Outgoing student body president Sarah Boyle, also a second-year Pearson Fellow, reflects on her term, the accomplishments she’s most proud of, and her hopes for the next student administration.
Sarah Boyle, outgoing Harris Student Government President

Why did you want to become student body president? 

I was encouraged by the outgoing president and several of my peers. Our incoming group had some ideas that we felt could build on the previous group’s success toward making the organization an even more effective body in terms of how it addressed and advocated for student interests. 

In conversations with our predecessors, it became evident, too, that restructuring how the HSG operates would be critical. And taking on that challenge was something I wanted to be a part of and help lead.  

What are some of the main responsibilities of the Harris Student Government? 

Our primary responsibility is serving as a liaison between the student body and the administration. We really are the voice of students, helping to amplify student opinion and expression. And, to that end, we have the chance to help inform and influence the major decisions that impact us all. 

The HSG also strives to foster a more engaged Harris community – among students, faculty, staff, and alumni. We promote student welfare, facilitate student participation in policy and decision-making at Harris and the University of Chicago, and we create and encourage leadership opportunities. 

In addition, it’s our responsibility to disseminate funds for each of the Harris Student Organizations (HSOs).

Since you’ve been in office, can you talk about the accomplishments of the HSG that you’re most proud of? 

What I’m most proud of is how we’ve strategically restructured student government at Harris. The process hadn’t changed in years, and there was an opportunity to shift not only the group’s composition, but also to revamp processes that allowed us to create a stronger, more impactful presence within Harris.  

Sarah Boyle shares a laugh with another Harris student at the 2018 Follies.

I was very fortunate to have been guided by the outgoing president, Manuel Esquivel, who was pivotal in shaping this new restructure, which resulted in a two-tiered government that has an executive board and three permanent standing committees (academic, finance, and social). 

We also implemented a number of processes that helped to formalize our offering to students. We created a process for applying to be an HSO, developed formal complaint and compliment systems, and created an academic committee that provides feedback on academic matters both anonymously and not. The feedback is then passed on to Harris administration.

And, the HSG is now communicating with students via weekly update emails from me in my role as president. It’s a way to gain valuable feedback and stimulate dialogue about what we’re doing, where we’re allocating funds, and ways in which we can better serve students.   

Harris Student Government

What have you learned? How do you think this will translate into your future policy career? 

After a year of implementing change and creating new processes, it’s taught me to push the needle, but also reminded me that you can only push so far in a short amount of time. I’ve learned that open communication is key with students and consistently sharing information through multiple channels and multiple ways helps to keep students and the broader Harris community aware of all the hard work that the HSG is doing for students. 

I also learned very quickly that I needed to figure out how to prioritize our efforts, and that we couldn’t change everything overnight. I hope we’ve laid the groundwork for the administrations that will come after us. 

What are your hopes for the next round of student leaders at Harris? 

"We really are the voice of students, helping to amplify student opinion and expression."

My hope is that we have more students interested in joining and becoming a part of the student elections process. It’s been an invaluable learning and growth opportunity for me and I truly want others to experience it. In addition, my hope is that the HSG will become a more respected and well-established student organization not only at Harris, but at the University as a whole.

Good luck to the next administration – I know they will continue to keep pushing the Harris Student Government forward. With a newly appointed 2018-2019 Executive Board recently voted in, Harris Student Government is poised for another big and impactful year. 


To see what Randi Hall, the incoming Harris Student Government president, has in store in the coming year, click here.