April 19, 2012
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Ag sophomore elected
student body president

By Tom Campbell

Ag Sophmore becomes Student President
Joe Rust (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

Joe Rust expected to win.

He and his running mate, Lexi Hiland, had put in countless hours campaigning for Purdue University student body president and vice president. They listened to students and heard their complaints, then put together a core group of volunteers that had swelled to about 150 by the April 8 election.

They campaigned with the goal of bringing the campus together, to give the students a unifying voice.

“I think we did just about everything we could do,” said Rust, a College of Agriculture sophomore majoring in agribusiness management.

So when the Rust-Hiland team won the election, they weren’t surprised by the victory itself.

“We had such an awesome campaign team,” Rust said.

But they were surprised by the margin of their victory, considering there were four other teams of candidates.

“When the vote totals showed we had received more than 50 percent of the votes, we were astonished—shocked, really,” Rust said.

Coming Thursday, April 26:

The next edition of ConnectionsNow! will feature a look at the top freshman, sophomore, junior and senior students in the College of Agriculture. Three of the four students represent the same department. We also will report the winners of the outstanding faculty and staff awards.

Rust and Hiland collected 2,957 of the 5,841 votes cast, or 50.6 percent.

Rust is no stranger to public office. He served as president of his senior class at Seymour (Ind.) High School, then took a year off before enrolling at Purdue to serve as the southern region state vice president of FFA.

During his yearlong FFA term, Rust learned leadership skills he called upon in his campaign.

“In that one year, I learned more about leading organizations, representing students and organizing events than I ever could have imagined,” he said.

He decided to run for president last November while on a bus trip back from an Agriculture Future of America conference in Kansas City, Mo.

“After that conference, I just knew I had to get more involved in campus activities,” Rust said.

He asked Hiland, a sophomore majoring in liberal arts, to join as a running mate in January, and the campaign started to snowball from there.

“One thing a week we had to deal with became one thing a day,” Rust said. “Then one thing a day turned into five things a day. It slowly grew and grew. We started out with a key group of 10 people in late January, and it grew to well over 150 people on our emailing list of supporters through the course of the campaign.”

Rust and Hiland campaigned on a platform they called “One Purdue.”

“Our ‘One Purdue’ motto is about bringing the campus together as one,” Rust said. “We were able to take our policy and transform that into the acronym of ONE, which stands for openness (O) and accountability, nurturing (N) student success and enhancing (E) the Boilermaker experience.”

Rust said the ONE campaign has three main objectives to accomplish in the coming year. Rust and Hiland hope to return free concerts to Slayter Center, provide free legal service to students in need, and help create 24-hour study facilities on campus.

“We’re really fortunate in the College of Agriculture to have a 24-hour study center with a computer lab and study rooms,” Rust said. “But the entire student body does not have access to a place like that. We need to make sure we have those resources that will allow students to study anytime, day or night.”

The pair will be inaugurated during an invitation-only banquet at the Purdue Memorial Union on Sunday (April 22). Their term in office will run until April 2013.

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