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Brandt, Deick look forward to good year for Senate

September 27, 2007

Student Senate was formed in order to “provide [students] with a student organization that is truly representative of the whole,” according to its Web site. Newly elected President Derek Brandt and Vice President Sara Deick have high goals this year to help Senate achieve just that through increased cooperation with students.

Brandt, now a fifth year student, started at UW-River Falls after learning that his best friend’s father completed his graduate studies at UWRF for history education, Brandt’s original major. Soon, he realized UWRF was where he wanted to stay.

“I’ve been at River Falls for all my years, even the summers,” Brandt said.

Although he didn’t previously endorse Greek life and was often quoted as saying so, he now “can’t imagine being a college student without it,” Brandt said.

As previous recreational director and current treasurer of Theta Chi, the lessons he has learned through his involvement in a fraternity have been some of the most valuable of his college career. In fact, much of his experience with governmental proceedings, such as parliamentary procedure, can even be attributed to work with his fraternity.

“It teaches you about leadership and politics…you really have people to look up to,” Brandt said. “When you actually learn about some things you were against, your whole perspective changes.”
After knowing the Senate administration for the past three years as well as having an residence assistant that was vice president for two, he felt the itch to get involved.

“It was obvious that whatever they were doing was working,” Brandt said. “There’s really something about [students involved in Senate] that you can really aspire to.”

Brandt “jumped right into” Senate, taking up a position as shared governance director during first semester last year and moved to an executive position as vice president for second semester. Now, with a year of Senate experience behind him, he said he looks forward to his term as president.

“I think it’ll be a very good year,” Brandt said.

Senate advisor Vicki Hajewski said she recently went through training with the Senate officials and is confident that it will be a good year as well.

“They’re really committed,” Hajewski said. “They have a good focus as to what the issues are.”

Deick transferred to UWRF from Bethel University two years ago and is now in her fourth year of college. After switching her major from music to political science, it was also time to switch universities.

“There’s a much better variety of political science programs [at UWRF],” Deick said.

After hearing about the opening for Senate vice president through her work with College Democrats, she decided it looked interesting and got involved. Although it’s only her first year in student government, her previous work as vice president of the United Nations Club somewhat prepared her, so it didn’t take long to move beyond initial apprehension.

“I’m still figuring out the inner-workings but I’ve really enjoyed it so far,” Deick said. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Although it may seem to some that the year has just begun, both Brandt and Deick have lofty goals for what they hope to achieve with Senate. For Deick, it’s important to “get student voices heard,” and even go beyond that, she said.

“The goal is trying to get more cooperation between parties in Student Senate and other organizations on campus,” Deick said.

For Brandt, there are two main goals: first, to breed leadership for next year; second, to work at “acting proactively toward issues instead of just reactively,” he said.

“We may set guidelines, but it’s really up to [students],” Brandt said. “We encourage them to pursue issues they care about.”

While she’s a political science major and global mapping minor when she’s in class, activities she enjoys outside of academics span a variety of interests, such as playing piano and violin, going to movies, listening to music, watching Japanese anime and reading mysteries, Deick said.

Brandt, who is pursuing a double major in history and political science, said he enjoys playing horseshoes, listening to music, and spending time with his girlfriend of one and a half years. However, like many college students, it can be difficult to find time outside of school.

“My life has become sort of enveloped with school,” Brandt said.

Basically, Brandt and Deick “are normal college students.” Hopefully, this will make students feel comfortable coming to them for anything, Deick said.

“If there are questions or concerns about anything, people shouldn’t feel apprehensive about coming to us,” Deick said.

Leadership Board and Programming Director Mike Pearson agrees. Because he joined so recently, he had to go through an interview process with Brandt and Deick. It lasted a long time, but not for bad reasons, he said.

“The fact that they interviewed me shows they’re really concerned and committed to making sure things run smoothly,” Pearson said. “They’re really personable while still being professional.”

Students are more than welcome to stop by the Senate office in the University Center as well as sit in on Senate meetings which take place 7 p.m. Tuesdays in the River Room of the University Center, Brandt said.

“We want to hear from the students, whether it’s a two-second comment or a lengthy, well-articulated complaint,” Brandt said. “The most invaluable thing we can get is student input…it’s the student input that gets stuff done.”