD: My mission [for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], hands down. There’s a book called “Preach My Gospel,”which is a book from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It teaches individuals how to be missionaries, but it’s more so a book about teaching and communication skills … some of the most important skills we can have in this life. I would say PMG and serving a mission have given me the skills to accomplish what we did this year.
Q: What do you hope to see the next president accomplish?
JD: Be all in. My slogan as a candidate a year ago was building upon the foundation of our excellence and really there’s been amazing individuals that have laid the foundation before me and I was just put in the right place at the right time and tried to improve a few things here and there, so that’s really what I would like to see the next student body president do — continue the vision of this university to have students become leader-servants, for them to be all in both inside and outside the classroom and to be an example of that at all times and in all places.
Q: What has been the best part of being on the Executive Council?
JD: Doing work! Getting things done, seeing things actually get changed, being able to see the needs of students, talking with them one on one, writing proposals, giving them to the administration and senate. … it’s inspired me to think of going into politics and maybe even running for an office … I love standing up for the students and the university. Being able to stand up for what’s right excites and exhilarates me.
(Post by Lauren Hafen ’16. Photo by Jordan Wunderlich ’15.)