By Sam Bruns
Earlier this month, Junior Steve Smrt was elected president of North Park’s Student Government Administration (SGA) in a landslide victory. Smrt, along with his Vice President Daniela Mansour, has begun hastily preparing for the next school year. A team of students is being assembled for their executive committee while the elects brainstorm new events and policies that will be presented to the student body.
The two are indeed an interesting pair. Only in her freshman year, Mansour has already made a big impact in the SGA, joining several committees and being the biggest proponent for a new student parking lot, which North Park Administration has now approved. She takes great pride in who she is as a young woman: Syrian, Christian, and a voice for the commuter population. Whatever Mansour has not already done in her first year as a student, Smrt has done in three. He’s a Golden Apple Scholar, an RA, a writing advisor, a former student athlete and will begin student teaching in the fall.
Smrt and Mansour reflect the changing nature of North Park’s undergraduate population, and I had the pleasure of speaking to the two of them about their plans, the role of student government and where North Park community begins.
Samuel Bruns: You guys won! Now what?
Steve Smrt: Where to begin? I think obviously our first task is getting our own house in order. I’ve been in contact with the reps and will be in contact with the senators to make sure that they are ready to get the ball rolling. Daniela and I are holding interviews for our executive committee positions. So secretary, treasurer, chief justice and communications director.
SB: With those positions in mind, what drove the two of you to run together?
Daniella Mansour: Well, I wanted to continue in student government, but I didn’t know in what position. So, as a senator I felt that there was this kind of line between the executive committee and senators this year that I didn’t want. When Steve was like “I’m running for president” and asked if I wanted to run with him I thought we’d be a great team together.
SS: And in regards to the senate I think change can be made, but it takes at least two people who have served in the senate and know how the senate works. In regards to choosing Daniela, I think she’s a very qualified candidate. I surprised a lot of people by choosing an underclassman, but she’s very qualified. She and I are both very different, but can work together very well. Daniela, as a commuter would you say that up to this point commuters have or have not been fairly represented?
DM: I think this year it was better represented because it was something I worked for and the commuter club president worked for it. They were represented better then I think they’d been in the past.
SS: To help answer this question, I think historically in SGA is that commuters haven’t been represented. It’s something that I and Issac Bauer [the current Vice President of SGA] have joked about is that the election used to be a Covenant beauty pageant. I’m not trying to offend anyone, but at the same time you had a very small group of people on campus who were very tight as a whole. So one thing I’ll be very passionate about this year is working along side those people that want to be involved but almost don’t know how to be.
SB: So then, what are those passions you want to use next year? If Daniela wants to speak for commuters, then what about you, Steve?
SS: The people that have an apathetic view of being involved at North Park. Apathy toward having a student or apathy towards school pride. Involvement should be both on campus and in our community and within our city. North Park now has a larger commuter population. A lot of them come to school, take classes and go home. There isn’t that big of a sense of community, and I think that’s where the Student Union would help. We want to build a community and make places, and not just let people become content in their little groups.