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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NU students weigh costs of leadership

Every week, SESP junior Jess Klein spends 20 hours downtown working for Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, a routine she began last September. Next month, she might launch a presidential campaign of her own – one that could make her Northwestern’s next Associated Student Government president.

But Klein, who takes a full class schedule, commits 20 hours a week to Obama’s campaign and stays involved with the Northwestern Class Alliance, Dance Marathon and a sorority, says she may have to forgo many of her current activities in order to take on the full responsibility of a campus leader.

“I realize that being ASG president is a 100-percent time commitment,” Klein said. “If not even just in terms of what I’m doing physically – being in Norris, running meetings, doing things on campus – mentally that has to be where I’m thinking and what I’m thinking about at all times.”

For many rising upperclassmen like Klein, the end of Winter Quarter is the time to decide whether to take on a campus leadership position. But the sacrifices and demanding time schedules that accompany an executive role often temper even a strong passion to lead a large organization.

The result is inevitably a trade-off.

“Don’t do it if you’re not completely committed to the organization and willing to sacrifice a lot of time,” Dance Marathon Executive co-Chairwoman Krysta Kauble said. “You need to pick something that you’re passionate enough about that those sacrifices are just going to be inconsequential to you – that you won’t look at them like a sacrifice.”

Both Kauble and co-Chairwoman Tara Corrigan bought special phones that allow them to check e-mail, memorized one another’s schedules, self-mandated six office hours a week and often don’t leave their Norris office until 8 p.m.

Like Kauble and Corrigan, Klein wants to lead ASG because of her passion for the organization. Out of all the major student groups on campus, Klein said she believes ASG represents the body that links all of them.

“I feel like in terms of having an impact on Northwestern life, and giving back as much as I can to the school, that ASG is definitely the way to do that,” Klein said.

Klein said that because she will need to mediate between different groups on campus as president, she believes it’s important not to have personal affiliations with particular student groups.

“In terms of valuing those student groups, they’ll still be something that I have on my mind,” Klein said. “But in terms of actual personal involvement, in terms of the time commitment, I probably will not be able to participate.”

McCormick senior Bryan Cowan also aspires to be a campus leader next year. He hopes to be A&O Productions chairman or Mayfest co-chairman, both groups with which he’s involved.

A dual-degree engineering major, Cowan’s passion for A&O comes from his love of music and productions. He sees his role as a leader as someone who can connect every student, regardless of major, to the organization.

“I think there’s a big divide between especially engineers and theater majors,” Cowan said. “I try to break down that divide and be friends with everyone.”

In order to take on such leadership responsibilities, Cowan said running a large organization takes serious time management.

“I have a schedule pretty much of like a month in advance in which all of my meetings are written down,” said Cowan, who averages two classes and two meetings a day. “I had no time management in high school whatsoever, and then freshman year I was almost in shambles, but now it’s kind of second nature. I have a very rigid schedule.”

Like Cowan, Weinberg junior Rachel Weber plans to apply for A&O chairwoman. She first discovered A&O freshman year and has been a part of the production group ever since.

Though Weber dedicated time to Mayfest in the past, Weber said she decided to dedicate her full attention to A&O this year and plans to make it her main extracurricular activity next year.

After transitioning from a general board member to a committee member to a committee co-director, Weber said the move to apply for A&O chairwoman felt natural.

Weber said. “I kind of feel like I can handle a little bit more responsibility.”

While Cowan and Weber are sure they will run for A&O chairs, Klein is still weighing her decision.

“I’m giving myself until after Super Tuesday, ” Klein said of her decision on whether to run. “I’m making my decision hopefully after America makes their decision on a presidential candidate.”

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
NU students weigh costs of leadership