Advisers a ‘guiding force’ for student government leaders

Students are not the only ones working behind the scenes for Butler’s Student Government Association.

The PuLSE Office has four individuals who advise SGA and its various boards.

Dean of Student Life Irene Stevens said the role of an SGA adviser is to help executive members do the job to the best of their ability and help them avoid pitfalls they may encounter.

“I don’t necessarily always have the answers,” said Caroline Huck-Watson, director of the PuLSE Office. “But I can also help direct someone to figure out where those are.”

Huck-Watson advises the Council on Presidential Affairs, Finance Board, the SGA president and SGA’s Executive Board. As PuLSE director, she also helps other staff advisers when issues arise.

SGA President Al Carroll said the advisers are there to say when students are or are not on the right track.

“We don’t always agree with them,” Carroll said. “But that’s the way it is.”

She said that while there are no specific guidelines for her to follow as adviser, there are expectations in terms of the role she plays. She said the entire PuLSE staff follows university law and procedures.

She said that doing so allows the advisers to help students navigate university systems.

Other PuLSE advisers include Julie Pakenham, associate director; Rob Miller, assistant director; and Jen Agnew, assistant director.

The PuLSE staff reports to Stevens.

“I also work with the exec on some issues occasionally,” Stevens said. “It’s not unusual for me to have a meeting with the president of SGA, in particular the CPA president and vice president, about various issues.”

Stevens also said that her role allows her to attend various SGA assemblies.

“It gives me a sense of what’s going on with students and what the issues are that they’re dealing with,” Stevens said. “I do enjoy going in and hearing what they’re talking about.”

Stevens said the advisers are able to provide students with a historical perspective of SGA and the university.

“I rely on Caroline quite a bit,” SGA President-elect Mike Keller said. “Al has been great with the transition, but Caroline is who I look to for knowledge of the past.”

Huck-Watson said she sees challenging students as one of her roles.

“I would hope my role is that when students are making decisions, I’m helping them see a variety of different perspectives so that they can make the most informed decision that they can at that time,” Huck-Watson said.

She said she is ever-evolving as an adviser.

“It’s such a moment of pride to see a student be a successful leader, to make change on campus, to really feel empowered, to lead a group and to make decisions that have an impact on our community,” Huck-Watson said. “That happens every year. It’s so wonderful.”

Keller said he’s already had a great experience working with the advisers leading up to his transition into office.

The advisers sat in on his vice president interviews.

“It is my decision,” Keller said. “None of them tried to influence it, but they were able to provide a lot of helpful pros and cons for each candidate.”

Carroll said he has great respect and gratitude for all of the SGA advisers.

“They make my life easier,” Carroll said. “I’m thankful for that.”

Huck-Watson said she is blessed to have the opportunity to work with Butler students in such a profound way.

“I look around sometimes at events and things that are going on that our students are accomplishing,” Huck-Watson said. “It just takes my breath away sometimes.”

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