A look at what Matthew Friedmann and Kylee Arndt were able to complete this school year
As the school year is wrapping up, Matthew Friedmann and Kylee Arndt reflected back on their roles as Student Body President and Vice President for the 2020-2021 school year as their terms ended April 18. Despite the challenges the pandemic has caused, Friedmann and Arndt were still able to make accomplishments within the student health, student advocacy and student pride principles of their platform.
“When we established these three platform principles before the pandemic, we believed strongly in the positive impact they would have on the student experience,” Friedmann said. “When we took office right as the pandemic began, it became clear they would be more important than we could have ever imagined.”
Friedmann added that the work they’ve completed within these three principles wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the Executive Team and Student Senate.
Within the student health principle, Friedmann and Arndt brought back the “De-Stress in the Dirt” program with the counseling center while also approving $18,000 in funding which will provide Mental Health First-Aid training for the entire campus over the next five years. They also worked with Student Health Services to provide free STI testing for students.
Friedmann and Arndt even had a part in combatting food insecurity on campus by partnering with the NDSU Alumni Center and matching donations made to the food security fund which raised close to $10,000. “This money was put to work by Meghan Yerhot and the food security task force who launched the first ever NDSU food pantry and ‘Swipe-Out-Hunger’ initiative.”
When looking at what was accomplished in the Student Advocacy principle, Friedmann and Arndt brought consistency to the student fee increase process. “The student fees will now be raised through a process of inflationary adjustments as opposed to random and unpredictable increases year to year,” Friedmann explained. “This new approach will give student financial predictability when budgeting for college.”
Additionally, three OER grants were issued which Friedmann said will save students close to $250,000 over the next five years. Friedmann and Arndt were also able to advocate for students at the state legislature where they provided student input to five different bills. “This included our appropriation bill, advocating for expanding student voting access and opposing the disastrous assault on academic freedom that is Senate Bill 2030.”
Friedmann said that they were also able to extend the pass/fail grading deadline as well as kept spring break in the academic schedule and in-person spring commencement ceremonies.
For the student pride principal, the myNDSU event calendar was expanded to increase awareness of events on campus. The commencement closet was also strengthened to diminish barriers so students can experience graduation. Friedmann said that they also advocated for student pride throughout the school year by encouraging students to protect the herd.
“This involved distributing the welcome packs to the entire campus, creating an incentive program for student Covid testing and mask-wearing and designing and purchasing the ‘I love my grandparents’ masks.”
While they were met with some challenges related to leading the student body during a pandemic and the uncertainty that came with it, Friedmann and Arndt were able to spend most of their term accomplishing what they wanted and even more than they planned. Friedmann said that after the racist incidents on campus, they focused on making NDSU a welcoming and inclusive place for BIPOC students.
“To do our part in this campus-wide effort we expanded funding opportunities for our multicultural student groups, created a new executive position for diversity and inclusion with a large programming budget, funded new restorative justice practices with the dean of students office and contributed a large amount of money to the multicultural office for student scholarships.”
When reflecting on what their favorite part of being Student Body President and Vice President was, Friedmann said that the impact they have left will be memorable.
“I think when we look back on this time we will remember the people and the positive impact we had on the student experience. Fulfilling Student Governments core mission of leaving the university better than when we arrived.”