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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ASUA presidents reflect on their time in the top spot

    The Associated Students of the University of Arizona have a heritage of giving advice to the new president each year, commemorated by a president’s dinner held at the end of each school year. The 125th Anniversary of the UA gives past presidents a chance to look back on their time in ASUA’s top spot and offer some quick advice to the woman who currently holds the presidency.

    Pat Mitchell, 1976-77

    Getting into ASUA: “”I was planning on surviving the University of Arizona and getting a degree and figuring out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,”” Mitchell said. A student body president at Yuma High School, Mitchell’s involvement in ASUA started with the sophomore honorary Sophos and the junior honorary Chain Gang, and through some encouragement, he got onto the appropriations board, senate and eventually became the student body president.

    Memorable moments: Helping with legislation for the original student regent and eventually becoming executive director of the Arizona Students’ Association. “”We went from kind of kids to playing in the real world of politics,”” Mitchell said. “”But it’s something that you got to do if you want to have something to say.””

    Misconceptions and challenges: “”You hear this constant questioning of its relevance. People have had that question about their city government, their county government. It’s what you invest; it’s how much you care. That is what determines whether or not it works,”” Mitchell said. “”It’s not a complicated formula. It’s hard to do, but the formula is not complicated.””

    Where are they now? Lobbyist and practicing attorney in Washington, D.C.

    Advice for Fritze: “”Live it to the hilt, live it, enjoy it. You’ve got one job, which is to represent the students. Stand up to the people you have to stand up to. It’s an honor and a great privilege. Do your job well, and it will all be worth it.””

    Philip G. “”Flip”” May, 1979-80

    Getting into ASUA: “”I came down here (to the UA) because it wasn’t there (ASU).”” His friend’s injury on the intramural practice field because of bad field conditions was the impetus to get his voice into ASUA. “”I went to the student government and said, ‘You gotta be kidding me,'”” May recalled. “”Just sort of serendipity, someone resigned, and I got appointed because I was rattling the cage.””

    Memorable moments: Challenging administration on fire safety to get fire escapes installed in older residence halls like Maricopa and continuing work to improve the campus, adding the Alumni Plaza by the Administration building and the Wildcat Family statues to the UA Mall as president of the UA Alumni Association and a self-proclaimed active UA historian.

    “”Because I was in ASUA, I understood the institution better. I had a deeper understanding of the university,”” May said. “”And I am still involved with the university, helping students because once a student, always a student.””

    Misconceptions and challenges: “”The most interesting thing is that you can trace all those changes back 10 years. You just got to understand that if you do a good job, it will work,”” May said.

    Where are they now? Active with ASUA and the UA Alumni Association as well as a practicing lawyer with two children at the UA.

    Advice for Fritze: “”Don’t forget who you represent. In ASUA, one year passes awfully fast, and you have to work hard and enjoy it.””

    Francisco Aguilar, 1999-2000

    Getting into ASUA: “”I did not plan on getting into ASUA. I was born and raised in Tucson, and I thought I would go to UA, and I would focus on working,”” Aguilar said. “”My roommate forced me into running for senate. I was like, ‘You’re crazy. I would never win,’ but he was like, ‘You know everybody.’ So, I ran for senate and won and thought, ‘Oh this is fun.'”” His days in senate led him to seek the executive vice presidential seat and then the presidency before graduating in 2000.

    “”Growing up in Tucson and seeing the UA but not really understanding it, really understanding it and being the first in my family to go to college, it was really important for me — my time there. It was definitely changed by being in ASUA.

    “”It definitely opened up a lot of doors to how decisions and issues are resolved and that things aren’t handled in a vacuum. There’s a process, there’s involvement, and then trying to manage all those issues.””

    Memorable moments: His work in ASUA pushed others around him into the political sphere, such as his friend Gloria Montano.

    “”I recruited (Gloria) to be the elections commissioner, and our first battle was that they wanted to triple the price for the polling places that we were using on campus, and so Raul Grijalva at the time was working with the bookstore, and she worked with him on that, and years later, she ended up becoming his chief of staff in Washington, D.C.,”” Aguilar said.

    Misconceptions and challenges: Students not understanding the impact of ASUA, not just from year to year, but in the breadth of the college experience in general. “”Sometimes people see events they plan or they see ASUA as a clique or a group of kids that are into government, a group of future bureaucrats. But in working with the administration, (I saw that) the student voice did impact outcomes,”” Aguilar said. “”There is a real policy process that impacts every student.””

    Where are they now? Works with the Nevada Athletic Commission, which oversees Ultimate Fighting Championship in Las Vegas, and is a member of the Corporate Council for Agassi Graf Holdings and the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.

    Advice to Fritze: “”Just be as active as you can and make sure to learn from those experiences, good or bad. Always to remember that your integrity and honesty are so very important, and nothing is worth compromising any of those characteristics. Have fun, work hard, and that it’s all worth it.””

    Then and Now with Emily Fritze, 2010-11

    On presidents past: “”ASUA is really fortunate. We have a long-standing tradition of them giving advice and looking out for each new student body president that comes in,”” Fritze said. “”There are just a lot of different old student body presidents and just institutional knowledge and history to learn from.””

    She references old archives and the impact former, especially female, presidents have had on their constituencies.

    “”It’s really important to me, the opportunity I have to have such strong leaders to have come before me and allowed me to have the access and the resources I have in ASUA now, and it is really a testament to the hard work to the student leaders of the past,”” Fritze said.

    Best piece of advice: “”Well, you know, the one thing that seems obvious but it is an important piece of advice, the most important role is at all times is to represent students and present the student perspective and what students want at the time, no matter if it is unpopular with administration or with the community,”” Fritze said. “”It is really important to hear that message from them.””

    Early impressions on the job: “”I’m fortunate because I think I was really well prepared, I had a lot of older mentors, but I don’t think anything can prepare you to be student body president,”” Fritze said. “”Nothing prepares you for the schedule or anything, but also for the exciting opportunities that no other student, probably, in the university gets to do. I guess just going in with a completely open mind, but really nothing can truly prepare you for the job.””

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