Already a leader in fraternity and Army ROTC circles on campus, Jack Thalhuber felt he could make an impact on the greater campus community at the University of Minnesota.
Days before the deadline, Thalhuber took his fraternity president’s advice and applied to run for the Minnesota Student Association At-Large Representative position. Coincidentally, both MSA president and vice-presidential tickets on the ballot advocated for expanding student government outreach to Greek and ROTC communities. He won the position when campus election results were announced March 8.
Students involved in Greek life may not have extra time to take on a position within MSA, said Simran Mishra, incoming MSA president.
But Mishra emphasized that a lack of time doesn’t mean Greek life members don’t — or shouldn’t — care about issues on campus.
Thalhuber has already worked on issues like sexual harassment and assault response and prevention, called the SHARP program in the U.S. Army. He has also pushed for equal opportunity in Army ROTC as well as within Delta Kappa Epsilon, where Thalhuber serves as the pledge educator.
Thalhuber said he wants to focus on those issues, along with medical amnesty education and housing affordability near campus.
Mishra said MSA doesn’t tend to focus on groups like Greek life or ROTC because they often don’t fully know or understand the needs of students involved in those populations.
“I’m glad that we have Jack, and that’s definitely going to help a lot,” she said. “But I know sometimes people struggle when they’re the only one representing their constituency.”
Because of this, part of Mishra and Mina Kian’s campaign this year was to create advisory groups for students typically underrepresented in MSA.
During their campaign, Mishra said she and Kian went to several of the Greek houses and met with each of the four governing councils to make sure they were including issues pertinent to the Greek community in their platform.
“The expectation can be for other student groups to show up … to voice their opinions,” she said. “Instead of asking people to come to us, we’re going to them.”
Garrick Spennewyn, the executive vice president of Delta Kappa Epsilon and Thalhuber’s roommate, said his military experience and leadership roles in the Army ROTC and their fraternity make Thalhuber a good candidate to serve as an at-large representative.
Spennewyn said as pledge educator, Thalhuber is integrity-driven — constantly making sure programming is consistent with the fraternity’s values.
“He’s definitely the person you want in the room,” Spennewyn said.
Thalhuber said he hopes being involved with MSA in the coming year will help reduce the stigma around sexual assault in Greek life, and encourage others in Greek life and ROTC to get more involved.
“I’m very excited to get into the organization and learn more about it and see what I can change,” he said.