Broadbent reflects on his work

Jessica Rothschuh

Gary Broadbent will finish his term as executive director of Undergraduate Student Senate next month. With his reign coming to a close, he reflected on his accomplishments and failures as head of the student body.

“I think I’ve done a really good job, to be honest,” Broadbent said. “I don’t want to be pompous, but I do think we’ve made some great strides on senate this year.”

Improvement of the USS Book Exchange, starting Student Legal Services and the pending change to the elections charter are some of those strides, Broadbent said.

Broadbent won against Kevin Ortiz with more than 75 percent of the votes when he ran in 2004.

It’s been said the USS election is only a popularity contest, and if it is, Broadbent never had to worry.

Walking next to him on campus, it’s hard not to feel like a celebrity. Broadbent’s hand is perpetually waving and pointing, his head nodding and his mouth smiling.

“He always gives me the salute as he walks in,” said Jacki Campbell, junior physical education major and Commuter and Off-campus Student Organization’s commuter concerns director. The Commuter and Off-campus Student Organization office is next to Broadbent’s.

“Gary’s a good person to get in contact with. He knows about everything on campus,” Campbell said. If her organization has an event, she likes to invite Broadbent because he knows a lot of people on campus.

“Get Gary there, and you’ll pack the seats,” Campbell said.

He may have won votes with his charm, but he also had a platform former Executive Director Sam Harper called “ambitious.”

One of Broadbent’s goals was to get Student Legal Services up and running, an accomplishment he called “a rousing success.” Currently, about 100 cases are open.

Another part of his campaign was to get the university library to remain open 24 hours a day during finals week. This goal was not accomplished because of budget constraints, although the library’s hours were extended during finals week as in last semester.

“I hope it’s something that other senators continue to work on,” Broadbent said.

He also planned to revamp the USS Book Exchange Web site.

“More students are using it than ever,” Broadbent said. The USS advertised the exchange better this semester, though the site is basically identical to last year’s.

An overarching theme of Broadbent’s campaign was to leave Kent State better than he found it. He said he’s accomplished this by starting “Lunch with Gary,” a program in which he had lunch with different university members weekly.

“I haven’t put up dates this semester, but I met with a whole bunch of student organizations and just students over last semester,” he said.

Arguably the most significant and least publicized of his accomplishments has been the work he has done in Columbus with the university’s lobbyists and other Ohio universities’ presidents to ensure the state legislature considers students’ interests.

Broadbent said he and other lobbyists are “making sure (legislators) realize that the key to Ohio’s economic recovery is having an educated public.”

He works on this project at least once a month.

“He’s done a great job lobbying in Columbus,” said Bill Ross, senator for academic affairs who is also running unopposed for next year’s USS executive director seat.

But to some students, it’s the little things, and Broadbent said he’d change Kent State’s mascot to a black squirrel.

“That’s a little pet project of mine,” Broadbent said, smiling. He hasn’t had any luck changing Flash.

A golden retriever, a lightening bolt, a cartoon, an eagle. Flash has been all these things, but he won’t be changing to a squirrel while Broadbent’s here.

“Maybe a decade or two from now, when I look at giving a gift to the university, that gift will be contingent with changing the mascot to a black squirrel,” he said.

Among his responsibilities, Broadbent said, is the duty to “make sure all the other senators do their jobs.”

“I think now, later on in my term, I’ve grown weary of pushing and prodding, and I just focus on what I am doing more,” Broadbent said. “Every year on senate, there’re three or four senators that work really hard. There’re some senators that haven’t done anything all year long. “

Harper said it’s hard to keep goals moving along from semester to semester.

“A different group (of senators) comes in with a different set of priorities,” Harper said. “Gary and I had a different set of priorities,” Harper said.

Harper said most students were working full-time or just trying to graduate.

“I thought the student government was supposed to serve those people,” Harper said. “Gary’s more engaged with the active student body.”

Though his term is coming swiftly to an end, Broadbent said he is not done yet.

“I still have a few things I’m working on,” he said. He is currently trying to extend senate representation to the regional campuses, where a third of Kent State’s undergraduates attend.

His other goal is to create a student memorial on campus in order to celebrate the lives of Kent State students who have recently died.

“We have to have a place to remember students after they die tragically,” Broadbent said.

Whether these goals are achieved, Broadbent will have some accomplishments to be proud of and some failures to reflect upon.

“All in all, being E.D. is something that I’ve really enjoyed,” Broadbent said.

Contact student politics reporter Jessica Rothschuh at [email protected].