We recently sat down with newly elected Harris Student Government (HSG) President, Randi Hall, to learn what made her run for office, what she’s hoping to accomplish and how she spends her time outside of the classroom in the Windy City.

Hall serves as the Minorities in Public Policy (MiPPS) Recruitment and Advocacy chair. She is pursuing a joint master’s degree program from the University of Chicago at Harris and the School of Social Service Administration.

Randi Hall, incoming Harris Student Government president

What made you want to run for President?

My close friends within the Master of Public Policy Class of 2019 approached me one evening and stated that they knew someone who would be a good candidate for President. I replied, “Who?” not realizing that they were specifically telling me for a reason!

I realize now why they wanted me to run: Over the academic year I have been observing aspects of the Harris experience that I believe needed to evolve as the institution continues to expand in scope. I am always asking other students about their experiences as well and had noticed patterns that mirrored what I had seen. This led me to craft an internal policy memo to submit to the current HSG executive board on issues I felt needed to be addressed, which would build on the strong efforts of the current HSG team. At that point, it made sense to turn that memo into my presidential campaign platform!

What are you most eager to accomplish over the next year? 

While I understand that I only have one year to serve as President, I plan to utilize the collective energy of the Harris student body by working collaboratively to organize our objectives into an actionable agenda. 

I am excited for HSG to advocate for an expanded curriculum that encompasses education in policy communication skills, ethical considerations of policy making, and applying concepts of intersectionality theory of politics and policy. I am also seeking to establish a first-year discussion seminar course that will provide students with space to discuss these and other relevant topics as they complete their core curriculum.

How has your experience at Harris so far prepared you for this important role?

First, I believe my dual degree with the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) prepared me in some ways to reflect critically on the differences between the Master of Social Work and the MPP. 

When I first started at Harris, I largely kept to myself and did not engage with the broader Harris community. A true turning point for me came at the end of Fall Quarter, when I had a mental health crisis. Some of my close friends, as well as Harris staff, intervened to provide support. Since then, I have grown to appreciate the strength of student life at Harris and gone out of my way to meet fellow students whenever possible. I recognize the importance of having a community of peers, and it is my goal to ensure that all Harris students feel welcomed here.

How do you plan on interacting with the Harris student body? 

I’ve always been a gregarious person—I enjoy making conversations with individuals I’ve just met, whether it’s small talk at the airport or heavy political discussions in a Lyft ride! I want my Harris peers to know that when I’m sitting at the café alone, they should stop by and say hello. 

Is there anything that you’re excited to start working on now?

Currently, I’ve been engaging with Harris students across programs of study and years of enrollment to form working committees structured around the feedback that has been provided by the student body. It is my hope that by encouraging more engagement in the change-making processes inside and outside of Harris, students will feel empowered while applying relevant policy skill sets such as research and communications.

Harris Student Government (HSG)

What else can we look forward to hearing about or seeing from you?

Soon HSG will announce new members of the Academic, Finance, and Social Committees—I look forward to working with peers who will provide new perspectives into serving the Harris community, such as planning community outreach events and presenting student suggestions and concerns into actionable proposals. 

On a personal note, I’ll be in Chicago this summer interning for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and I’m looking forward to spending some down time working with the Harris administration to move forward on initiatives pertaining to Welcome Week and other community-building programming.

What is the greatest strength of the Harris student body?

I am constantly inspired by the innovative thinking I witness from members of the Harris community, whether their interest is domestic or international, deals with public finance or social enterprise, involves data analytics or community organizing. There is so much out-of-the-box and nuanced thinking going around here on a daily basis, and it’s amazing to be part of these conversations. I am honored to serve as President to such a bright and dedicated student body.

When you're not studying, working or leading the Harris student body, what are your favorite things to do in Chicago? 

One of the best aspects of Chicago is the abundance of communities spread out across the city. I have really enjoyed exploring new neighborhoods through various work, education, and social opportunities. In particular, I love attending music concerts at local venues and playing games at one of Chicago’s arcade bars. 

To see what outgoing Harris Student Government president Sarah Boyle had to say about her time at the helm, click here