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Campus Celeb: New ASUN VP Josh Waltjer

Earlier this week was voting day for ASUN’s exec positions, which meant crunch time for the running candidates. This week’s campus celeb is new ASUN VP elect Josh Waltjer, who gives some insight about the Empower party and on what all goes into the campaigning process. 

HC: What motivated you to campaign for president in the first place, and what was the hardest part of campaigning?

JW: When I ran with a Student Electoral Group my freshman year, I decided that I would at least consider the option of running for exec in ASUN.  By seeing the impact that ASUN can have on students through events like the 9/11 Remembrance day and Friends Beyond Borders, I decided that ASUN provides the best medium to positively impact students on campus. Earlier this year, I began considering options for executive team running mates. At first, Thien and Adamma weren’t even on my radar. But one night in October, I was talking to my friend Nick Devine (who just won an Arts and Sciences Senate Position), and he recommended that I talk with them regarding elections.  When I met, I discovered that we had similar passions and hopes for the student body, and our team was born.

The hardest part about campaigning is organization.  We had many, many ideas about what to include in our platforms, how to campaign, and who to talk to.  While we did a great job in most of these areas, there were still many plans that went untouched, partly because we simply ran out of time or failed to delegate responsibilities and organize ourselves with 100% efficiency (I am probably the worst offender).  Regardless, we did enough to get the “W”, and I couldn’t be prouder of our team.

HC: What was the biggest take away lesson from all of this, and what, if anything, would you go back and change?

JW: I severely underestimated the amount of time it would take to recruit our slate, plan campaign events, and prepare for debates.  I loved every minute of it, but it was very exhausting, especially with the other leadership roles I devote time to.  Some of my other commitments may have suffered as a result.  If I could change one thing, I would have had our first batch of recruits shoulder some more of the load of further recruiting and organizing events.  This is no way a slight to our team—they worked incredibly hard and often organized themselves without any direction from the execs.  But it would have been nice to have an initial group who we could have delegated power to.  Or maybe I should have hired a personal assistant. Still considering that.

HC: How did you react when you heard the news about your election? 

JW: I have probably never been more relieved in my life.  People don’t get accepted/voted into things all the time (including myself—many, many times), but I had never had so many people anticipating the outcome.  When you’re waiting for the decision on an internship application or audition, it’s just you and maybe your mom who will hear about the outcome.  But with this, a good majority of the student body knows—all my friends knew, my family knew, and that equates to a considerable amount of stress.  That is maybe a somewhat negative view of the situation, and most people say “I was prepared for either outcome,” but I really wasn’t.  I have so many plans for the University that I want see to fruition, and these positions provide such a great opportunity to do so.  To finally hear that all of our hard work had been rewarded was one of the best feelings of my life.  I think the pictures speak for themselves, but I was pretty damn excited.

HC: Why do you think the Empower party was so successful?

JW: Our team was the best. From Erin Cooper, our campaign manager, to Nick Devine, our Arts and Sciences candidate and fellow team organizer, to Carlos Velasco, our graphic designer who answered our requests for a profile picture or t-shirt design at 3 in the morning, the thank-you list goes on and on.  There is something to be said for the people who did the little things, too—those who weren’t running for a position but filled in for a booth while I ran to make an announcement at a class, or those who made an announcement at their sorority chapter meetings because they believed in what we stand for.  To me, the fact that we had this much loyalty from non-team members means a lot.

HC: What advice would you give to anyone looking to get involved in ASUN, or wanting to start their own campaign?

JW: Just go for it.  If you truly believe in making this campus a better place, and have specific ideas to do so, you need to join ASUN or run for exec.  Like I said earlier, I believe ASUN gives you the best platform to make a positive change on campus in a WIDE VARIETY of areas.  There are many committees to join to get your feet wet, and if you like it enough, you may even find yourself running for exec.  Stop in the ASUN office and talk with the staff, exec team, or anyone else—they’ll be happy to help you get involved.  You don’t want to walk across the stage at graduation and wonder “what if?”  Even if you lose an election, that is far better than not trying at all. The best quote I have to illustrate this one said by Teddy Roosevelt, the quote I live my life by:

“It is not the critic who counts; The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 

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