Senior Christine Nacewicz’s second year as student body president is drawing to a close, and the large majority of those she worked with in student government praised her approach, leadership and accomplishments.
Virtually all of the respondents spoke highly of Nacewicz’s overall approach, saying she works diligently, passionately and positively.
“What I’d love our community to know about Christine is how tirelessly she has worked to support students during the eight months I’ve worked with her,” Dean of Students Debra Jones said. “Sometimes I need a nap just thinking about all she’s done.”
Senior Derrick Fleming, the student body vice president, said that Nacewicz is “a very driven individual. The moment she sets her goals on something, she will achieve it. Working with someone like that has made my job both busy and easy.”
House presidents also shared this view. “She is very passionate about all the many things she is involved in, which only makes everyone else even more passionate as well,” said junior Savanna Sprague, a Howard House president. “She is definitely a leader simply by how she lives her life.”
An anonymous student senator said, “Christine is a very hard worker, and she has high expectations for everyone in student government, including herself. If there is ever something that needs doing, Christine isn’t afraid of getting to work along with everyone else.”
Leadership Institute director David Wold, who consults with Nacewicz and other student leaders on campus, said, “It’s been great to work with Christine. I think her fellow students would be both surprised and impressed by the time and thought she’s put into student government during her time as president.”
He continued, “The thing that impressed me is that even when things got difficult, Christine never lost her interest in, or enthusiasm for, student government. I think what best defines her tenure is that she was always on the job. She was always interested in what else could be done and how to give student government more of a voice.”
Junior Marshall McCurties, who served as Nacewicz’s student body vice president last school year, estimated they put in “15 to 25 hours each week working for student government, and Christine was incredibly selfless throughout the whole year.”
Nacewicz dedicates many hours to student government, and she also has moments of self-reflection, including recognizing where she needs individual growth. Nacewicz said she improved her outlook from last school year, saying that “I wouldn’t have taken things so personally.”
“Junior year, I came to the position with a fire and passion to really move and shake things up and get things to change. But there was a lot of resistance, and I tended to take things really personally. I like the stress and pressure that comes with trying to get a lot of things done, but the stress and pressure that comes from feeling like people don’t like you or what you’re doing, that really took a beating on me at times,” Nacewicz said. “Because of that, I came out this year trying to get a lot done, of course, but I wasn’t as outwardly passionate about it because I didn’t want to feel all the negativity from last year. But in reality, who cares? There are always going to be people who don’t like what you do, so just go forward with so much confidence.”
Many also commented on Nacewicz’s capabilities as a leader.
“As a leader, Christine was always willing to listen to people’s opinions, even if they were unreasonable at times. She tried to give people a fair chance with what they wanted to accomplish while still being fair to everyone else included,” said junior Peter Telschow, last year’s Buck House president. “She was excellent at delegating and managing time so that everything that was meant to get done was accomplished.”
Even freshman house presidents were able to get a sense of how Nacewicz operates. “It’s been great to work with Christine. She’s an awesome person and a really effective leader,” said freshman Candace Grennie, a Rackham House president. “She’s extremely organized during Pres Board meetings and is always willing to take our recommendations and ideas to a higher power if need be.”
Sophomore Georgia Mae Hurley, a student senator, dubbed Nacewicz as “Superwoman.” Hurley added, “I was so impressed by her organization and dedication throughout the semester. I appreciated her consistent efforts to make sure we were all on task and that things were being accomplished. As a leader, she is approachable and goes out of her way to make sure that everything is running smoothly from the ground up. She makes you want to do your job well.”
“She’s very organized and always put together,” said sophomore Nathalie Parker, the Joe McNabb House president.
Nacewicz’s organization did not diminish her creativity. “She is also good at generating ideas and trying to look at things from a different perspective,” Fleming said. “We may not always agree on some of the things we think should happen, but I feel like we are usually on the same wavelength.”
Wold explained one of the difficulties Nacewicz faces. “It’s not easy to lead one’s peers, especially when they’re volunteers who have many demands on their time. To set direction, keeping everyone engaged and making sure they follow through is challenging, but it’s such a great opportunity to grow as a leader.”
In Nacewicz’s two years as president, she led many efforts to improve Principia College. Those interviewed listed numerous projects completed by student government during her presidency.
“I would say the whole Student Center-meal plan project is what I’m most proud of,” Nacewicz said. “People actually use the Student Center all the time, and when all the same exact stuff was downstairs, no one went down there. It’s really nice having another central space for students because there really aren’t very many on campus.”
Nacewicz continued, “As for the meal plan side of that project, students are allowed to buy things from the store on their Prin card, and they were never able to do that before. Also, the store is open until 2 a.m. now on every day, and it was only open until 4 p.m. on weekdays. Also, the way students buy food now is closer to how it is when you’re living on your own.”
Fleming also commented on the meal plan project, saying Nacewicz “[made] sure that the new meal plan was well-organized and had as much student input as possible.” He acknowledged that “not everyone may like the new plan,” but that “Christine did a great job of communicating concerns with Dining Services in the initial stages. She helped coordinate all of the different dining plans students wanted over the summer in her free time. I feel like that shows such commitment she has in this position.”
McCurties, now out of all-campus student government, said, “I think the biggest and most evident accomplishment is the new store. Christine spent an incredible amount of time meeting with administrators to make the store a reality in order to be ready for this current school year. In typical Christine fashion, she took on a challenge head-on and did a fantastic job, spearheading a large portion of the work herself.”
He also mentioned other fields in which student government worked. “We opened up talks with students and cabinet members about policies, and we started weekly meetings with Campus Security to strengthen the relationship between students and that department. Student senators made groundbreaking work in different areas, particularly student input in academics.”
Several more objectives completed under Nacewicz include revising the daily academic schedule, moving the student government office to a more central location and regulating the Student Senate model.
Telschow validated the completion of the new meal plan, but also provided an alternate view on the overall headway of student government. “I believe that there have been many great ideas that have been offered up as potential changes on campus that have not been accomplished, but I don’t think that has been on Christine as a leader,” he said. “We haven’t made much visible progress on the homosexuality stance with the administration, but we have had the opportunity to let new clubs open, let old clubs refurbish their equipment, and do many other small things across campus that not many people can remember or take notice of.”
This concern about student awareness is not limited to Telschow. In Nacewicz’s opinion, the student body does not seem to be fully aware of what student government is doing. “The biggest obstacle that student government faces every year is students not being aware of what is going on. Students say they don’t know what’s going on, but when they don’t read their email, watch the Senate videos, go to house meetings, or read the flyers and posters they pass every day in the concourse, it makes it challenging to get all of the information out.”
She continued, “This year’s Student Senate took the approach of continuing to offer all of the information they could, but they weren’t going to break their backs trying to make sure every student knew everything. This group figured that if students wanted to clue in, they would. If not, they wouldn’t know what’s going on.”
However, Nacewicz and others say she has made extra efforts to increase communication between the student body, student government and the administration.
“One important accomplishment, which goes largely unseen, is that lines of communication between students and the administration have improved quite a bit,” Wold said. “And communication between student leaders has improved. I think there’s better sharing of information across the board than we’ve seen in years past.”
Jones added, “I can only speak to the last few months, but one thing Christine and Derrick have done is alert me to the need for the dean of students to be more visible and accessible to students. So when you look at my new office and the student lounge out front – complete with peppermint patties, a Keurig machine and many beautiful books – please remember this was in response to their request.”
Almost everyone interviewed recognized Nacewicz’s efforts to enact change. But they also noted the difficulty she faced while balancing the priorities of the student body and the administration.
Another anonymous student senator said the following of this situation: “[Nacewicz] is very enthusiastic and cares a lot about student government. She cares a lot about the school and is a leader that does really want to listen to others. However, I feel like she might have been torn between representing the administration to the students or the students to the administration. I believe that’s a difficult position to be in. However, as an elected leader of the students, one’s responsibility is to the students and not to the administration.”
Others wondered how effective the office of the student body president really is, regardless of who occupies it.
“Even as president, Christine’s position is really limited by rules, regulations and people higher above in the hierarchy, so I understand why some of the ideas put forth by Pres Board couldn’t happen,” Parker said.
Regardless of how one perceives Nacewicz’s performance, Fleming encouraged the student body to take ownership of its affairs in student government.
“If someone doesn’t feel like student government has done much, then that is an open opportunity for him or her to take initiative and participate. I hope that people who feel like Christine and I haven’t done a good job as student body president or vice president have decided to participate more in student government to do a better job. That would be awesome,” he said. “I have gained a lot of appreciation for student government because I, too, once felt like student government didn’t do a whole lot. I had no idea what it did. However, after being in student government, there is a lot we do, and more that we can do. There is always room for improvement, but I think Christine and I have been satisfied with this past year.”