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 / Communications
Lawrence provides a lot of opportunities for students to participate in important decision-making on campus. From the Lawrence University Community Council (LUCC) to the Judicial Board (J-Board) to the recent Presidential Search Committee, Jessica Toncler ‘22 has repeatedly seized the opportunity to take part in that decision-making process.
“I’d always been really interested in student government,” Toncler said. “I was in student government all throughout high school; I was student body president my senior year. It is something I was already really passionate about.”
Toncler, a government and music performance (violin) double major from Columbia Station, Ohio, is serving as the council’s parliamentarian this year.
“I just kept trying to become more involved,” she said.
A presidential search
That involvement led Toncler to being part of the most recent big decision Lawrence made, the hiring of a new university president.
“It was a lot of work; there were weeks we put in 20-plus hours on Zoom meetings,” said Toncler, who joined Shaun Brown ’21 as students named to the 17-member Presidential Search Committee.
She and Brown worked alongside faculty, staff, and members of the Board of Trustees, narrowing down potential candidates, eventually recommending Laurie A. Carter to become Lawrence’s 17th president.
“I think this was one of my favorite memories at Lawrence thus far,” Toncler said. “Working with the Board of Trustees, I made so many new connections and relationships. I met a whole new group of professors that I would have never met otherwise because I wouldn’t have taken classes in their discipline.”
Toncler said the experience is something she’ll continue to build on.
“I had my junior [violin] recital in March, right after we announced Laurie as the new president, and all the trustees came to the livestream and were emailing me,” Toncler said. “It was a little community; it was so great.”
Embracing student government
Toncler joined LUCC her first year at Lawrence as a class representative.
“My first year, I ran for class rep, either the first or second week of school,” Toncler said. “I remember it was really stressful because no one knew me, all they would know was my 150-word statement.”
Toncler was elected a class representative during her first year and has been a part of LUCC ever since. She has worked toward expanding her reach on campus, joining other committees and boards geared toward improving campus.
“I got really involved in [LUCC] and it was because I really enjoyed it,” Toncler said. “My sophomore year I ran again and was re-elected [a class representative], and I joined the Curriculum Committee and got to meet a lot of the people who are part of the administration. My sophomore year I also joined the Judicial Board.”
Toncler was excited about the teams she joined because she knew she was having a real impact in advancing Lawrence as a student.
“One of the interesting things about Lawrence is they give the students a lot of free reign,” Toncler said. “Curt [Lauderdale, dean of students] and Chris [Card, vice president for student life] sit in on LUCC meetings as advisors, but it really is a student-run entity.”
After Lawrence, Toncler is planning on pursuing law school and feels as if her experiences at Lawrence have prepared her well.
“The parliamentarian role has set me up really well,” Toncler said. “Feeling like I have some relevant experience to bring to the legal sphere. I have also learned how to communicate in a professional setting, how to talk to administrators, how to talk to board members.”
Awa Badiane ’21 is a student writer in the Office of Communications.