Drew and Kristen look to connect with students




In a spirited runoff election, the student body elected Drew Stensland, a junior political science and public administration double major, and Kristen Ahart, a junior English education and TESOL double major, to be president and vice president of Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG), respectively.

Stensland is from Cedar Falls, and served as student body president at Cedar Falls High School. Ahart is from Denison, Iowa and was brought to UNI because of the excellence in the music department.

The pair met within their first five hours on campus their freshman year during a lively game of spoons in Campbell Hall’s ballroom.

“I can honestly say that I have never seen someone throw more elbows in a game of spoons than Kristen Ahart. And that was the first time we met,” Stensland commented. 

The duo has more in common than a penchant for spoons, too. Both Stensland and Ahart have a history of campus involvement, from the moment they arrived their freshman year.

Ahart has been an RA for two years, spending a year in Dancer and a year in the ROTH complex. She has been active in NISG since her freshman year, when she started as a CHAS Senator and also got involved in CATS.

Ahart feels like her involvement on campus has been more than a resume-building mission.

“Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned have been outside of the classroom,” Ahart said. “Like how to connect with people on a personal level and show them that you value them.”

Stensland has been involved in Campbell Hall Senate, Residence Hall Association and Sigma Phi Epsilon, where he has maintained an active executive position in Sigma Phi Epsilon for two years now.

Recently, he has gotten involved with the Student Life Team. Stensland explained that being involved has taught him the value of combining productivity and fun.

“The Student Life Team has especially taught me that you can get a lot done while having a lot of fun,” Stensland said. “If you can have fun while being productive, that’s the ultimate goal.”

Both Ahart and Stensland said they intend to bring these attitudes to their new administration.

“I am looking forward to working to change the culture within NISG,” Stensland said. “I am excited to make it more positive and make sure students can get a lot done while enjoying each other’s company.”

Both Stensland and Ahart are also eager to start their 280 Tour, where they will meet with every student organization individually. Ahart is excited to hear about issues facing students and student organizations she would not have known about otherwise.

Both Ahart and Stensland readily admit to a gap between students and NISG at times, and they hope this tour will create a more open relationship.

“I am excited to hear about problems I was unaware of,” Ahart said.

“It’s an awesome way for us to stay connected with students, and to keep us grounded,” Stensland commented.

Stensland and Ahart will continue working on initiatives like maintaining and building lobbying relationships and adding diversity-centered curriculum. Stensland notes that November’s election will change the way NISG has lobbied previously, as students will need to shift toward creating relationships with new legislators as opposed to maintaining established relationships.

Mostly, however, they are enthusiastic to start anew.

“The White-Bernhard Administration has done awesome work, and they have shown the power of student government on completing initiatives,” Stensland said. “Moving forward, we want to look at how we can develop relationships with people outside of NISG while developing a team atmosphere within NISG — which has been somewhat of a struggle this year.”

“No one is more important than another, and that starts with us. We are here to be a team,” Ahart added.

Ahart and Stensland also want to prioritize their accessibility and transparency. They urge students to seek them out.

“Please stop us if you have an issue you want to talk about. Besides that, if you see us working in the Union, feel free to stop by and say hi,” Stensland encouraged.

The Stensland-Ahart Administration is also currently accepting applications for their Upper Cabinet positions until April 2. Upper Cabinet positions are paid, and positions include directors of diversity, finance, governmental relations and public relations, as well as the position of chief of staff. Both Stensland and Ahart encourage students from all backgrounds to apply through the NISG website.