By John Hulstine
Daniel Gaines is the current Student Body Senate Chair for AU’s Student Government Association. He is a junior majoring in national security, political science, history and mathematics, and he is involved with two honors societies.
Where are you from and why did you decide to come to AU?
I was actually born and raised in Anderson, and I knew I had two choices of colleges when I got out of high school. I was almost dead-set on Indiana Wesleyan University, but my mom convinced me that I should at least visit AU before I made my choice. I visited each college three times and I decided AU was best for me.
What is your favorite part of your job in SGA?
One of my favorite parts of the job is connecting with the senators, because they are from all across campus and are of very different backgrounds. I especially like promoting the student experience by funding clubs and by addressing the concerns of the student body.
Tell me about SGA’s goals this year.
SGA has a variety of goals this year, and one of these is helping new students feel welcome. I’m glad that all the new students are here, and I want them to know that SGA will do everything it can to improve their experience. I would also like to encourage everyone to get involved with the community. Join SGA or try out some of the social clubs that are around.
What would you tell students who are interested in becoming the next SGA Senate Chair?
In April, SGA holds Senate chair elections. You have to meet the requirements of having good standing with the university, and have a decent grade point average. You also have be a senator for at least two semesters prior to running. When I was nominated unanimously by my senate peers, it was an honor because there were plenty of other candidates.
What is the process involved in addressing the concerns of the students?
Depending on what issue is being addressed, SGA has five different standing committees that meet biweekly. These include ITS, security, the Physical Plant, Food Services and the Department of Student Life.
Everyone should also know that you can wave me down in the hall if you need to talk to me, though you may not know what I look like. You can also send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always recommend stopping by our offices found in the basement of Olt Student Center. Feel free to come by and just talk to us. Our door is often open when we are around.
How does SGA plan to implement President Rebecca Peach’s plans to create a greener and more environmentally friendly campus?
SGA would like to increase the available recycling bins across campus, and so far we have provided the Physical Plant with a list of locations that need recycling, but the fulfillment of this promise is contingent on the Physical Plant’s follow-through.
How does SGA hope to maintain a relationship of integrity and honesty with the student body?
The number one issue in the past has always been transparency, and that will always be a central concern for the future. Currently, this SGA administration doesn’t struggle with transparency. All of us have been working very hard on maintaining the value of transparency, and I am excited to work with this fresh new group of people and ideas.
Seeing as you are a representative of the student body, what else are you working on while being a student at AU?
I’m trying to accomplish a lot right now. Currently, I don’t have any minors, but I am pursuing four separate majors: national security, political science, history and mathematics.
What are your spiritual aspirations for this upcoming year? What would you like to see for yourself and your fellow students?
I hope we can all grow, not only in what we do as individuals, but also in how we as professionals interact with one another and find a way to serve and honor God.
What did you do over the summer? Did you get any interesting internships or job opportunities?
I was very fortunate to have been accepted to an internship at the U.S. Senate, and I got to work under Indiana’s new senator, Mike Braun. I enjoyed observing the process and interacting with constituents over email and telephone.
How was being an intern in Washington D.C.?
We live in an incredibly polarized time, but when I was over there it was actually pretty calm. I think cable news can sometimes generalize too much. I got to speak to some of the members of Congress, and instead of being angry and vitriolic, they were generally very respectful and hospitable towards one other.
You’re a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors society, and Phi Alpha Sigma, the political science honors society. Tell me more about that.
On Sept. 17, Phi Alpha Sigma will celebrate Constitution Day by visiting students across campus and helping them register to vote. In Phi Alpha Theta, we have hosted noteworthy events like Meaningful Mochas. I really think that was a great event last year.
I believe our team is committed to continuing that tradition. Once a month, students will have the opportunity to meet a professor at Mocha Joe’s. Professors volunteer to be the featured professor, and students who are interested drop by and chat.
What position do you hold in these organizations?
I am actually the president of Phi Alpha Sigma, although I was inducted last spring. I was fortunate to be nominated president and we didn’t really have returning members, so things just kind of ended up that way.
I have heard that national security majors enjoy a club called Simulations in National Security. Are you part of this club?
I really wish I could be part of it this year, but I need to prioritize my other responsibilities. Though, I will take a moment and say that the club offers an excellent opportunity to meet new people and analyze some interesting scenarios.
Seeing as you are actively involved in the community, do you have any cautionary advice to first-time college students?
It is so easy to become overloaded, especially for new students. It can be overwhelming to find yourself overburdened with the excitement of campus life and academics. Even for me, my time management is good, but it could be better. You always have to differentiate what you want to do and what you can do. This semester I might be getting close to exceeding my limit, but I should be good.
What do you do in your free time?
I like to ride with my uncle—we don’t compete or anything, it’s just for recreation. I golf, but you will never see me golf later in the day. I’ve been yelled at on the course before, so I enjoy playing in the morning.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a bichon-frise mix. His name is Resse, and I have had him since fifth grade. He is now ten years old, and I love him very much.