Benjamin Cloutier did everything he could to earn votes for student body president last Wednesday–including walking up and down Bobcat Way for five hours with a sign almost as large as he is.
It certainly paid off. The sophomore political science major from Goffstown, N.H. earned 348 more votes than junior Andrew McDermott on election day.
“Leading up to it was really nerve-racking,” Cloutier said with a smile. “I was really nervous because both Andrew and I did really well in terms of campaigning, so I had no idea what to expect.”
Cloutier will officially take office next Wednesday at SGA’s general meeting, taking the reigns from current president Louis Venturelli.
The two had a meeting on Thursday, and Venturelli gave Cloutier some words of wisdom. It was overwhelming, Cloutier said, but he was more than ready to take office.
“I’m really excited to get started,” Cloutier said. “That’s basically all that that meeting gave me, just more excitement and obviously a little bit of a sense of overwhelming, but it’s all right. I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go.”
Cloutier has been the president of the Class of 2013 for both of his two years at Quinnipiac, and was the leading voice behind last semester’s push to extend hours at the Bobcat Den.
Cloutier is interested in “working to help community,” which attracted him to student government, he said.
“I was in student government in high school and that’s why I got involved with it here: to make a difference, to help people do things on campus and to be a part of the community.”
Cloutier said he was not up to speed until late second semester in his freshmen year. Snapping his fingers, however, he said this year he was able to “pick it up.”
“This year I felt as though I was confident in managing and leading the group,” Cloutier said. “So if I were to take on this position that I’m in now, SGA president-elect, it would be easier for me to pick it up and then to do big things with it for the next two years, hopefully.”
Unlike high school, “there is a lot more opportunities here to make changes to the campus and to the community,” he said.
Cloutier is the executive board secretary of Students in Free Enterprise, which creates businesses to help with community service. He has also been in Sigma Phi Epsilon since his freshmen year. He is currently on Sig Ep’s standards board, which makes sure his brothers keep fraternity standards.
“Joining a fraternity is probably the best decision that I made in my life. I don’t know if I’ll be running for any position. I might in the future, but right now I’m just focused on making sure that I transition properly into this,” Cloutier said.
This summer, Cloutier will live in Hamden and plans to have an internship, “so my nights would consist of student government,” he said.
He described being a student body president as “making sure that the rest of the student government members are performing at their best potential. A student body president also inspires the rest of the student government, as well as the other organizations on campus, to continue to succeed and to progress in terms of their goals and in what they want to do.”
For Cloutier, student government’s biggest problem is communication.
“The biggest problem in SGA that we’re facing now is that we’re not out there enough to the students,” he said. “So while we’re solving concerns and looking to push forward new initiatives, we’re not getting enough feedback or input from the students.”
He plans to raise awareness of student government is by going door-to-door twice each semester.
While campaigning, Cloutier asked, “‘Can you tell me one thing that the student government has done this year?’ The majority of the people had the same answer: ‘I couldn’t tell you.’”
“If we’re not getting input and we’re not getting feedback from the people that we’re supposed to be working for,” Cloutier asked. “Then how do we know that we’re doing a good job or how do we know we’re doing the right thing?”
Photo credit: Austin Hopkins