Welcome New PLU Families!My name is Alexis Ballinger and I am honored to serve as the President of the Associated Students of Pacific Lutheran University. I was born and raised in Moses Lake, Wash. where I attended high school and graduated in 2008.
Since the 3rd grade, I’d had a dream to play Division I college softball. After many years of hard work and dedication my dream became a reality. Early in my senior year, I signed a letter to play at Towson University in Maryland. But, later that year I decided I wanted more out of my college experience than playing softball.
After visiting many other universities, I realized that PLU felt like home and seemed to be the place that would offer me the most other opportunities away from “the baseball diamond”. I have a lot of PLU family history. My parents are both PLU alumni, and my only brother will graduate this year. I guess you could call it a family affair.
I have grown tremendously from the experiences I have had my first two years on campus. During my freshman year I received a “blessing in disguise”. While playing softball, I broke my foot. I was devastated, but not being able to play gave me more opportunity to go out and explore other co-curricular options. I got involved in ASPLU by becoming a senator - and fell in love with it. Truthfully, my broken foot is probably the reason I am involved in ASPLU today.
Last year I was able to serve as a Resident Assistant in Foss Hall. Between the wing events and late night “walk-throughs” I learned how to put out small fires and offer comfort in times of need.
Part of attending PLU is embracing diversity. Last January I was able to travel to Dubai and experience a different culture first hand. During our stay, we were able to visit the American University of Sharjah, where we met and compared our experiences with other students our age. The students couldn’t believe the freedom we have here in America. To further my cultural experiences I will travel to New Zealand this J-term, backpacking and tramping through the tracks.
Labor Day weekend was a busy weekend for our ASPLU team. We had just completed the Student Leadership Institute and our own four day training session when we dove into orientation and welcome weekend for new students. This year we were able to make a commitment to be more present during opening weekend and to help other organizations around campus when needed.
We were also able to serve the incoming students and their families during a variety of activities including the ice cream social, Lute Lunch, Lutes at Play and sand volleyball tournament. Our presence also allowed us to start making connections with all the new students and to get our name out there.
Our annual kick off dance, under the theme of “Sunglasses at Night”, was a huge success. The Cave was filled to capacity throughout the event and resulted in a positive first experience for many new students.
We have designated this year to be a rebuilding year, and in doing so have rewritten our mission statement to read “ASPLU strives to be a unified organization committed to positively advocating for the student body through purposeful service, innovative programs and initiatives, and community oriented collaboration.” Our hope is that this statement will serve as the foundation for many years of progress to come.
One of ASPLU’s goals this year is to create and strengthen the non-programming components of ASPLU. We want to be known for more than our successful dances. Throughout the year, we will have other campaigns that we can be proud of. For example, our “take back the tap” campaign promotes the use of reusable water bottles as an environmentally-friendly substitute for disposable bottles.
We would also like to make every avenue of ASPLU welcoming to all, by insuring our door is always open to listen to student’s opinions and that our entire team is approachable to students. Our job as the representation of the student body is to advocate for the needs and wants of the students and we plan to do exactly that. We are trying to do this by having events and activities that are fun for everyone on campus, not just for a specific group. Another goal we have this year is to merge ASPLU and the student body into one entity. We want the student body to feel as if they are ASPLU, instead of having a separate body represent them.
We also have committed to support PLU2020. Since this is a writing year we will be actively recruiting students to contribute to the student opinion portion of the document.
We know we have set some lofty goals, but Adam, ASPLU vice president, and I are very excited about the team we have the privilege of working with this year. Everyone is hard working and is on board to help accomplish our goals. We hope the foundation we set this year will continue to grow for years to come.