Bentley Simpson was elected president of the University of Maine Student Government on March 25. Simpson will be officially inaugurated on April 30.
Simpson said that he hopes to see greater student engagement for entertainment activities hosted by Student Government.
All students at UMaine pay a $53 student activities fee, and Simpson hopes that through engaging a greater amount of students in clubs and events — like the spring concert — more students will get the full value of their payment.
“If you’re in a club, you’re getting more than your fair share of the student activities fee,” Simpson said.
He said he is also hoping to organize a fall concert in 2019.
“I’d like to get a cheaper artist, not one of these big headliners,” Simpson said, referring to one of the three artists playing at the upcoming concert on April 27. “Someone kind of indie, hopefully to diversify a little for different groups on campus.”
Staying connected to the General Student Senate is a key platform of Simpson’s impending presidency.
“Chase [Flaherty] will be a great vice president. I know he has big plans,” Simpson said. “My big hope is that we can have a very robust Senate.”
He’s noticed that in the three years that he’s been involved in student government, the Student Senate has never been at capacity. Currently, 22 out of the 35 seats are filled.
One of Simpson’s goals has been to build a swing set on campus as a demonstration of how the new Student Government college-based system can encourage senator engagement.
“The idea is to have the engineering senators talk to the engineering department and assemble a team of engineering students to design it, have the NSFA (Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture), particularly the forestry and woodworking students select the materials for it and help build it,” Simpson said.
He said that a project like this would set a valuable precedent to allow students to get capstone projects funded by Student Government. It would also give an incentive to senators to collaborate with the deans of the colleges, rather than having the president and vice president be the only contacts.
On why is excited to have Flaherty as his vice president, Simpson cited their overlapping engagements.
“Chase is the most disciplined, impressive sophomore I know. I know him through Sophomore Owls and ATO [Alpha Tau Omega],” Simpson said.
Simpson said that Flaherty is unique in that he enjoys poring through senate bylaws and standing rules.
Simpson said that he first became interested in Student Government in high school. He was acquainted with the Senate through a connection at his fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega, and according to him, it’s been a natural climb since then.
“At the end of my sophomore year, I realized that I wanted to apply for an executive position,” Simpson said. “I applied for the vice president for student entertainment and didn’t get it … so I just kept my head down and my legs moving. Kept working on my projects as a senator.”
Simpson will serve his term from the end of this semester to the end of the spring semester 2020. The remaining executive positions Student Government have yet to be decided.