By Pushya Jataprolu '16
Of the 580 and more leadership positions available to Boothies, one student decided to fulfill the niche role of Graduate Liaison on the Board of Trustees for the University of Chicago. What ensued was two quarters dedicated to understanding graduate students’ problems, the atmosphere of the student government and an intense campaign that led to a landslide victory for Katie Perri, of Chicago Booth, Class of 2016. More on her journey to winning the election and of course, what’s next:
It all started with…
Your correspondent, never noticed the email in October 2014, inviting students to a luncheon with a University Trustee. Katie did. She was intrigued and got in touch with the other Katie (Katie Schumacher, the then Graduate Liaison), to know what the role entailed. “Later, I reached out to find out more about the Student Government Elections, did my due diligence, went to a Graduate Council meeting, spoke with the undergraduate liaison and from there, made the decision to run for the position.”
Why this role, and not something else?
“During undergrad, I worked with the non profit arm, Troy Camp of the USC as a student board member, and after graduation, I was elected as the youngest member of the Board of Trustees. I got a lot out of that experience. While working for National 4-H Council, the Board of Trustees had C-suite personnel from Fortune 500 companies along with two youth trustees, so I got to see their involvement and impact. I was also on the Board for ProInspire, essentially a social impact organization through the equivalent of New Venture Strategy in HBS. With this exposure, I understood that the Graduate Liaison position here is not only a student government opportunity but also one that allows me to help the Board Leadership to manage higher education at the University of Chicago.” And I say to myself, I can see the pattern that led Katie to choose an internship with Adobe Youth Voices.
The Campaign, Contention and Election
“The process lasted six weeks. Step 1: Get 150 signatures. Thanks to all the students who signed for me, I got through that.” And I say, that is when we met and realized we were going to intern at the same place! “Step 2: All candidates meeting. Paperwork and the works, including a platform I wrote (available on my candidate profile). Step 3 was a Candidate Meet and Greet, which was an opportunity to meet different students who were interested in learning about my platform. Step 4: Speech and Debate. It was a great opportunity to take part in a debate, never done that before! The debate and a candidate profile were gateways for me to understand the views and goals the other candidates had. Step 5: The election. The University newspaper Chicago Maroon had my candidate profile (http://chicagomaroon.github.io/student-government-elections-2015/) and endorsed a Boothie for the first time (http://chicagomaroon.com/2015/04/28/the-maroon-editorial-board-endorses-young-and-perri/).”
“I had over 60% of the vote, mostly due to Booth being awesome, and the amazing support from more than half the schools. The reinforcement from Law School and Pritzker was a testament to the joint degree students, Phil Caruso and Katie Given Ligtenberg. My contenders were Eduardo from Public Policy and Rafadi from Anthropology. One of the aides to my success was to be clear that I would take up only realistic and achievable goals.”
From goals to reality
The position itself is not as clearly structured as, say, a co-chair position within Booth, but talking about next steps, Katie has a whole plan mapped out. Katie is hopeful that the data from surveys will help her identify and prioritize issues across the different schools. And by meeting with the Trustees in more informal contexts, she wishes to facilitate dialog on how best she could be a resource for them and the University to address the issues, such as the Trauma Center initiative, the divestment from fossil fuels and the University’s handling of sexual assault and discrimination. She is excited to meet some of the Trustees at the DuSable conference and at the upcoming 125th year celebration of the University.
As we end the conversation, I couldn’t help but feel happy that the position is in the safe hands of our charming and able Katie Perri.
Pushya strongly believes in the impact of the Graduate Liaison position for all schools and takes pride in a Boothie earning the role.