SIOUX CITY | Anthony Patton, a junior at Morningside College studying political science, has a lot on his plate -- he runs cross country and track, he's a member of the honor society Omicron Delta Kappa and the Morningside Civic Union, and was a student senator for two years.
So it might not be a surprise that this campus achiever is now the student body president at Morningside.
Elected late last spring to the year-long position, Patton campaigned for two or three weeks for the spot. He even had a campaign team -- sort of.
"My roommates helped me out a lot, they helped me put up posters, helped design them," Patton said, as did some other friends.
Patton's administration is part of Morningside's two-branch student government system, which also includes a student senate with about 27 senators. For his part, Patton has a five-person executive team to help with his governing duties, including a vice-president, communications director, treasurer, student advocate and secretary.
Being the student government president can be a sizable obligation -- Patton and his staff have to hold eight office hours a week as part of the position. They also have to hold executive meetings and attend meetings of the student senate.
"So it's probably a 15 hour, 20 hour a week commitment, at least," he said.
The main duty of student government at Morningside is to determine how student activities fees will be spent, usually in the form of activities and events on campus.
"The basis of what we do is, we're trying to take their money and give it back to them as fast as possible," he said.
The student government is also working to secure more volunteer opportunities for students, and Patton said they are looking into providing students with "discount cards" they could use at area businesses.
But wait, there's more.
"We're also trying to totally re-vamp the (Morningside) constitution because it's super out-of-date, and a lot of it hasn't been followed in a few years, so we are working hard to modernize it and make it actually accessible for the students, so that they can understand what we do for them," Patton said.
Work on that ambitious project and other matters of governance won't begin until the student senators are elected in September, he said.
Will Patton seek elective office in the future?
"That's a possibility," he said. "I have to see how I like this first."
Briar Cliff University
Like Patton, Briar Cliff student president Megan Glover doesn't have a ton of free time on her hands.
Glover, a senior journalism and mass communications major, participates in soccer, Campus Ministry, Peer Advising Leaders and has an off-campus job.
There was a time when Glover thought her other activities would mean she couldn't be a part of student government.
"I was an active member of our student government when I was in high school, and then when I came into Briar Cliff as a freshman, I just really felt like I was too busy, I was playing soccer, I was involved in some other things," Glover said. "I found that I was really missing it (student government), and there were changes that I wanted to make on campus."
So she joined the student senate her sophomore year. The following year, she held a post on the executive board of her predecessor.
"I'm sure that my friends would tell you that, I'm very busy and not home that often," she said.
Glover had a golden opportunity in student government in May, when she was able to run unopposed for the student presidency.
"Not a whole lot of campaigning had to be done," she said.
Similarly to Morningside, Briar Cliff's student government consists of a senate and an executive board consisting of Glover, a vice-president, a secretary and a treasurer. The number of senators fluctuates, Glover said, but is usually between 25 and 30.
Also like Morningside, Briar Cliff's student government functions chiefly as the campus event planner, putting the distribution of campus activities funds in their purview. All decisions made by the student government have to be approved by Briar Cliff officials, she said.
Right now, the duty of divvying funds among campus groups is the main concern of Glover's administration.
"Thankfully, we haven't had too many big things come up that we need to work on," Glover said, though they are planning some small organizational changes and are looking at a few potential projects, like building a scheduled break into students' class schedules.
For the time being, Glover said she does not see herself running for elective office after college.
"As of now, no, I do not," she said. "But that could change."
Western Iowa Tech Community College eliminated their student government president position six years ago, leaving the eight senators to run meetings and make the decisions.
WITCC student activities coordinator Mike Brown said the school eliminated the student president position so the responsibility for successes or failure would be shared equally by the senators.
"If the student senate failed at something, they would somehow blame the president," he said. "Everybody is 100 percent responsible for everything" in the current system.
This fall will be third-year WITCC paralegal student Victoria Lange's first go around with the student senate.
"It's really just a good way to get out and meet people," she said.
Unlike at some other institutions, senators at WITCC are chosen by the school's administration.
"It's not a big student body election," Lange said.
Brown said the school interviews potential senators, "just like a job."
Like at Briar Cliff and Morningside, a key function of the student government at WITCC is organizing events, like the musical "Wittstock" event.
Though she is only getting into her first year in student government, Lange said she doubts a life in politics is for her.
"I don't have any plans to seek bigger offices later on," she said.