Student Government Leadership Among Us!

Leading the Way!

Freshman senator grows in leadership position
ASUI President Pro Tempore Michael Ryan said he never wanted a career in politics.

President Pro-Tempore Michael Ryan participates in the ASUI Senate meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Whitewater Room of the Commons.

A foray into agricultural education led Ryan from his hometown of Estes Park, Colorado, to the University of Idaho, but a childhood enchantment with lights and sirens carried over into his future plans.

The sociology major hopes to go into law enforcement because he thrives in intense situations and wants to make an impact. Ryan said he ran for ASUI Senate for the same reason.

“In law enforcement, you need to be strong and reasoned with your morals,” Ryan said. “I bring that to the senate. I’m willing to be reasoned with and make the decision in the best interest of the students.”

Ryan, a freshman in Phi Delta Theta fraternity, was elected last fall after his roommate, Sen. Cameron Cochems, said he should run. Ryan said he was involved in student government in high school, but saw student government at the collegiate level as an opportunity to have a more profound effect in students’ lives.

“The things we talk about on a day-to-day basis are very tangible, and they’re directly impactful for students,” Ryan said. “When you pay tuition dollars, part of that is student fees and that goes to student government so they can do things that are impactful upon other students. And we all pay a lot of money to be here, so it kind of made sense to get involved in an organization that had impact on others, as well as my own tuition dollars.”

During his first semester in ASUI, Ryan said he did a lot of work addressing Safe Walk — a security program at UI where security officers escort students across campus — and volunteered to be the senator assigned to the Tobacco Task Force, where he represented ASUI to the committee of UI community members.

“That’s what absorbed a lot of my semester,” Ryan said.

When former ASUI President Pro Tempore Austin Karstetter’s term ended last semester, Ryan was nominated to fill the position. He was elected over Sen. Katie Cramer with a 9-7 vote.

Since assuming the position at the head of the ASUI Senate, subordinate within the senate only to ASUI Vice President Sarah Vetsmany, Ryan said he’s had to get comfortable conferring with people like the university president and provost. While he said it was intimidating at first — being a first year student in a leadership position — he’s become accustomed to the job and can’t imagine not being involved at UI.

“It was difficult coming in as a first year student — my views were still very first year-oriented — but ASUI opened me up to the whole spectrum,” Ryan said. “(Being a freshman) is definitely a hurdle and you have to overcome your fears, but I haven’t really thought about the difficulties.”

After what he said was about a six-week learning curve, Ryan said he feels like he hit his stride, and is excited to see what he can accomplish in the next three years.

“Government teaches you about being versatile,” Ryan said. “You could at one point be talking to a fellow senator, then to a constituent, then the vice provost of Student Affairs and back to a constituent, and going forward, those are things that are valuable as a law enforcement officer — being able to talk to a diverse amount of people, and that’s something I’ll take away from ASUI in a tangible way.”

-University of Idaho Argonaut Student Newspaper