Before the 2012 presidential election, Central College students headed to the polls—almost six months early! Every year the campus elects a student body president to represent the students to the college administration, the board of trustees and the executive committee.
It’s a tough job, but senior Greg Ellingson proved the man for the position. Now halfway through his presidency, he is looking forward to the exciting challenges ahead and opportunities to make an impact during his last semester on campus.
“I decided to run for student body president because I had been a member of student senate for all of the semesters I had been on campus, and I felt like I had a lot to contribute,” Ellingson says. “During the first semester, we achieved a higher level of integration of students and administration across multiple areas.”
As student body president, Ellingson has a lot of responsibilities—mainly attending meetings to determine goals and the agenda for the year, as well as connecting students to President Mark Putnam and the rest of the college administration. The Central College constitution lays down all the tasks the student body president must undertake, but his week-to-week activities reflect what’s on the minds of the students and the campus as a whole.
His largest project during the first semester involved a comprehensive student survey. Faculty and staff from a variety of departments input questions that were later asked of students in an unbiased way. Gathering student opinions on topics ranging from campus technology to the academic calendar allowed the senate to understand how to better govern students and represent them to the administration.
From there, Ellingson established a relationship with food service in hopes of allowing students to voice opinions on meals that are served on a daily basis.
“These meetings that I have and the exposure of high-level administration to the student senate will allow for further student input across a variety of issues and departments,” Ellingson says.
During his final term as president, Ellingson hopes to bring in just a tad bit of fun. The first semester changes will start to become apparent, so his focus is going to turn towards weekend activities. Although there are always a variety of sporting events, fine arts shows, movies, social events, comedians and hypnotists on campus, Ellingson wants to do more for his fellow students.
“I think there is untapped potential for a more vibrant weekend culture on campus, and I think things could be done to make the community come together more by getting people out of their rooms and staying on campus!” he says.
Even more activities for students on campus means that Ellingson gets to spend his last semester enjoying every last moment. But all of this work is in preparation for something a little bit bigger—public policy. As a political science and economics major, Ellingson applied to the University of Chicago for graduate school in public policy. From there he wants to research or work on implementation in the fields of public policy and government. And through his efforts at Central, Ellingson feels more prepared to take the real world head-on.
“I’ve gotten a lot of experience meeting with high-level administrators, chairing a committee and understanding the work and follow-through necessary to get things done,” he says. “I want to find employment looking for solutions to problems in local, state or federal government, or in the private sector doing similar work. I feel comfortable in international, business and academic settings because of my experience at Central—I have grown as a leader. I am excited to see what’s out there and where I can find success.”