It was week three of our freshman year and we were excited new students seeking to navigate life on a new campus in a new city, amidst a new culture. Sitting amongst our peers in the annual Penn Student Government info session , we faced a daunting decision: To run or not to run?
It was a scary decision to make indeed. We were women running for student government positions in which women had long been under-represented. One of us hadn’t participated in student government elections in high school, and while the other had, student government at the college level felt enormous and daunting.
Fast forward three years later to our first few weeks as seniors. Reflecting on our time here, the best decision we’ve made as undergraduates at Penn was a simple one: to run.
While campaigning, we met hundreds of people whom we otherwise wouldn’t have — people we hadn’t yet crossed paths with during NSO and people who now are some of our closest friends. We leveraged the diverse talents of our peers by mobilizing small campaign teams that we’re still close with. We honed our communication skills, learned about marketing and promoting, pushed ourselves to build on and to think about and to draw upon our strengths and emerged into new networks and safe communities full of supportive administrators and peers. It became clear to us that our backgrounds and our experiences in high school were less relevant than our passion for serving our school, our eagerness to learn the ropes and our willingness to take a little bit of risk.
If you’re brimming with Penn spirit and energy, if you’re eager to lead the charge of unifying your diverse class, if you feel immensely connected to your peers and excited to support and to serve and to advocate for them and if you want to be behind the events that are the staples of the Penn experience by planning the University’s greatest traditions, run for a position on your class board.
If you aspire to improve student life from a policy perspective, if you want to work toward understanding and meeting the needs of dozens of student groups, if you’re interested in managing funds that impact the entire undergraduate student body and if you hope to consult the administration on issues that are central to every Quaker’s experience, run to be a part of the Undergraduate Assembly.
Can’t decide? Run for both.
If any of the above appeals to you, it isn’t too late to start now! Start collecting your classmates’ signatures, and start reaching out to your hallmates, your acquaintances and your friends for support. Enjoy the ride, be yourself and run a campaign that is true to you. The campaign lasts for a quick two weeks. But the memories and experiences you’ll amass en route will continue to impact you well beyond your four years on campus.
Find information about how to run at www.penn-nec.org , message Penn’s Nom inations and Elections Committee if you have questions about election rules and reach out to current class board and Undergraduate Assembly members for campaign tips.
If the concept of serving Penn in a big way enthralls you like it did us, then don’t hesitate. Even if it means you have to leap — run!
Ariel Koren and Joyce Kim are the senior class president and student body president of Class Board 2015 and the UA, respectively. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. and email@example.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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