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An affinity for social change

July 7, 2008
An affinity for social change. A dedication to activism and aiming for real change in the world has been a characteristic of student leadership on campus for decades.

Saying yes to life’s opportunities, fighting for what you believe in, avoiding the tyranny of the majority and standing up for what’s right – that’s the collective advice that four former student body presidents have for today’s students.

Students today are as dedicated as ever to social justice. It’s environmental sustainability that is their prime cause.

“I had no political aspirations, nor grand strategic goal,” said Laurie Soine ’88. But when the opportunity to run for president presented itself, “I mustered the courage to say ‘yes.’ The amazing year that ensued taught me that simply saying ‘yes’ to the opportunities that life offers often results in the most unforeseen adventures.”

When seizing these opportunities, students should believe in the power of their convictions, said Martha (Miller) Ward ’77. “Fight for what you believe is best for students,” she said. When she was in ASPLU, Ward said, “we were able to work with Student Life to make birth control available at the Student Health Center.

“If you do not act, who will?”

Personal interaction, collaboration and compromise were the lessons that David C. Wold ’56 took from his days as an ASPLC officer. He distinctly recalls the importance of “working with groups holding varying viewpoints and gaining the ability to guide them toward a workable solution to problems.

“I learned how to conduct a meeting that allows all to participate and keeps a small minority from tyrannizing the majority,” he said.

Wold advises current ASPLU leaders to, “Listen carefully to your constituency; don’t make promises you can’t keep, and don’t take yourselves too seriously.”

“Be an advocate for people,” is the advice that Susan (Carnine) Hecker ’03 has for ASPLU officers. “That should be your number-one priority in student government, just as it is in my profession, medicine.

“The best course of action is often the hardest to take,” Hecker said. “Keep the interests of our fellow students as your first priority and don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right, even if it’s not the ‘political’ thing to do. Action will always trump appearance. Know that what you do or don’t do today really will impact both current and future students.”

Today students are “greening” the campus and ASPLU is leading the way. “My goal was not to do a lot of big programming but instead keep at all of the small things that will get people into sustainable habits that can make a big difference,” Tamara Power-Drutis ’08, ASPLU vice president said in 2007.

Power-Drutis had been focusing on leadership development and how campus leaders, ASPLU, resident assistants and the Diversity Center can all model sustainable lifestyles.

“We are working on a student pledge where students can focus on those portions of their life that waste energy, water and recycling, composting food, transportation. By focusing on those areas we can get first-years to create a sustainable lifestyle and get in that habit right away,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with former student leaders at Homecoming to learn about the issues that were important then, in particular how long sustainability has been a student concern at PLU,” Power-Drutis said.

“I’d also like to challenge them to see what we are doing on campus in environmental sustainability and then join us in incorporating those practices into their daily lives.”

4 ASPLU Presidents

Laurie Soine ’88 lives in Shoreline, Wash. She is an adult and acute care nurse practitioner in nuclear cardiology at the University of Washington Medical Center and is a teaching associate in the Department of Radiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Martha (Miller) Ward ’77 lives in Seattle. She is a senior vice president in the financial services industry.

David C. Wold ’56 lives in Tacoma. He is a retired Bishop of the Southwestern Washington Synod of the ELCA.

Susan (Carnine) Hecker ’03 lives in Salt Lake City. She is a physician in her first year of residency training at the University of Utah.