The newest member of the Associated Student Board of Directors, Morgan Burke will officially begin her duties as Vice President for Business and Operations on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Burke was appointed to the office after winning a special election last month that took place to fill a vacant spot after previous position holder, Hung Le, resigned. The AS Review sat down with Burke to discuss the special election process and her plans now that she’s in office.
What was your reaction when you first found out you were elected?
I was super excited. It didn’t really hit me yet because I wanted to win so badly. I just wanted to continue the work I had been doing. But when I heard I did a little happy dance. I called my boyfriend first and let him know, then I called my mom and texted a bunch of my friends and people who were helping my campaign. I was filling out my finance forms and Nic Doherty, the elections coordinator, came in to tell me. It was maybe an hour or less after [the polls closed]. I ran across the hallway to turn in my forms, ran back and said I was ready, then he told me [I won]. We gave each other a hug and it was really exciting.
How did you decide you were going to run?
It just happened. I worked on a lot of things with Hung [Le, former Vice President for Business and Operations] and I understand the organization. I know the financial structure and the nitty-gritty bits and pieces. The VP’s position is pulled away from that detail oriented stuff and is more big-picture. So with that knowledge of what I have of those little details, it makes it easier to see the big picture and which direction we need to go and what changes need to be made.
So what are you going to start working on first?
First, I’m going to move into my office and decorate it with my new office buddy, Josie Ellison [Vice President for Academic Affairs]. When I told her, she picked me up and flung me around.
A lot of the big stuff that we’re going to do is take a salary determination policy to the board. That will be a big project. We determine the base rate for all the different positions. It’s really boring, but we took every position and found different proportions to separate how much they should get paid for their salary base.
I’m working on the hospitality policy. I’ll be changing that around to include recognition of volunteers and lay out the specifics about how to purchase food and when food should be purchased for things such as event purposes. I'm also working on the Budget Center, continuing that project and helping the person who is going to be the new AS Business Director, I’ll help them with the proposal process for budget. So right now I’m working on all of the forms, the calendar and the training sessions with the student representatives. I have a list, little things here and there.
What’s it like coming onto the AS Board halfway through the year?
It’s a different dynamic because there’s already a culture that has been established and they have their own roles, they interact in their own way. When another person comes in, everything has to shift. But the people are great. They’re super understanding. They’re super welcoming. I think we’ll start off with leadership activities, icebreakers and getting-to-know-you [games].
I want to have them over to my house for dinner and have an informal hangout. I’m such an RA [Resident Advisor], I want to have one-on-one’s with each individual person to get to that relationship and understand what makes that person tick. Then when I pull it out into a professional world, I can understand why they do what they do and better support them and they can better support me.
What's different about running in a special election, as opposed to an AS Election in the spring?
It’s a lot different. You’re way more pressed for time with planning. The whole campaign [in the spring] is several weeks. My campaign was only two weeks. I was maintaining the job that I have now [AS Business Director] and still maintaining all of the special projects that I was working on, with the previous vice president, and then trying to campaign. All of that was super-stressful on top of classes. You have to make your posters super-fast, get them up super-fast and manage campaigning out in the freezing cold. The temperature makes a difference. Duct tape doesn't stick as well, it leaves residue. You're crunched for time, super-cold and people aren't as eager to help you. I think spring is a lot easier because of that.
What advice would you have for students who are running in the spring AS Elections?
Plan ahead. Prioritize. When you get stressed and overwhelmed with all the campaigning and stuff you have to do, your classes always come first. You’re a student at the end of the day. Have a campaign manager, maybe a couple. Have one who’s in charge of sign-ups for campaigning and one who’s in charge of posters.
Campaigning is important. People notice your face and they want to talk to you and interact with you. Another hard thing about the special elections is that nobody really knew it was going on. People would walk by me and say, “You’re super early!” And I would say, “No I’m not, check your email.” The joke is on you. A lot of people had some good questions. I felt like all mid-terms happened that week. That week was probably one of the hardest weeks I’ve had to deal with on top of tests. I cried a lot. That’s what got me through.