My journey toward being elected student body president at Utah Valley University (UVU) this past semester has been unique. As a non-traditional student, I have a wife and 10 month old little boy at home, but knew that a large majority of students here at UVU mirrored my situation and had little to no representation within UVUSA.
My current career goals are to get hired at a university with hopes that I will eventually end up in an administrative role, so when evaluating the job and networking opportunity that I would gain through being involved with student government, I decided this would be a good thing for my future and for my ﬁnal year attending this university. When assessing the beginning stages of this campaign, I realized I was at a slight disadvantage. With a two-year LDS mission, getting married and having my ﬁrst little boy, I hadn’t taken the time to become involved with UVUSA previously. I was involved with student leadership in high school and had a really good experience, I then got hired on as a UVU presidential intern with the Chief of Staff of the university for this past year and realized all of the opportunities available to students who wanted to be involved and got really excited about the aspect of running.
I knew a few other candidates, as they were also interns and knew that they had been involved since their freshman year. I knew it would be a tough competition, but I was invested enough, I was okay with the challenge. I knew that I hadn’t been as involved previously like my opponents. I was surprised how much thought and planning went into posters and marketing, yet if I wanted to have a shot I needed a good ground game strategy. I knew that I most likely would not be getting the votes of those who were more involved and therefore, needed to reach out to students who normally didn’t vote.
When the election days came, I had shifts of friends and family at the ready to wear brightly colored shirts and encourage students to vote. I used many different tactics including coupons and cookies to encourage voting. I also tried to appeal to as many people personally as possible by noticing whether they were married with children or involved with the university in any aspect. I played basketball and danced for 15 years which allows me to relate with a wide variety of students. I also put in as much time as possible those three days. With all of these different running strategies I believe by reaching out to students on a personal level, the word was spread that I really cared about my campaign and was willing to truly accomplish what I said I would.
One thing the international students brought up were the working conditions of being a student, yet not a citizen. They wanted me to be aware of the importance of having on campus jobs because they are unable to work at the places off campus. I want to keep that in mind as I serve throughout this next year. I want to make sure they have the resources they need to be successful and be able to support themselves while striving to get the best education possible, as well as know what direction to point them in when they have questions.
I am looking forward to this opportunity to help better my school, my community and the students and faculty of UVU this upcoming year.
Rob Smith, President, Utah Valley University Student Body, and member, Utah International Mountain Forum