Student body president takes on issues, sets example


Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Eastern was not the only school gunning for him. Playing soccer most of his life afforded him extra grants; however, he didn’t think his potential and skills were being recognized, so he transferred to Eastern last spring and became the student body president in the fall.

Reginald Thedford, the student body president, said he has always been highly involved at each institution he attended.

He said at his previous college, Elmhurst, he was the vice president of the Black Student Union and started the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter there.

“I’m just someone who likes to be involved; I like to be productive in everything I do,” Thedford said.

Thedford, who is also a political science major, said when he came to Eastern, he ran for speaker of the house because he was interested in student government.

Although he was not elected, this loss became Thedford’s biggest motivator because it led him to get more involved in activities on campus.

Eventually, he became the student affairs chair, which allowed him to help start “Blue Crew,” as well as the acting University Board movies coordinator.

Thedford said everything he has done with being a student leader on campus and making himself stand out has helped him gain the position he has now.

“With everything I did for student affairs, it showed people what I was capable of,” Thedford said.

Thedford said he didn’t like that he ran unopposed—he said he wished for more of a challenge so that his role didn’t feel as if it was just given to him.

He said running unopposed creates more pressure, because now he has to work harder to show the university he is worthy of the position.

With that experience in mind, one of the things Thedford is working to fix as student body president is the lack of participation in student government elections.

Thedford said as the student body president, he must have monthly meetings with President Bill Perry and Dan Nadler, the vice president for student affairs, as well as the North Central Association, which deals with university accreditation.

Alongside these monthly meetings, Thedford still has his normal set of classes to attend as well as help with the presidential search committee.

He said he attends a lot of these meetings in order to help make the university better, which is why he is not surprised many students are not given the chance to match the title of student body president to his face.

“All that going on and school (makes) it’s hard to make your face known on campus,” Thedford said.

Thedford said since he is allowed to sit on the presidential search committee, he and three other students are given a say in what kind of president the university should have after Perry retires, which will be June 2015.

“If students can’t relate to the president, it’s going to be a problem,” Thedford said.

Thedford is also the second African-American in 30 years to hold the position, which he said is great accomplishment that sets a positive example for African-American males on campus.

He said having an African-American represent the student body reflects positively on the university.

He said for racial minority students, this would show that they too could aspire to hold a position of leadership on campus.

He said many minority students have come up to him saying they now want to be involved in student government because they see him holding the position.

“If they don’t see it, they (may) see it (as) impossible; it gives them hope,” Thedford said.

Thedford said with his position, he has created a multicultural advisor within his presidential cabinet, a position that has been discussed multiple times and that he thinks will have a good effect on campus.

He is also in the planning stages to bring the “It’s in Us” initiative to campus, which is a campaign put in place by President Barack Obama to end sexual assault and raise awareness.

Another aspect Thedford is changing with his presidency is the presence of student government during Homecoming. He said usually they only need to be present during the parade, but now he is working to have the organization be more involved with other events such as “Yell like Hell.”

“Everything is an opportunity,” Thedford said.

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]