On April 9, Jameson Barreth and Wyatt DeJong were sworn in as the new president and vice president of SA, respectively, and were handed the keys by two men who couldn’t believe the time had come so soon.
One year ago, Mark York and Anthony Sutton were in the same position, beginning their leadership of one of the most important groups on campus, The Students Association (SA).
“It’s bittersweet,” York said. “There are so many things that we would both like to keep working on, but it’s kind of time.”
At York and Sutton’s first meeting with SA as president and vice president, a list of over 30 goals were handed out to the senators. The senators were told to mark the five that were most important to them. What resulted was a set of five goals that SA poured their collective focus into over the past year. The first and main goal was working to fund the Wellness Center and Performing Arts Center expansions.
Much work has been completed in that area this year. Research in coordination with the Wellness Center is being utilized to decide how to best move forward. Meanwhile Phase II of the PAC became part of the Board of Regents’ 10-year capital improvement plan.
“We kicked the ball down the path … we had very lofty goals,” Sutton said. “Now it’s up to the next group to keep it on the priority list.”
Despite their success, not every goal was met.
“It’s tough because we have learned so much and now we are done, it would be really nice to be able to apply what we learned,” York said. “But I don’t think we were unsuccessful by any means.”
The other goals on the list have also been points of pride for York and Sutton. Meeting with each active student group at least once per semester is one idea that evolved over time. Originally they tried to make it physically to one group meeting for each organization. This became difficult, so they organized an open discussion available to all students in the Bailey Rotunda.
Pushing for the creation of bike lanes was one goal that York and Sutton’s senate achieved conclusively. After a great deal of lobbying, the Brookings City Council passed a resolution to create more bike lanes around the city.
York and Sutton both said that the experience of managing SA was challenging and rewarding. York said the most difficult part of his job was motivating people.
“I expected the unexpected,” York said. “We came in with our goals … but you always have things that come up that you won’t see.”
Sutton felt managing a busy schedule and knowing how to delegate responsibilities was his largest challenge.
“It opened my eyes to what an effective leader can do to make other people better,” Sutton said.
Sutton has one year left as a political science and history double major. He is also the undergraduate representative to the Strategic Planning Committee that oversees the big picture of where the university is headed.
Mark York is graduating in May and already has plans for his short-term future. After he graduates as an agronomy and mathematics double major with a minor in chemistry, he will be taking his GRE to prepare for a graduate degree in economics.
Before starting graduate school, however, he will head to the African nation of Mozambique, for an internship on a grain and chicken farm there. Following that, he has another internship lined up for the fall in the Congo.
Both of the former leaders are facing a drastic change in their lives without SA, a change Sutton summed up with just a few words, “It’s a lot of work and then it’s done.”