When Allison MacPhee ran for and won the student body presidency last April, she sought to use the changing times and society to stress a theme she believes is essential to any student government: unity.
“The 2019 Student Body General Election proved that Wildcats care about the way they are being represented and the avenues in which their interests are being advocated,” the junior business administration and economics major wrote in an Aug. 21 email to The New Hampshire. “Every student views student government differently, and many students seem to view it differently this year than they had in the past. Kelsey [Crowley, Student Body Vice President] and I ran on a platform of togetherness, not just between the two of us, but throughout the entire student body. I strongly believe what we accomplished in bringing a diversity of constituencies together throughout the campaign and election will carry out into the way we lead throughout our term.”
And as she begins her term, MacPhee, alongside Crowley, hopes that she can use that same momentum that rode her to office to pass legislation that addresses the myriad demands of the student body. Despite the large workload, she sees it as a chance to reaffirm the purpose of not just her office but the Student Senate as a whole.
“The mission of the Student Senate is to represent student opinion to University faculty, staff, and administration as well as the University community and the state legislature. The Office of the Student Body President works to advocate for the student body on specific policy initiatives in an effort to enhance student success and wellbeing,” she wrote. “I believe that through having efficacious and authentic leaders representing the student voice, now exemplified by a strong student mandate, we are able to accomplish this mission through daily advocacy as well as larger policy goals and initiatives.”
MacPhee, on top of being Student Body President, serves as the Chairperson of the Student Senate Executive Board, is an ex-officio non-voting member of all councils and committees of the Student Senate – such as the Academic Affairs, Community Development and Judicial Affairs Councils, amongst others – and sits as a voting member on various standing councils under the guise of UNH administrators. She also works to maintain lines of communication between her office and the student body, UNH faculty and staff, UNH administration, the Office of the University President, the Cabinet of the University President, the Graduate Student Senate, the Office of Student Life, and the Intercollegiate Athletic Department.
Beyond the campus grounds, MacPhee represents her constituents to the various student body presidents of the colleges that make up the University System of New Hampshire (USNH, which includes Keene State College, Plymouth State University and Granite State College), as well as to the Office of New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH) and the General Court of New Hampshire.
MacPhee wrote that on a typical day, she finds herself and Crowley meeting with university, staff, faculty and administrators to “formulate relationships and discuss student concerns relevant to their office.” The two also take measures to fulfill promises specific to their platform and improving their broader “student plan” to meet the demands of their constituents.
“Student government is fundamental in ensuring that the student voice is heard, and the Student Senate goes a step beyond in its ability to effectively advocate for students in profoundly important and high -level decision making, such as the hiring of executive administrators,” she wrote. “Student Senate also plays a large role in finding synergy between student interest, the larger UNH community, and the Town of Durham.”
MacPhee went on to describe several examples of accomplishing this “synergy,” including meetings with Durham town councilors and its town administrator to hash out future partnerships, and spending this past summer attending Town Council and Town of Durham (TOD) Economic Development Meetings to “garner their perspective on important matters, such as off-campus housing, and advocate for student interest in an uncommon setting where important decisions affecting students are often made.”
“These are examples of how the Senate seeks to find shared value in community between UNH and the surrounding community,” she added.
For MacPhee, this commitment to hearing out the concerns of her fellow students and bringing contrasting views under one roof began long before her April election, in part thanks to a former Student Trustee.
“I got involved in the Senate when a good friend of mine, UNH’s former Student Trustee [Christian Merheb], suggested that I apply for the position of senior financial advisor after seeing my work ethic and interest in finance.”
From her position as senior financial advisor, she witnessed a session that saw an explosion in membership, new legislation and involvement compared to previous years in recent history, so much so that it led Speaker Nicholas LaCourse to call Session 40 a “revitalization” of the governing body.
For her part, MacPhee listed the addition of a Diversity Support Coalition (DSC) liaison to the student organization and summer talks with the Student Senate Executive Board about potential improvements and “additions” to the body that could “enhance” it as examples of how successful last session was. As one of the lead representatives of Wildcat Country, however, she believes that the upcoming 41st Session of Student Senate could end up being even better.
“We are always looking for more senators as well, and Executive Officer Annah Santarosa has been working with Speaker Nick LaCourse on developing a new recruitment strategy,” MacPhee wrote. “We always strive to increase transparency with the student body while carrying out initiatives and are working to garner a stronger social media presence than there has been in the past.”
Despite looking forward to working with the Senate in her new role this year, MacPhee stressed that she cannot do it alone, and hopes that the theme of her successful campaign that brought her and Crowley together spreads beyond the pulpits and voting booths.
“I would advise students to take a chance and join the Student Senate. It’s a free opportunity on campus, with a large scope of highly respected leadership positions,” she wrote. “Even if there is just one cause, one specific issue for which they feel highly invested, they’ve taken the first step towards student leadership in acknowledging that they want to enact change. After seeing the real impact resulting from their work, they’ll be eager to continue advocating for the greater student body.”