Senator Hannah Van seeks SGA presidency:

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Hannah Van seeks the IU South Bend Student Government Association presidency. Photo provided by Hannah Van
Hannah Van seeks the IU South Bend Student Government Association presidency. Photo provided by Hannah Van

Student government elections right around corner

Staff Writer

Current Student Government Association (SGA) senator, Hannah Van, is running an uncontested campaign for president in the upcoming SGA elections.

Aside from Van’s executive ticket, 13 senate hopefuls are vying for 12 SGA senate seats. But although the lack of options might make some students shy away from casting a ballot, Van thinks that’s all the more reason to participate.

Van, a junior accounting student from Angola, Indiana, already has two years of SGA service under her belt. She first served as chief of staff to then president Lee Cohen in the 2013, 2014 school year. Even though she has been involved for years, Van said, it only took her going to a few SGA meetings to discover her presidential aspirations.

“I got to already have a position in the SGA my freshman year, which helped a lot, because I got involved on committees,” she said. “I always had the goal in mind to run for president. That was something – after the first couple meetings in SGA – that I decided to work towards.”

Van said she wants her legacy to be “leadership and helping others.” She looks up to philanthropists and entrepreneurs such as the Wiekamps – as in the Wiekamps of Dorothy and Darwin Wiekamp Hall. In fact, before her interview with The Preface, she just had lunch with Dorothy Wiekamp to say thank you for her generosity.

“I don’t receive any of her scholarships. I just thought it would be meaningful to have a student say thank you on behalf of the other students,” she said. “I told her, ‘I’m a senator, and on behalf of the student body, I want to thank you.’ So we go out to lunch every once in a while. That’s something I want to do some day. I want to give back.”

For the moment, Van’s goals remain broad. She mentioned few specific initiatives. But with a summer break between the elections and when she would take office, that might be necessary. One thing she does know for certain is that her main goal is to involve more students.

“I want students to know about the student government and the opportunities we have here. It’s a great resource,” she said. “I want there to be funding requests every week – students who want to do stuff. I also want next year’s elections to be contested. I want the students to have a voice through the senators. I think it’s really important to get the name out and work with the university and not against it. This is a small university, so we all have to come together. That includes staff, faculty and the chancellor.”

A big part of getting students involved, van said, is working with the administration in implementing the chancellor’s strategic plans.

“[Chancellor Terry Allison] and [Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs] Jann Joseph have great plans. They really have the students in mind,” she said. “If we just work with them, we can do amazing things.”

Van is running on a ticket with Lois Kassem for vice president. Kassem is currently SGA chief justice.

Even though the election for president is uncontested, it is still important to vote, Van said.

“Don’t forget to vote. It’s your voice,” she said. “It’s hard to get that across when it’s uncontested, but it’s important that you vote, because then you can say, ‘Hey, I voted for you to be in that position and I can hold you to your word.’”

Student government elections will be held online April 21 and 22. For more information visit

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