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Meet G'town student body president Calen Angert

Jenna Johnson

Calen Angert is the student body president at Georgetown University. This semester he and his vice president, Jason Kluger, decided to run for a second term -- and won. "We wanted to finish what we started and see our initiatives through for another year," Calen said. "I think we're in a great position to do a lot for the students, especially considering that our lead time to begin working is negligible."

Despite the craziness of the campaign season (and the rigor of being a Georgetown student), Calen took time to answer some questions.

calen angert.jpgHow did you get into student government?
I was actually just looking for something to get involved in. I wasn't a member of student government in high school, so I didn't really have any point of reference. I asked a few of my friends about some organizations, and student government just kind of surfaced. As a freshman, I was directed toward one of the candidates who was running for president, and I decided to assist him in managing his campaign for the freshman vote. Once he was elected, I served on his executive [team] as secretary of student life. Later, in my sophomore year, I was elected as a senator. In that same year, I ran for my first term as [Georgetown University Student Association] president.

Favorite Georgetown bar?
I'm a huge fan of Saloun - you never know what you're going to find when you go in there.

Favorite way to caffeinate?
I actually don't caffeinate -- I try to wake up with a shower and two glasses of cold water. It usually does the trick.

How much sleep do you usually get?
Too little, haha. I'm fully operable on 4 hours -- anything less and my productivity suffers.

What's allowed and not allowed on your Facebook profile?
Instead of creating an exhaustive list, I tend to moderate it by one principle: don't put up something overly stupid. I think it's working thus far.

What's your best time management trick?
Try to schedule things right in a row. Any time lapses in a schedule (at least mine) hardly lead to work getting done. Short breaks are okay, but an hour or two hour time lapse are never beneficial.

When's the last time you pulled an all-nighter?
Last week. I usually do one or two a week.

On many campuses, many students feel like their student government is powerless and doesn't do much. How do you respond to comments like that?
My immediate response would be that students have to be realistic in their expectations. However, with that in mind, I think we've done a fair amount to affect students' lives. We provided free housing for students with unpaid internships in the D.C. area, put 50 students through an LSAT familiarization course which would have cost each individual around $2,000, and recently restructured the entire funding process.

Student government now allocates around $350,000 annually for student activities. I think many students don't see the immediate role of student government because a lot of the work is done "behind the scenes." For instance, student clubs receive money from an advisory board, but GUSA allocates money to that advisory board.

What's the biggest lesson you learned during your term as president?
The biggest lesson I've learned is never to take "no" as a final answer. Even when situations seem impossible, it's important to face them head on.

What issues are Georgetown students most passionate about right now?
I think Georgetown students are passionate about a huge variety of issues -- that's why so many different groups and student organizations exist. A great aspect of Georgetown is its active student body. In terms of students' interest in GUSA, I think the funding reform which has recently been enacted has raised some awareness. We're excited to have streamlined the funding process and can't wait to increase funding to student groups.

Explain how you are shaking up how student clubs are funded.
Well, I don't think we're really "shaking" anything up at all -- we're simply catching up to just about every other university. As it existed until very recently, a funding board of 13 members (seven GUSA senators, six advisory boards, and the administrative advisers to each of the funding boards) would determine the annual allocation of the student activities fee (the $350,000 referenced above) in a single meeting or two. This bloated board consisted of both elected, and non-elected, students.

We've simply reduced the funding process to seven GUSA Senators (all of whom are elected) who meet on a weekly basis. In essence, the process is now more streamlined, effective and able to respond to the wants of students.

What advice do you have for students on other campuses who are launching student government campaigns?
Make sure your heart and head are in the right place, and tell the truth.

What's the best way to get to know your fellow student government members?
E-mail them or call them. Anyone I know who is involved with student government would love to meet and talk about current issues and future initiatives.

How do you handle student government drama and personality clashes?
In terms of drama, we don't really have it because it's not really tolerated. Do your job, do it well, and we can all improve the student experience. You really have to try and stay above the fray. As for personality clashes, I try and accommodate it as much as possible by pairing up people who work well together. In the off-chance that doesn't happen, there's still an expectation that the work will get done. Simple as that.

How do you remember all of the names of students, faculty members, administrators and all of the other people you get to meet through your position?
This is a good question -- a buddy system works well here. I make sure to attend all major meetings with a friend so that there's always a point of reference for later.

What's your relationship like with campus media?
I think my relationship with the campus media is characterized by respect. They try to remain as unbiased as possible, which inevitably means I like some of the stories they write, and I hate some of the stories they write. I respect the job they do, and I expect them to realize when we've done a good job and when we haven't.

How did you end up at Georgetown?
I ended up at Georgetown because it was near a city, but not in one. No other school I visited struck such a perfect balance of student life which could, but didn't have to, extend beyond the campus limits.

What was your favorite admissions essay about?
I wrote an essay about how I wrecked my car and then fixed/repainted it myself so my dad wouldn't kill me. The incident actually happened about two weeks before I started writing my essays. Prior to this experience, I had zero experience with automotive repair.

What's the best class you have taken at Georgetown?
I took a course called International Business in my freshman year with a professor named Charles Skuba. He brought in several guest speakers who he had interacted with (he was a presidential appointee in the US Trade and Development Agency under the Bush administration), and they were some of the most interesting people I'd ever met. I actually interned for one of them during my freshman summer.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I know you're referencing a job title, but I gauge it by emotion. If I'm not happy, then it's time to move on. When I find a job that satisfies me, I think I'll be able to answer this question more fully.

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By Jenna Johnson  |  March 19, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Student Government  | Tags: Georgetown  
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"How did you end up at Georgetown?
I ended up at Georgetown because it was near a city, but not in one."

Perhaps Mr. Angert doesn't realize that GU is fully inside the District of Columbia, which I believe most people categorize as "a city." Perhaps he meant that the university is in a quieter part of town and thus feels less urban.

Posted by: srchanin | March 19, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

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