Meet the President: Arbuckle’s Journey in Student Government

by Abby Koch-Protein shake. Vitamins. Cup of black coffee on the go.

Garrett Arbuckle’s day always starts with these three items and mark the beginning of his busy schedule. From 8am until volleyball practice in the late evening, he is on the go.

Arbuckle is heavily involved in a variety of activities, from being a resident assistant in the dorms to performing duties as the news director for KMSC. He prides himself in his punctuality and dedication to every role he is in. 

He especially takes pride in the work he has done in Morningside Student Government.

Sophomore Garrett Arbuckle

Despite the heavy schedule, he makes sure to hear the voices and concerns of the Morningside student body at least three days a week in the early morning. “I’m here for anyone that wants to come into the student government office, but [they are] very busy in the afternoons and evenings,” said Arbuckle, “It’s just that there’s a little more accessibility for students to come in and voice their concerns.”

Over the past year, Arbuckle has served as the secretary for student government and meticulously writing out the minutes of each meeting. His next step will be heading into his junior year with the role as the student government president.

“I didn’t know what to say to Vice President [Jolene] Horn when she called me,” he recalled, “I can tell you that immediately it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, because the campaign process, the debate, the social media posts, everything was just getting to be a lot.”

Arbuckle’s campaign for presidency was against two fellow sophomores, Garrett Anderson and Collin Adank. The campaigns for becoming student government president this year was different compared to recent years due to the number of candidates running.

Arbuckle ran with a message of being transparent and bridging the gap between student government and the student body. “I saw this issue last year as a senator and I’ve seen it firsthand this year as an executive is that one, people don’t know what student government is, and two, they don’t care,” said Arbuckle, “I think that they should care because it is the head student group on campus that really can assist in multiple ways beyond people’s imagination really. They don’t realize how much power student government has and the resources that are offered.”

All three candidates ran intense campaigning with specialized Instagram posting to stickers. Due to the number of candidates, they debated top issues and reasons to vote for them with a debate on Feb. 14. Some of the issues brought up were centered around internal issues of student government and communication.

Voting opened up on Feb. 15 and ended on Feb. 17. The results were announced on Feb. 19 that Arbuckle was chosen by the student body for the position.

The incoming president is a native of Littleton, Colorado, a nine-hour drive away from Morningside College. When Arbuckle was looking for a home to continue his education after high school, the home of the Mustangs was nowhere on his list of possibilities. “[Morningside] had been sending me the recruitment stuff in the mail,” explained Arbuckle, “But it was one of those things where it was like ‘oh, I’m not interested’ because being a high schooler you know, just being a junior in high school. You have a focus of what you want your life to look like, how you want your life to look like, but you don’t really know.”

Arbuckle was interested in heading towards the direction of a political science and law at a bigger school. Morningside College became a possibility for Arbuckle after former Head Men’s Volleyball Coach Scott Tschetter expressed interest in him being on the team. Despite no intention of continuing his athletic career, he ran with the opportunity.

First year of college for Arbuckle was similar to many freshmen who live far from home: developing independence away from family. Getting involved was how he developed a family away from home.

“I was super involved in high school, probably in anything you could imagine. Academic, sports, everything,” said Arbuckle, “[College] was now taking it all to the next level and it was just fun. It was so great to just come here and feeling like I was able to do those things.”

Arbuckle became a part of KMSC, Morningside Civil Union (MCU), and other organizations. Student government was a group that he immediately knew he wanted to join. 

The Littleton native was a part of student government throughout high school and was class president his senior year. Arbuckle said that being a part of student government became a passion for him and that it coupled with his interest of going into politics. 

As a freshman senator, Arbuckle learned the intricacies of student government by asking questions and participated in opportunities within the group. 

 One of the big projects that he led, was being the chair for the safety and accessibility committee. In that position, Arbuckle worked to get better lighting on campus so students can feel safe at night. The committee had to work with campus security and with the electricity company in order to make the changes. “We had to make calls to Mid-American, then the lighting improved,” he said, “There was several lights that got brighter or got changed. And it was just those little things that we’re able to show that when walking at night you really realize that ‘oh, wow, it’s a little bit brighter on campus’ and it made people feel a bit safer.”

When elections started for an executive position for the 2019-20 year, Arbuckle knew he wanted a position. “I knew I wanted to get on the exec team. But there were certain positions that I was kind of unsure about running for. Originally, I was going to run for vice president,” explained Arbuckle, “In the back of my mind, I was like, you’re just freshman, you’re not ready to take that on, even though it’s fine.”

Arbuckle decided to run for secretary and would be elected for the position. Since being in the position, he has been viewed as a committed leader. “Arbuckle is insanely professional and prompt with all of his duties,” said Kiki Bennett, current Student Government President, about him as secretary. “In fact, I would say that he went above and beyond with his role as secretary. We hear all the time that people really appreciate the transparency that has come this year with how he has written the minutes.”

 “I’ve been able to see how both sides of how student government runs on the senate level and on the executive level,” said Arbuckle, “It’s nice to be able to reach out to the different resources and learn more about the college overall as well.”

Some of the issues that emerged this past year was a motivating factor for Arbuckle running for presidency.

“There was a lot of outspoken senators and I thought that it was going to be very productive,” explained Arbuckle, “I was really, really hopeful that things were going to happen. Then conflicts started happening with the Senate. That was a challenge when conflict happened, there was no resolution to the conflict. It was digging heels in on both sides of things quite frankly.”

Negativity from within student government became a well-known subject this year, seen in the minutes and through talk. The issues within the group was brought up by the debate moderator, Professor Greg Guelcher, in how the presidential candidates would solve the issue.

Other decisive issues within student government was thoughts about three topics: whether or not to recite the senator’s oath, whether or not to get rid of constituency reports, and senator’s putting in office hours. The division on these topics was also a factor for him to campaign.

As the incoming student government president, he hopes that leading by example and making sure the problems are fully resolved helps solve issues. “I’m someone that if there is a serious problem, let’s hash it out. Let’s figure it out,” explained Arbuckle, “Because you have to pull it out by the root, you can’t just pick off a little bit like a leaf and say that it’s dead. You have to pull it out from the root. If there are troubles arising, I would work to find out the root of those issues and then be able to resolve it.”

Top of the docket issues for Arbuckle would be improving student experience with diversity, sustainability, and implementing specialized ad hoc committees. Much of the improvements he wants to make is to reflect the growth that the college is taking on as it transitions to university.

Another area he wants to improve is the experience and making sure the voices of international students are being heard. Arbuckle noticed the issue when an international constituent reached out to him. Since that interaction, he wants to make sure international students feel included on campus and to open up the opportunities of work study for them.

“It all just comes down into bettering Morningside’s campus on a whole and bettering  student life because student government is there for the students,” said Arbuckle, “I want them to actually see that student government has a huge role and will work to do the things that it has promised. That’s my number one goal, is to just make the group more prominent and more beneficial to students for sure.”

Bennett sees that the qualities in Arbuckle will be beneficial towards the presidential role. “Garrett is someone who is not afraid to be confrontational, which I think is a great quality, especially with keeping not only the senate in check but also his fellow executives,” said the current president, “Garrett also is selfless, he isn’t in student government for the title of student body president for how it looks on a resume. He is in it because he wants the best for the students here and I think this will inspire his senate to want to make a difference on campus.”

Arbuckle will continue what he has done for the student body, along with learning the role of president. Listening to students by opening up the student government office for those who only have time in the morning and want their voice to be heard with action to taking place.

Mornings that are accompanied by three items to his routine.

Protein shake. Vitamins. Cup of black coffee on the go.

March 15, 2021