By Sean Robinson, Copy Editor
The wall that greets visitors to the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Student Government (SG-UNO) office serves as a memoriam of student body presidents from the past seven decades. Both pictures and plaques with the engraved names of those who once led the organization tell the story of a three-quarter century old boy’s club, with nary a few females ascending to the position of Madame President.
In 2011, Elizabeth O’Connor slaughtered her male opponent in the election, winning the student’s votes by a landslide and starting the longest line of female student presidents in UNO’s 106-year history. Three years and two additional female student regents later and Jordan Koch is just the latest iron lady to hold the office.
“At the end of my freshman year, I got close with Liz O’Conner while she was in office, and I knew then that I wanted to be president,” Koch said. “I made it my goal and worked hard to get where I am now.”
The Yankton, S.D. native credits her work ethic and not her gender for her success, and with good reason. Koch is no stranger to student politics as this has been a career high eight years in the making.
After serving on Student Council at her high school, she knew SG-UNO was the logical place to get involved at UNO and quickly landed a spot on the Freshman Leadership Council (FLC), an introductory program from those interested in one day serving as a student senator. Her ambition showed, with the group of freshman electing her and just one other to serve as their class representatives on senate. The climb continued when Koch was elected Speaker of the Senate two years in a row by her peers.
“I never really noticed this until I got into the position of student body regent, but I’m very good at making a connection with people,” Koch said. “My personality is large, and I’m very positive about everything, and I’m making it my goal to remain an approachable president.”
Koch began utilizing her connections around campus last spring when her and running-mate Adam Mackenzie, SG-UNO’s current vice president, campaigned for votes by talking to over a dozen student organizations, getting their ideas and input on how to better the university. Although the duo ran unopposed, they still wanted to garner student ideas to begin putting them into action this upcoming term.
“I’ve known Jordan for several years now and am well accustomed to her extremely upbeat personality and am certain that we will continue the success that SG-UNO has experienced,” Mackenzie said. “She and I are more than comfortable with openly discussing our opinions on any of the topics that will come across our desks as we lead.”
Looking into the next year, Koch and Mackenzie have already outlined several goals, one of which is to address the future of on-campus smoking. Following a February fire in which a dorm building became engulfed in flames due to a strewn cigarette, SG-UNO has been approached by several groups to use their legislative powers to make UNO a tobacco-free campus.
Koch said research is currently being conducted to address this matter, but she hopes to focus on acting as the liaison between the student body and administration
Other goals include creating new advisor evaluations and aiding in helping UNO become a more active community by boosting student involvement. One of Koch’s other goals for the 2014-2015 academic year is to not let the suggestions from student organizations during her campaign fall on deaf ears.
“One of my main responsibilities this year will be to make sure that that feedback gets to [the] Senate and to the people who can make the changes,” Koch said.
Although it’s still summer, Koch and Mackenzie both have embraced their duties. While Koch attends University Regents meetings, Mackenzie has been recruiting freshmen to apply for FLC. Applications will be accessible Aug. 18 until Sept. 7 and can be found through the SG-UNO webpage at sguno.unomaha.edu.
“Even if students don’t think FLC is the right fit for them, I hope they try something new and attend the great events on campus the first couple of weeks,” said Koch. “It’s where I met some of my best friends and made some of my best memories during college.”
Koch is looking towards a future of becoming an educator, but she still has to muscle through this next year as student president before donning a graduation cap.
“I hope my legacy for Student Government is that I form strong relationships on campus where faculty and administration really want to come to senate for their feedback and expertise,” said Koch, “And all aspects of campus continue to see the president as approachable and as someone who can get the job done.” Even if said president is wearing a skirt and not a tie.