Vice Chair Advice on the Position

If you are considering running for State Chair or interested in what our Vice Chair does, this blog has advice from former Vice Chair’s on their year in the position. Our Vice Chair represents our students and the board’s interests in many capacities from testifying, meeting with the Chancellor, to meeting with leaders on university campuses. The advice given in this blog is from the following people listed below.

Former Vice Chair Lexi Byler | 2017-2018 academic year

Former Vice Chair Dylan Green | 2016-2017 academic year

What are the top three skills/attributes that helped you be successful?

Byler: Teamwork, communication, and listening skills are the top three things that helped me be a successful servant to the organization. 

Green: Earnestness is trait that I think all officers should have, and I certainly believe it helped me.  It is nigh impossible to be successful and to serve the students you represent without some level of sincerity.  Patience is another trait that kept me grounded and level headed.  In the grand scheme of things, your time with Students United is like being in a relay race.  You carry the baton as far as you can and pass it on to the next group so progress can continue.  You cannot achieve all that you wish in such a short amount of time.  Be patient with the process and keep things moving.  Finally, striving to be as altruistic as possible served me well.  The students themselves are what makes Students United so impactful.  Creating space for other students to lead in place of yourself allows Students United to be the changemaker we all know it is capable of being. 

How time-consuming was this position? How often were you in the cities/traveling to campuses?

Byler: One of the things I loved most about the position of Vice Chair is that it is what you make of it. I was a part-time, online student and moved to St. Paul, within walking distance to the Students United office. For those reasons, I was quite accessible and was at the office at least two times per week. The State Chair, Faical, and I decided early on that we would travel to each campus both semesters. We spent a lot of time on the road together, listening to great playlists, driving across the state to attend meetings with students, faculty, staff, and administration at each university. I also spent quite a bit of time at the MN State system office for Board of Trustees and committee meetings, as well as monthly meetings with Chancellor Malhotra. 

Green: This position can be relatively time consuming.  Due to my location in Bemidji during my term, it was difficult to make it to the cities as often as I wanted.  However, I did travel to many of the western and southern campuses.  

Were there any responsibilities you had in your officer role that you didn't think about when running?

Byler: I didn't think I would be as involved in system committees as I ended up being. Since I lived so close to both the Students United and MN State system offices, it just made sense for me to be on multiple committees. 

Green: I was a little surprised by the amount of public speaking I ended up doing.  It was not the easiest thing for me, but I came to enjoy it by the end of my term.

For students considering running what advice do you have for them?

Byler: The advice I would give anyone running for an officer position is to make sure you know what you're signing up for. Being an officer for a statewide student association is a rare opportunity. Most public institutions don't have statewide representation like we do, and in the states that do, there are even fewer that have the support of full-time professional staff members. More importantly, over 60,000 students will depend on you to amplify their voice. The role of an officer isn't to create and execute their own agenda but to act on students' needs and desires and to use the Students United platform to make informed decisions on behalf of the students of the MN State university system. 

Green: Make sure your heart is fully in it.  You need to be able to commit to running, which is difficult on its own, and serving the position to the best of your ability.  As far as campaigning goes, the best advice I can offer is to run without fear of losing.  I never applied or campaigned to be Vice Chair.  I was nominated on the floor literally 5 minutes before the rounds of questions for the candidates began.  It ended up being an advantage for me because, without prepared answers, I could provide answers with honesty and passion.  Be sincere and run with everything you have, but never let fear of losing prevent you from being your authentic self.  

What was your favorite part about being a Students United (MSUSA) officer?

Byler: It's incredibly difficult to choose one favorite thing about being a Students United officer. I loved so many different aspects of my role as Vice Chair. If I must, I would choose the delegates conferences because this is where students, staff, and administrators come together to discuss and share ideas that will help make the MN State student experience better. These conferences are where the foundation of the organization lies, in the hands of students - which is exactly where it belongs. Countless Students United accomplishments can be traced back to a single motion, conversation, or idea that was sparked at a delegates conference. Bringing students together is the root and heart of the organization. 

Green: Chairing the delegates assembly was always a blast.  Joe Wolf and Sean Duckworth, the other officers I served with, made it fun and easy to get things done.  Getting relevant and sometimes strange advice from the legendary John Hermann is something I will always cherish.   And, of course, the students I met along the way.  They forever changed me for the better.

Aly Hagglund