Meet Your New AUSG Executive Board


Thanks to American University's location in Washington, DC, student government elections on campus are a huge topic of conversation and debate. Watching the election night results at AU can be equated to watching a college sports game--everyone remains on the edge of their seats and all sides are analyzed. Her Campus American had the chance to sit down with the newly elected members of AUSG's 2015-2016 Executive Board to learn more about what makes them tick and what they would like to see for AU's future. 

AUSG's 2015-2016 Executive Board:

Sasha Gilthorpe, President

Jack Fitzpatrick, Vice President

Jake Stone, Comptroller

Martin Valderruten Perea, Secretary

Her Campus American University: What are you most excited about for next year? How did it feel to secure your position?

Sasha Gilthorpe: Learning that I won felt like a dream, I had to remind myself that it was real for days. I’m excited to keep fighting for AU students, but now in bigger ways. AU wants to see what I’ve got, and I’m ready to show them.Jack Fitzpatrick: I am excited to bring high quality programming experiences to AU Students -- I am especially excited to start to appoint cabinet members so that we can get a jump start on this year's efforts. It felt great to finally secure the vice presidency as this is something that I'm definitely ready to start working on!Jake Stone: I am most excited to be able to meet more people on campus and create real change on this campus. I try to center myself by always focusing on relationships and communication within those relationships. This is definitely going to extend into my work as comptroller, communicating constantly with hundreds of students and organizations to be able to do my job justice. It felt incredible to get this position! The best part was just knowing that so many students and groups backed me and saw me as a good leader who could support and augment their voices. I can’t wait to prove to them all that they made a good choice.Martin Valderruten Perea: It was such an amazing feeling when I was got my position. It was such a great, humbling feeling to have the students supporting me (even if I was unopposed). I’m most excited to be able actually answer students’ questions when they ask what student government is doing. Right now I think that’s a big question that every student is asking, and they aren’t getting an answer. I want to promote transparency and hopefully create real change on campus!

HCAU: What do you plan to accomplish within your new role in student government? 

SG: I’m ready to tackle the specific goals I laid out in my platform. I built a road map, and I’m geared up to follow it.JF: I plan to strengthen the class and school councils, provide support to arts organizations as well as other clubs and organizations, bring multicultural speakers and performers, and hold our programming efforts and spending of our budget to a high standard.JS: I mostly want to improve communication between many of the student groups and student government. Often the biggest criticism of SG is that it serves the students and groups without knowing what they want. So I hope to act as that bridge and fund groups to be very successful. I’m also eager to be a strong advocate for student voices, holding the Board of Trustees accountable to the students.MVP: I think student government has a long history of being an insular, uncommunicative organization. I’d love to start changing that and start showing our support to other organizations on campus by promoting or co-sponsoring events. I also think that recently (especially after these last elections) SG doesn’t have the best reputation on campus. When I first got to AU I saw the SG as an organization I admired and wanted to be a part of, which I think has really changed for students coming into AU now. During my year as secretary I want to start rebranding AUSG something that students on campus can appreciate and respect.

HCAU: How do you plan to work with other cabinet members to accomplish goals next year? How will you utilize the AU community?

SG: I want to empower my cabinet to fight for every critical issue on campus. There’s lots of work to be done and no one can do it alone. AU is full of strong voices on nearly every issue, and there are experts in every corner of this campus. I want to pull from those treasure troves of passion and get to work, together.JF: I am all about collaboration (as you probably already know). Within my own cabinet, I am excited to, again, start appointing great people and get this whole show on the road. I would also like to start working with members of other cabinets. This includes the chair(s) of the ethnic and cultural coalition, the LGBTQ Voice Deputy, members of Women's Initiative, as well as other students driving advocacy work under the presidential cabinet. I would like to utilize the AU Community, by not only collaborating with other students groups and organizations, but ACTIVELY encouraging students to apply for positions in not just my cabinet but all SG cabinets once applications are released!JS: I plan to be in constant communication with the other cabinet members, making sure that we are supporting one another in our roles and providing each other with the necessary tools to succeed. Although we each have our own roles, we are one entity and should act as such to be successful. We can each support and elevate one another, making SG stronger as a whole. I think the AU community will utilize me - not the other way around. I want to be a resource, providing funds and structural knowledge of the budget and university, wherever possible. Again, I will try to be the bridge of communication between students and SG or students and the Board of Trustees.MVP: I’m now starting to think about how I want to build my cabinet, and I’m so excited. I definitely want them to be a big part of rebranding AUSG so that I can get as many student voices involved as possible. Basically, I want to build a great team to support and foster better communication with both other students and especially other organizations on campus. I’m also really looking forward to finding a great IT and graphics person for the cabinet (so you can look forward to a newer, better AUSG website!).


HCAU: What challenges do you predict will come with your new position and how will you work to overcome them?

SG: Fighting for change isn’t particularly glamorous, and there will be many uphill battles. I do it because it is important, because I love it, and because it makes the victory that much sweeter. I can’t say I’m looking forward to those hardships, but I’m ready for them. When you find your path blocked, you don’t turn back. You go around it, over it, or under it.JF: Being on such a diverse campus is tricky because student opinion can be tough to track. The biggest challenge that I see is keeping the pulse of the AU student in regards to programming. I will work to overcome this by appointing people to my cabinet who represent different parts of our campus community, making sure to poll student opinion through research, and using my best judgment because I understand AU students.JS: It will be a large time commitment. All I need to do is get organized, which I love doing. I have to make sure to practice good self-care strategies throughout the upcoming year to be able to stay on top of all of my responsibilities, while maintaining my composure. I encourage everyone to practice self-care!MVP: I think being able to communicate effectively with other organizations will be a bit hard since people already have a certain “image” of SG and what we do, so my job of changing that can and will be a bit of a challenge, but I’m extremely excited and feel prepared for the challenge to come!

HCAU: What is your favorite spot on campus?

SG: Walking through the Katzen tunnel from Nebraska at night. It’s so quiet and it feels like it’s all lit up just for you.JF: Battelle Atrium.JS: The Eagle’s Nest - they’ve got all the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.MVP: The amphitheater.

HCAU: What is the best class you’ve taken at AU?

SG: Political Violence and Civil War with Adrienne LeBas. Incidentally, it was also the hardest class I have ever taken at AU, but it was incredible.JF: Intro to Creative Writing.JS: Roots of Racism with Professor Rachel Watkins.MVP: Definitely Writing for Communication with Professor Glassman.

HCAU: Greatest advice you’ve received in college?

SG: Don’t always think you need a plan or to be posturing for your next move. If you do what you think is right and what you feel passionate about, the next step comes naturally.JF: Take your time and be yourself.JS: “Ally is a verb, not a label. Show up and participate for equality.” - Tracee McDanielMVP: The best advice I’ve received in college is when Patrick Kelly said to me last year, “Follow your dreams and don’t let anyone hold you back.”

HCAU: What are your top three best AU memories?

SG: Seeing Laverne Cox speak. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like it. Both Founders Days. Nothing better than dressing up and celebrating how much we all love AU. Coming back to DC and visiting my friends over the summer. Classes might not have been in session, but returning to my AU family, even for a couple days, was truly unbeatable.JF: SUB's Run the Jewels and Biz Markie. Having a show on WVAU since my first semester. KPU's Ezra Klein event.JS: Being the MC at AU Rising. Becoming a member of the executive board of AU Queers and Allies - everyone on the board is incredible and they feel like a little family for me. Playing soccer with my boyfriend on the field by the sand volleyball court.MVP: My top three moments would definitely be when I first met the AUSG execs during the activity fair my freshman year, getting to experience Holi on the quad with all of my friends, and hanging out with JoJo backstage after the SUB concert this year (fun fact: she stole my Instagram picture!).

HCAU: What are your top three favorite places to visit in DC?

SG: The Hirshhorn. I’m a sucker for quiet spaces filled with art. Especially weird art. Tryst in Adams Morgan: It is the coziest place to curl up with a book all morning. The Capitol Reflecting Pool. There’s no better place to relax during the hazy DC spring and summer. Double points if you’re an overworked Hilltern.JF: Music venues (esp. U St. Music Hall and 930 Club). Library of Congress. Amsterdam Falafelshop in Adams Morgan.JS: Joy Luck House in Chinatown. FDR Memorial. White House.MVP: Georgetown waterfront, the Hirshhorn, and Adams Morgan because I love going to brunch there.

HCAU: What's your favorite quote?

SG: “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” -Thomas Jefferson.JF: "We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing." -Lousia May Alcott.JS: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it’s stupid.” -Albert Einstein.MVP: "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." -Winston Churchill.

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