Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Meet your SGA president

Allan Daly, SGA President and track athlete, is involved in a number of activities. Photos courtesy Lu Gerdemann and Allan Daly. Photo Illustration by Kevin Donovan

Senior Allan Daly is the Augustana College Student Government Association (SGA) president. He is serving his first year as president but his second as an SGA Executive Board member. During his junior year, he served as the SGA treasurer after two years as a senator. He and his running mate, Courtney Kampert, ran for the presidential and vice-presidential seats unopposed last year. Daly runs cross country and track for Augustana and is majoring in Mathematics and Classics. He recently sat down with me to talk about his Augustana experience and how he ended up holding the highest seat in student government.
Q: I guess we just start at the beginning. Tell me where you’re from.
A: I’m from Winnebago, Illinois. It’s a small town right outside of Rockford. And I actually live 15 minutes north of Winnebago on a family farm that’s been in my family for over a hundred years.
Q: So are your parents or grandparents farmers, then?
A: Yeah. My father’s mother, her grandfather bought the farm, and apparently they were sharecroppers on it a couple years before when they first came over in 1904.
Q: From where?
A: Isle of Man. It’s a small island in between Ireland and England. It’s part of the United Kingdom. That was the first generation. My great-grandfather, my grandmother’s father, worked [the farm] primarily. Then she came back with my grandfather and they worked it for a little bit, and then now my dad is the farmer on it.
Q: Does most of your family still live around that area?
A: My mother’s side, yes. They also have a farm on the other side of Winnebago. My Mother’s side of the family lives pretty close. Most of Dad’s family still lives in Illinois, about two hours away.
Q: Do you have any siblings?
A: I do. I have a younger brother named John, an older sister named Lea, and an older half-brother, Benjamin, who’s actually an Augustana alum as well.
Q: Did you go to a generally small high school, then?
A: Yes. Winnebago has a population of 3,000, and our high school had 500 students total with 128 in my class.
Q: How were you involved in high school?
A: I ran the gamut. I was pretty strong in academics. I liked to learn. I took a lot of math classes. I think I took as many math classes as is physically possible at Winnebago High School. I didn’t take an easy senior year because I wanted to continue to learn. I’ve always liked learning. I kinda wish maybe I would’ve done something a little easier, but it worked out well. I ran cross country and track. I was class president all four years. I was very involved in student government and National Honors Society, I ended up becoming president too. We had a robotics team called Winnovation for Winnebago, and I was pretty involved on the logistical side of that.
Q: Wow. You did do a lot. So, how did things like that influence your decision to come to Augustana? You mentioned your half-brother came here. Did that have an impact at all?
A: No, actually I didn’t even remember that Benjamin went to Augustana until senior year when I had already started looking at Augustana. For the longest time, I wanted to go to U of I. I didn’t really want to look outside of Illinois for colleges at the time, and I think that was the right move. Going into my senior year of high school, I decided that I still wanted to run in college competitively. But I couldn’t do that at U of I, I wasn’t good enough. So my high school coach, who ran for Augustana in the late nineties, mentioned, “You should look at Augustana.” And I did. But I knew, looking at colleges, if I was going to run in college, academics was still the priority. I wasn’t going to go somewhere just to run. I wanted to go somewhere with strong academics where I could still run at the same time. Academics have always been my primary focus. So I looked at Augustana. I came to campus, and our tour guide couldn’t seem to go anywhere without seeing somebody he knew. It just struck me that campus was really friendly and that I could make a home here.
Q: Obviously your position now on campus is very different than when you came here as a freshman. Knowing the difference between who you are now on campus and who you were then, how would you describe who you were when you first arrived on campus?
A: Probably a lot more uptight than what I am now. Not that I was super rigid or really high-strung or high-maintenance or anything, but I have become more easy-going and relaxed about handling things. I don’t get as stressed out as I did when I was in high school or as a freshman. I’ve always been probably a little more reserved. I’m a friendly person and everything. It’s not hard to open up, but unless I have to I’m not just going to put myself out there. If you want to know something, I’ll tell you, but I won’t just openly give information unless there’s a point. I think I’ve kind of worked away from that, where I’m a little less reserved.
Q: We can’t ignore the fact that you’re SGA President. One of the most interesting parts about your presidency is the road to how you got there. Now that your administration has actually started, how do you feel now about the fact that you were unopposed?
A: I feel good about it. There’s two thoughts I have. Internally, with SGA, no one else in the senate ran against [Courtney and I]. So, we were definitely the establishment. Everyone in the senate knew that Courtney and I had the experience and the knowledge to handle it. Externally, campus is stuck with us either way. Our plan is to do well and make a lot of changes on campus, or at least facilitate more conversations about things on campus to at least get problems out in the open rather than having people hold them inside of themselves. I hope Courtney and I do a good job, and the rest of campus appreciates that. Running unopposed I still feel that we are going to have to work with groups, and if we do something wrong, it’s like, “Well, they ran unopposed.” Maybe we’ll bring change. More people will run next year if we do a terrible job.
Q: Do you think you’re going to do a terrible job?
A: No! No! I don’t. I think we’re going to do very well, but if somebody’s really dissatisfied with what Courtney and I end up doing, I could see having more outside candidates from SGA maybe come in, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Q: You mentioned because nobody from SGA ran against you, it’s sort of like they all consent that you guys are worthy of being president and vice-president, but you can sort of flip that the other way where you ran unopposed so the campus could think that you were handed this role. So do you think that you deserve to be president, do you think you’ve earned this role?
A: I don’t think anyone deserves any leadership position. Even with the national election last year, I was a Hillary Clinton supporter. I don’t think Hillary Clinton deserved to be president. People shouldn’t be entitled to positions like that. Thinking that you’re entitled to positions of power, I think that is the mark of privilege. To me, that is the ultimate mark of being entitled and privileged where you think it should be handed to you. With that being said, I do think Courtney and I have put in a lot of time to this organization. SGA is probably the big organization I’ve always put a lot of time into. If I had to pick one thing it would be that. Does that mean that I deserve the position to be president? No, but Charlie [Bentley] picked me to be part of his team because my freshman and sophomore year he saw how much time that I had put into it and how dedicated I was to the organization. I guess in that way, I was rewarded for what I did as a senator and how involved I was. Did I want to be president? Yes. Would I have been fine if — I would’ve been upset if we lost against someone, but I still don’t think I deserved it.
Q: You mentioned how you’re not entitled to the position because that’s the definition of privilege. Do you think that any of the steps that got you to the highest seat in student government were a part of privilege? Considering you’re a white male and the society that we live in, do you think any of it was unfair luck?
A: In the sense of Student Government, I want to say that I’ve worked for most of it. I do know, if Charlie wouldn’t have picked me to be a part of his team, it would have been harder for me to get there. If I was a person of color I wouldn’t have the same upbringing that I had. If I wasn’t white, I wouldn’t have the same things that led to where I am today. You benefit from privilege whether you know it or not, I think. I’m well aware that I have a lot of boxes of privilege checked off.
Q: This interview has been entirely about you, but it’s been about what I want to know about you. Is there anything that you would want me to know that I haven’t asked.
A: We have a border collie on the farm. Her name is Gemma, and she’s a psychopath. She loves people, but she hates other animals. She’s crazy, but she’s one of the most friendliest dogs you could ever meet. That’s about it. Those would be my closing thoughts.

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Meet your SGA president