Mechanical engineering senior Alex Campbell has been elected as the Interfraternity Council (IFC) president for the upcoming 2015-’16 school year. After being the chapter president of Delta Chi this past year, he feels prepared to take the reins as IFC president. Mustang News sat down with Campbell to talk about his background and goals for greek life next year.
Q: Tell me about yourself. What are your interests and hobbies?
A: I’m from Juneau, Alaska. It was a nice place to grow up. I like going outdoors, fishing. I played baseball and tennis in high school. I like hanging out with everyone in Delta Chi, and school takes up a lot of my time.
Q: What was is like growing up in Alaska?
A: It was unique. It was definitely an awesome experience and I’m glad I grew up there. I wouldn’t trade that in for anything. There’s great people there. Juneau is one of the largest cities in Alaska, but it is still pretty small and there’s no roads in or out, so it still kind of has that small-town feel. It was nice. I liked that.
Q: Why did you choose to come to Cal Poly?
A: People kind of expect a crazy story about how I heard about Cal Poly. Basically, I wanted to come to California and I wanted to do engineering. If you Google those two words, Cal Poly usually pops up. It just kind of fell into my lap, I guess.
Q: Are you involved with anything else at Cal Poly besides greek life?
A: Not right now. I used to be in a few clubs and I dropped those because of time. Delta Chi is what I cared most about, so I decided to give whatever time I had left after school to that.
Q: Have you had any leadership positions in greek life in the past?
A: I’m the chapter president now and that’s where most of my experience comes from. That’s kind of what I think prepared me to take on this role. That experience definitely prepares you for dealing with people and managing a large number of them, so I feel well prepared for this.
Q: What is the election process for IFC president?
A: Essentially, four people got nominated. One person dropped out. You give your 10-minute speech followed by five minutes of questioning and that’s about it. That’s all you really have to show. But, from my experience, at least when I saw the candidates do their speeches last year, the discussions are mainly based on the body of work you’ve done in the past. Speeches are nice. If you have a passionate speech, that’s good, but I think people knew who I was pretty well from just working alongside me. You spend so much time with those guys, you know them more than a 10-minute speech can explain.
Q: What are your ideas for the upcoming year in greek life?
A: Greek life is in a delicate position right now. We don’t have favorable relations with the administration and with the community in general. I think we’re just a bit misunderstood. I think there’s a lack of communication between us and the community. And I want to improve relations with campus and try to get everyone collaborating a little bit more, get the chapter presidents working together. I guess that’s kind of the general vision. I think the job always gets consumed by the things that come up unexpectedly. Getting an IFC board that’s ready to handle that will be my next job. You have to expect the unexpected. Things do come up, but I feel prepared to handle it.
Q: Why are you qualified for the job?
A: I think my experience as chapter president has prepared me for this. I work well with people. I think I have those management and leadership qualities, and I think I could be an effective president and make some positive progress.
Q: What are your duties as chapter president?
A: Chapter president is very similar to IFC president in the way that I have my executive board. It’s helped me to find a balance between delegation and how to run a board and manage a large number of people. My chapter president duties are kind of similar to the IFC duties on the surface: managing the chapter and being the face and spokesperson of the chapter.
Q: When did you know that you wanted to be IFC president?
A: It’s something I considered after being chapter president for a while this year and seeing the issues that were going on in IFC. Halfway through the year, after things got complicated, I realized that there were some things I would’ve done differently. I think that Alex (Horncliff) has done a great job in a very difficult situation, but there are a few things I would’ve done differently and that’s just because of the two different people we are.
Q: How do you feel about being elected for IFC president?
A: I’m happy and excited. I may have moments when I’m like, “What did I get myself into?” and I see Alex (Horncliff) dealing with all these things, but I think that the excitement outweighs that at this point. I’m looking forward to getting started and getting work done next year. I’m a pretty level-headed guy. I don’t have many extremes, which is a good quality to have for a job like that.
Q: What are you most excited for?
A: Right now, putting together the new IFC board. I’m excited to do that and meet the people I’m going to be working with all next year. Get some great guys to help out and do some good work, hopefully. I’ll be working with Chief of Staff Kevin Gong and (Fraternity and Sorority Life Coordinator) Kathryn O’Hagan to pick the team. It’s important to get the people in their positions as soon as possible so they can start shadowing and learning from the guys who are doing it now because there is a lot to learn.
Q: How do you feel about Kevin being elected as chief of staff?
A: I’m excited. Kevin is a great guy. He’s extremely enthusiastic and very upbeat. I think we balance each other well. I’m a little bit more level and I think he’ll bring an excitement and maybe light a fire. He’s come up with some great ideas this year, so I’m excited to see what he’s got.
Q: What are you most nervous for?
A: Again, the unexpected. I’d hate to see another situation like we’re in because I don’t think that’s reflective of our organization as a whole. I don’t know if nervous is the right word. I guess I’m cautious for something like that to come up.
Q: Do you have any advice for anybody looking to get involved in the leadership side of greek life?
A: Do it. I didn’t even expect to join greek life. I came from a place where it doesn’t really exist, and when I came to Cal Poly it was introduced to me and I kind of got off on a wrong foot. I never thought I’d be a part of it, and once I got involved, it completely changed my view. And once I started taking on more responsibility, I realized that there’s a lot to gain from experiences like that. There’s things in college you can’t learn in a classroom. Obviously, don’t take it on lightly because there’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of people looking to you for help, guidance and leadership; so it’s not easy, but I like it a lot and I definitely recommend it.