New Student Leaders Elected on Platform to Increase Campus Spirit
May 5, 2014
Student Goverment president Brooke Knudtson says Student Government representatives need to be intentional about engaging with international and graduate students.
UT Dallas students recently elected a new administration for Student Government, choosing a ticket that has pledged to focus on “building bridges” to help improve campus spirit, traditions and community.
Newly elected president Brooke Knudtson and vice president Nancy Fairbank drew a record voting turnout with their three-pronged pledge: to encourage more campus spirit, engage the campus community and establish more traditions.
“I’m a cheerleader, so I know the lack of spirit here,” said Knudtson, a political science sophomore. “If we could replicate the attendance we had at the NCAA Division III tournament games, everyone would know about the Comets, and not just the (UT Austin) Longhorns.”
The pair said they wanted to focus on enhancing relationships between undergraduates and graduate students, international and local students, and the city of Richardson and the campus.
Knudtson said Student Government representatives need to be intentional about engaging with international and graduate students who might not feel as engaged with the campus as are local undergraduates.
“We can’t just say, ‘Come to us with your issues.’ We have to go to them,” Knudtson said.
Fairbank, a political science freshman and McDermott Scholar, sees her new role as a way to have an impact on the entire campus.
Nancy Fairbank, Student Government vice president, wants to expand the campus' traditions and food offerings.
“Being interested in a law career, I wanted to serve in a legislative body, not a programming body. I’m comfortable going up to any student on campus,” said Fairbank, whose brother Nate was Student Government vice president in 2012-13.
Knudtson brings legislative experience from high school in Amarillo, where she was on the student council and served as president her senior year.
A self-described “go-getter,” Knudtson has also served the UT Dallas community as technology committee chair for Student Government, chief recruitment officer for Kappa Alpha Theta, public relations director for the John Marshall Pre-Law Society, a delegate for Model United Nations, a member of the discipline committee and a college mentor for high school students.
“This was next in the chain of command,” Knudtson said of her role as president. “Student Government is one place you can actually see change happen, and I felt Nancy and I could accomplish great things. I love seeing students become more involved on campus.”
Fairbank was appointed last fall as a member of the Student Government legislative affairs committee.
“I want to help make change at the University-wide level,” Fairbank said. “This is a pivotal time in the University’s history. The amount of expansion has been amazing.”
Fairbank has been a delegate for Model United Nations, president and founder of the upcoming No Labels chapter — a nonpartisan political organization — and a member of the John Marshall Pre-Law Society, the Undergraduate Dean’s Advisory Council, the McDermott Advisory Council, and the women’s campus group L.O.V.E. She also participates in Ultimate Frisbee and intramural sports.
“I want to help make change at the University-wide level. This is a pivotal time in the University’s history. The amount of expansion has been amazing.”
Both plan to go to law school after earning their bachelor degrees at UT Dallas.
Fairbank wants to practice corporate and international law, while doing pro bono work to fight teenage homelessness. She hopes to segue into a political career someday.
“I’ve always been a little ambitious. I think being an ambassador someday would be wonderful because I love to travel and meet people,” Fairbank said.
But first, they plan to make a difference on the campus of UT Dallas. Their agenda includes increasing the number of campus traditions, expanding food options by getting appetizers on the menu in The Pub and more vegetarian food choices in the Comet Café, and expanding operating hours at the Eugene McDermott Library.
And, of course, spurring on all Comets to show more campus spirit.
“I’d like to mandate that all Student Government senators are required to attend all Comet home games. If even they each brought a friend, we’d be able to build attendance and have a lot more campus spirit at the games,” Knudtson said.