Joe Zach, president of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, said after the ASUN presidential elections last year, he could see himself taking over for former president Spencer Hartman.
“At that point, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I’m going to do this.’ It was, ‘You know, I’m not going to rule this out; this is something I should consider,’” Zach said. “I’d had conversations with friends and other people that were involved in different capacities [within ASUN].”
They encouraged Zach to consider running for president, and eventually Zach said if he found strong people to run with, it was definitely something he could do.
“It’s not a job that one person can certainly do on their own, or should want to,” Zach said.
But after finding two capable students, junior economics and global studies major Ayat Aribi and junior economics major Camille Sippel, Zach knew he could run for president.
Zach, a junior accounting and finance double major, said there are certainly parts of his presidency that will cause him to look back to what he learned during his university education, whether it is managing people or dealing with any crises that may arise.
Zach said from a leadership development aspect, being president of ASUN will help him network by meeting with different people on campus and in the community.
One of the biggest issues Zach said he and ASUN will have to discuss is the rising cost of university fees for students.
“It’s likely going to hit us soon here in Nebraska,” Zach said. “What can we do to kind of work around some of these issues?”
For Zach and others in ASUN, that work may just be continuing conversations with people in the legislature to show what an impact the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has on the state and looking at new ways to save students money.
One way to save money, Zach said, is looking into alternative options for textbooks. That may entail looking at other universities to see how they handle the issue and talking to the University Bookstore to form better relationships with publishers.
Zach said he had experience working with Hartman, who prepared him for what to expect during his presidency. While Zach did not elaborate upon the differences between him and Hartman, he said he will lead things differently in his presidency, simply because he leads and interacts with people differently. Being involved in student council and other student organizations in high school prepared Zach for being a part of ASUN.
Zach said when he came to UNL, he wasn’t searching for a position with power or authority, but rather he was looking for any way to be involved in student government.
“[I came] more from the standpoint of getting to meet people at first,” Zach said. “Then it became, ‘What can we do to make the academic and school experience for students on campus as best as we can? It really just turned into representing the student body.”
Internal vice president Sippel said she has known Zach in a variety of situations, from having honors classes with him to working alongside him in the lead-up to ASUN elections. She said Zach is open to listening to people, as well as being the calm in the storm.
“Ayat and I are kind of the grandkids and Joe is the grandpa who keeps everything in check,” Sippel said.
Sippel said Zach is a good listener and knows how to handle conflict. She also said she is excited to work with Zach as they have already spent time together in senate and know how the other operates.
“For him, the best way to handle conflict is by sitting down and dealing with it one on one,” Sippel said.
Zach anticipates the workload within ASUN will vary. For example, the season right after the ASUN elections is incredibly busy because of interviews and meeting with student groups on campus. Going into the next school year, Zach said there are meetings to go to and presentations to give, but like any manager or leader, he said he will learn to divide his time.
“Camille always says, ‘It’s what you make of it with your time,’” he said. “What you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it, and I really hope to get a lot out, so if that means putting in a little bit of time, then I’m sure I’ll be okay.”