2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.
Story by Awa Badiane ’21
Being president of the Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC) has never been an easy role, but serving in the middle of a pandemic brings even more challenges and uncertainty. That didn’t stop Kelsi Bryant ’22 from stepping up when the position came open this fall.
She was elected in a student vote earlier in October. She now leads the campus’ shared governance council, working with class representatives and committee members in helping to shape campus climate. The president’s position gives her a seat at Board of Trustees meetings and she oversees a six-figure budget.
Bryant, from St. Louis, has had a long history with student governments, as she was involved in her high school’s governing body all four years. She wanted the same at Lawrence.
“I ran for class rep my freshman year, but I didn’t get it,” Bryant said. “So, I was like, I have always been involved, but I didn’t get it so I thought maybe it’s not for me anymore. But having the experience in high school really gave me the courage to try again.”
In her short time as president, Bryant has already seen how significant this role is as she represents her peers across campus.
“Student government in my old school was more focused on planning events, kind of like S.O.U.P. (Student Organization for University Programming),” she said. “It’s a lot of different now. I’m answering lots of emails 24-7 and going to a lot of meetings; however, I still love it.”
Inspired to run
Bryant said she became inspired to run for LUCC president as a result of some negative experiences in Appleton, both personal and hearing of them from friends.
“Sophomore year I was walking down College Avenue, I was with a group of people and someone leaned out their window and threw a beer can at my head,” Bryant said. “I was lucky I ducked and it missed me, but it was really, really scary.”
Bryant said she took this traumatic experience and used it as fuel to get to a position where she can help make a difference going forward. In her role with LUCC, she wants to build a better bond between Lawrence and the greater Appleton community, working directly with the mayor’s office to protect students and create a norm that experiences like hers are never OK.
“I want our diverse students to feel safe on and off campus,” Bryant said. “Starting with on campus. … I’m going to challenge the campus to stand up for each other. … This way things would be nipped in the bud right away with a ‘that’s not right’.”
Navigating the uncertainty
Bryant said she plans to work to keep campus safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and to encourage students to get more involved in LUCC.
“Overall, I just want the student body to interact with LUCC more,” Bryant said. “I want them to know who we are, and students to feel supported by us. Not in a way that LUCC is overshadowing all of campus, but in a way that students can feel comfortable coming to LUCC with any concern.”
Bryant said it’s important for students to feel connected even amid the safety protocols tied to the pandemic. She wants to use LUCC to keep the campus climate positive and fulfilling for all students.
“I still want our students to interact, safely of course, giving them some more of the college experience back,” she said.
Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.