The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

98° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Q&A with your new student body president, Sydney Hess

Courtesy Sydney Hess

The Daily Wildcat sat down with the Associated Students of the University of Arizona’s president elect, junior Sydney Hess, to discuss her experience during the campaign and what she is expecting next year. The interview has been slightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Daily Wildcat: What made you initially want to run for student body president?

Sydney Hess: So, as a first generation Pell Grant-eligible student, I truly thought I would never have this experience. I didn’t even know if college was a possibility when I first came here. But honestly, UA has just given me so much, so many opportunities I never thought I would have been granted previously, and honestly, I just want to give back. I care a lot about the student experience and ensuring everyone is getting the best out of their education, and if I can make that better in any way, shape or form, I want to be a part of that. 

DW: What went through your mind when you found out you would be running unopposed?

SH: To be honest, I was a little disappointed. I’m a competitive person, and I think it lights a fire within you I don’t think running unopposed does, but honestly it was kind of relieving, too. I want to do the best job I can, and I feel I can do that in this capacity. It was definitely a mix of emotions, but I think it was exciting, too. Knowing I was going to potentially be granted this opportunity to serve was really great, but also I felt a little in over my head. I had a meeting with Natalynn [Masters, current ASUA president] probably a week prior to submitting my paperwork, so she gave me a little more insight, but I felt in over my head. You know, Natalynn, I just feel like she knows everything. And obviously I have a lot of growth to do. It was kind of scary, too. It was a mix of emotions.

          RELATED: ASUA election results are in: Meet your new student body government

DW: What advice did Natalynn Masters give you?

SH: I think the biggest one was: If you’re not seeking out this opportunity to actually help students, and you’re seeking it out as a resume builder, then you’re not in the right place. I think the biggest thing, too, was you’re provided with a platform, and you’re here to serve students. It’s about what the students want and how it can impact them. And I think that was really eye-opening for me. hinking about one question you have to hold at the tip of your head for the next year is really interesting. I think that was something I am looking forward to doing, walking into a meeting and really having students at the forefront of my mind.

DW: You and Kate Rosenstengel [current administrative vice president who was re-elected in this election] have a lot of experience working on the same teams. [Hess is currently Rosenstengel’s chief of staff.] How do you think that pre-existing relationship will affect your work together in executive positions?

SH: I think it’s going to help immensely. I feel like sometimes we’re so on the same page it’s weird. I think working as her right hand man, I know how she processes things. I know her strengths are my weaknesses, and my strengths are her weaknesses, and I think that’s something extremely valuable when we’re working as a team. I’m definitely more of the confrontational one, and I think I pushed her to be more confrontational. And I think sometimes she allowed me to take a step back and realize the bigger picture. She’s more of the visionary, I think, and I think that that’s great, especially working in this next year. I think it’s important the people you work with are friends, and we all get along. And I think that’s the way we’re going to accomplish most of our goals. We know we have a similar vision and a similar way of getting to that vision. 

          RELATED: ASUA again reckons with low student interest

DW: You have said one day you want to work in city government. One of your platforms is community and civic engagement, and you’ve proposed the creation of a new position to act as a liaison between UA and Tucson city government. What would you like to see this position accomplish?

SH: So right now, there’s a policy director within ASUA, and they’re in charge of ensuring that we, as ASUA, are informed about policy issues happening at the federal, state and even local legislative [level]. They’re also a part of important initiatives, like getting students to vote in upcoming elections, things like that. However, I think there’s kind of a disconnect between UA and the Tucson community. I also think that it’s important, because we are going to get a new mayor of Tucson [in November 2019], to really build those connections to ensure students’ priorities and students’ needs are being heard. Because we’re such a large part of the Tucson community and because the Tucson community is such a large part of UA, I think it’s important we do build those connections. I think in introducing this new director position, the current policy director can really hone in on state and federal legislatures and really talk about those policy issues.

DW: What are you most looking forward to in your role as student body president?

SH: I think the people I’ll meet. I think we, as students, we found our niches on campus. I’m excited to really learn from students across campus what it means to be a Wildcat, and I think that learning about their stories and learning how their student experience has impacted them, I think I’m really excited to learn how I can better help them. I think I have the capacity in this position to really make a difference and to really focus on things that maybe haven’t been done before. And I think that’s what I’m most excited about is really helping those students [whose] voices have been silenced previously and just learning from them as a student leader, as a person, as a human being. I think I’m just excited to gain a new appreciation and a new understanding of what it means to be a Wildcat. 

Follow Vanessa Ontiveros on Twitter

More to Discover
Activate Search