Meet Kim Spitzfaden: SGA President


This week, we’ll get to know perhaps the biggest celebrity on our campus: SGA President Kim Spitzfaden ’11. Not only does Kim, an American Studies and Women’s Studies major, have quite a bit of say in the policies that create our everyday lives as Oles, but she also happens to be a pretty big fan of women’s rights. We dig it!

Kim on her Interim trip to Tibet. She's in front of the Potala Palace.

Her Campus St. Olaf: What exactly is your job description?
Kim Spitzfaden: I’m in charge of Executive Committee meetings on Thursday nights, which are made up of all the branch coordinators in SGA. We go around and talk about what every branch has coming up, and it’s a good way to communicate and plan with each other. We’ll also talk about other things that are going on, for example the dance policy in the Pause. I also go to Senate meetings. The Vice President is actually in charge of Senate meetings, so I’m there to know Robert’s Rules and help out in that area. I also look out for all the coordinators and help them out with their events, and if something’s not going well in a specific branch I help them solve those problems.

HC: How much time during the week do you spend doing presidential things?
KS: Probably too much time! I have five office hours a week, plus the two weekly meetings. I’m in my office all the time, not always doing SGA-related things, but just doing homework and talking to the people who come in and out. So it’s hard to put an exact number on it, but I’d say 10 hours or so.

HC: Is there anything you do that most students don’t realize is part of the SGA President’s work?
KS: Well, once a month the SGA President and Vice President as well as the BORSC chair eat breakfast with either Dean Kneser or President Anderson, so we get to know about things that are happening on campus that most students don’t know about. They always ask us for the student opinion on that sort of thing. They want to know what the student body thinks, but they can’t necessarily come to the entire student body, so they ask us as representatives.

HC: Did you ever think as a first year that you would end up SGA President?
KS: I thought it would be cool, but I was never like, “I’m going to do it.” My first year, I was Hill-Kitt Senator, sophomore year I was Mohn Senator and was on the faculty curriculum committee, and then during sophomore year Taylor Brorby asked me to run as his Vice President since we had been on Senate together, so we did that. Junior year I hadn’t decided if I was going to run for President since it was a big time commitment and I didn’t want to get burned out, but it didn’t look like there were very many people planning on running, so Eric Sheforgen and I decided to do it.

HC: What has been the biggest accomplishment of your term as SGA President?
KS: I think there are two equally important accomplishments. One is creating the After Dark Committee, which a lot of people worked on, not just me. It came from BORSC’s first report of the year, and then the senators worked on it. We thought to make it happen, how to best structure it and how it would affect other branches. The second is that SGA got a budget increase from the school. For the next three school years, the SGA allocation will increase by the same percentage as the tuition increase, which is really huge. We haven’t gotten an increase in our budget in something like 10 years.

HC: What has been the hardest thing about being President?
KS: I think the hardest thing is just knowing when there’s something that needs to be done SGA-wise, and when I need to do my homework, since I’m a student first. Also it’s hard to know when to step in and help the coordinators with problems that arise, and when to let them do it on their own, since it’s their committee. I don’t want to overstep my boundaries.

HC: Do you have any advice for this year’s SGA election candidates?
KS: They just need to have fun and not let it get too serious. I’ve been there, worrying too much and not having fun in the process. Obviously they all care about what they’re doing; otherwise they wouldn’t be working as hard as they are. They don’t need to get hung up on little political things like whether they have enough posters up. If you show people that you really want to do it and it’s something you’re passionate about, then they’re going to vote for you.

HC: What are your hopes for next year’s SGA?
KS: I hope that the After Dark Committee gets off the ground and runs smoothly. Obviously the first year is hard for everything, but I hope that whoever is After Dark Committee Coordinator, President and Vice President can get things running smoothly, keep in mind the vision we have for it, and be really creative with it. That’s the biggest thing for next year.

HC: If you could meet any US President ever, who would it be and why?
KS: I think it would be FDR, because I think everything he did with the New Deal and the Depression is really interesting.

HC: If you were elected President of the Universe, what would your first move be?
KS: I would ensure equality for women in all countries, regardless of political and religious difficulties they face now, and just make sure that women have equal opportunities and access to everything.

HC: Have you ever run into difficulties being a female president?
KS: Not overtly, but sometimes I notice differences. Last year, people would talk to Taylor about problems, and I always just assumed that was because he was president and that was his job. But this year, it seems like more people go talk to Eric about things that would’ve been brought to Taylor last year. Who knows if it’s because they know Eric, or because Eric is around when they need someone to talk to, or because they assume Eric is president since he’s a male and I’m a female. Also, when I get upset about something or lay down the law, the reaction is “Kim’s being really mean; she’s being a b****,” whereas when Taylor would do that last year, it was because he was being a leader. But if people make comments or jokes like that, I don’t let it slide. People on SGA know where I stand with feminism and women’s equality.

HC: Fill in these sentences:
St. Olaf men are… well, they can sometimes be immature. Not all the time, but sometimes.
St. Olaf women are… put together. We don’t wear sweats very often!

HC: Any advice for Ole women?
KS: Stand up for what you believe in, and don’t hesitate to do anything because you’re a woman or because people will think you’re stepping out of your place. We’re the majority on campus, and that should be reflected.