Boeding’s leadership leads to UNI student president


Earlier this year, Elle Boeding, a junior at UNI, decided to run for student body president. She was sworn in in April, and the campus closed in March due to COVID-19. Boeding still remains involved with her UNI remotely. (Photo submitted)
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     In late February, Elle Boeding, a junior at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), was elected student body president. A month later, the college shut down due to COVID-19.

     “Though my term was off to a strange start,” said Boeding, “it does not detract from my ability to serve students – it just changes the process a bit.”

     After being elected, Boeding, a 2017 graduate of Monticello High School, was sworn in on April 15 via Zoom. With that being the first day of her presidency, it wasn’t ideal, but she said they made it work “considering the circumstances.

     “It’ll be a great memory to share down the road, though,” joked Boeding.

     However, she said it’s concerning, at a time like this, to be a student leader in any college setting.

     “I want to ensure that UNI students know that there are still resources available,” said Boeding. “But the communication process is made more difficult because of COVID-19.”

     Boeding is double majoring in political communication and philosophy. She is seeking minors in law and sexuality and women and gender studies.

     Aside from her love of UNI, she chose to run for student body president because it was important to her to serve her fellow students to the best of her ability.

     “Throughout my time on campus, I have seen many opportunities to improve the student experience, and I felt that I could not sit idly by and wait for someone else to make a difference,” she shared. “I was raised with the mindset of ‘if there is an opportunity for you to step up and help, you do it.’

     “I take great pride in being someone who can be trusted to lead with empathy, a strong worth ethic, and inclusive mindset, and an open ear,” continued Boeding as to why she wanted to run for student body president. “I feel that my passion to make UNI safe, welcoming, and accessible as possible have prepared me well for the role.”

     Throughout her first couple of years at UNI, Boeding has been involved in several leaderships roles and opportunities: Summer Orientation Leader, Parent and Guest Programming Assistant as part of the Orientation Program, Undergraduate Intern, Resident Assistant, Student Admissions Ambassador.

     “I worked with 46 freshmen girls in my hall to promote a safe and comfortable living environment for them,” she added.

     When running for president, Boeding and her VP, Rachel Greene, visited with 36 UNI student organizations to get their message out. That equated to hundreds of students across campus, learning about their different perspectives.

     “The feedback we received from those meetings really helped us to understand how we can best serve the student body,” said Boeding.

     The pair also spoke at a town hall event where students could ask them random questions about their platform and vision for UNI.

     Initially, Boeding and Greene were up against another pair of candidates. But they later dropped out. Boeding ran unopposed.

     This isn’t Boeding’s first experiencing with government. This past year, she served as a senator in Northern Iowa Student Government. Within this organization, she was active on three committees: External Relations, Government and Legislative Affairs, and Campus Relations.

     “I am also a member of the Legislative Liaison Team, and get to advocate on behalf of students’ interests in the Iowa Legislature.”

     Through all of this involvement, Boeding admitted she’s made some pretty great friendships, and led to her decision to run for president.

     Her duties include representing the voice of UNI students in meetings with the administration and meeting with the university president to discuss on-campus issues.

     “We (Boeding and Greene) are often the only students invited to sit on multiple university committees to provide input from our perspective,” said Boeding.

     When working with other members of the UNI student government, they usually discuss advocating for UNI through the Iowa Legislature, expanding mental health services, making the campus more inclusive, and more.

     “I also make it a priority to be accessible so I may respond directly to student concerns and connect them to resources to help them be successful,” offered Boeding.

     Like other college and school-aged kids across Iowa, Boeding is staying home finishing her classes online. She spends time outdoors and tries to remain motivated and positive. She hopes that online learning is only temporary and that college students can get back to campus in the fall. She encourages her fellow college peers to reach out for help when needed and to try and maintain a sense of normalcy.

     “Be patient with yourself while you process these changes,” she said. “These are unprecedented times. It is normal to struggle when your life is turned upside down. Take care of your mental health and try to use this time to prioritize your needs.”

     Over the summer, Boeding will stay in contact with UNI officials to plan for the next school year.

     The university’s orientation program has been moved completely online for incoming freshmen, so Boeding will be working with the orientation team to help new students feel welcome.

     She encourages perspective UNI students to reach out to her to learn more about the school and its opportunities.

     “I would love to discuss UNI, or leadership in general, with anyone interested,” she offered.

     Boeding also praises her “wonderful teachers” at MHS for the encouragement several years ago to visit the UNI campus.

     “I don’t know if I would have ended up here and all of the amazing opportunities that I have had,” she said. “I am so grateful for all of the support I have received from the community, and more importantly, my family.”

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