The origin story of a good politician always starts early. For Adam Koch, it began with Drake University student politics and a journey that made him win Drake’s student body president position. With concerns ranging from affordable parking to safety on campus with a raging pandemic, Koch shows us you can still lead with empathy and intelligence even in stressful times. Koch is a current junior who originally became involved in Drake’s Student Senate as a student senator.
Then, he leaped at the opportunity to create a campaign that would end up making him Drake’s student body president.
Q: What inspired you to run for Student Body President?
A: “I had more ideas I wanted to implement that I didn’t feel like I had the time to as a senator,” said Koch. “Running for student body president was an opportunity to expand on some ideas I’ve had, and to use some of my background with leadership experience in health and wellness would aid well, especially in the time of a pandemic.”
Koch’s campaign season began a little differently than previous years for student presidents. With Des Moines as a media hub for the 2020 Election, the campus was already fired up with passionate political opinions and awareness when the year was cut short due the COVID-19 Pandemic. Suddenly, the pandemic impacted the ability to connect with the campus in person.
Q: How did the Covid-19 pandemic impact the campaign process?
A: “I assumed we would all be in person, but at the time I think everybody was a bit unsure on how Covid-19 would impact [the campaign],” said Koch. “It had it’s benefits and drawbacks. It was nice to be able to speak to as many people as possible. When you’re on campus, you can speak to people in person so it’s easier to tend to people physically where they’re at, but they still were able to tune in online.”
Despite the online campaign, Koch shifted around his original goals for the school to new goals that would better fit the new needs of students.
New student concerns were based around the turbulent political atmosphere in the United States and the ever-growing concern surrounding the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Q: What have you done so far while in office regarding Covid-19?
A: “I’ve had weekly meetings with all the deans of the different colleges to find different ways, different strategies, different ideas to fit the needs of all the classrooms and professors for each major,” said Koch. “I know we spent a lot of time working with the College of Arts and Sciences, especially because doing an online bio lab or online study of music can be extremely difficult.”
Before the pandemic, student concerns surrounded changes in parking, the number of political clubs on campus and the impacts of election events held so close to campus. Now, with this virus raging, students feel less concerned with their quality of cafeteria food and the cost of parking and more concerned with if they’ll be safe on campus, virus testing and whether or not they’ll have the tools to access their online classes.
Q: How has the pandemic affected your time in office?
A: “In my place in the senate, I’m a deal-broker,” said Koch. “I communicate with school administrators and officials to get some questions answered, as well as get some services provided and channel in some student concerns. There is a real disconnect, and the administrators and our place in the senate gave us the advantageous position of having relationships with administrators for conveying student needs.”
Koch’s Personal Goals for the Student Body
Q: What are your personal goals and motivation?
A: “Equity, inclusion and accessibility,” said Koch. “Accessibility was something I really wanted to focus on both before and after the pandemic. Sometimes, we forget about the community of students with disabilities, which presents itself in not-so-visible ways. I want to make sure individuals can access help through our offices, but we aren’t always talking about that.”
Even in a pandemic, he succeeded in a goal set five years in the making— securing the funding for free feminine hygiene products to become available throughout campus.
Q: What advice do you have for students who want to run for office in the future?
A: “Know yourself and know others,” said Koch. “Also, take the opportunity to use the strengths you already possess, but also take the time to figure out the parts of your leadership that you’re struggling with. Figure out a way to grow in that area. Good intentions serve others, and that’s the beauty of it.”
Q: Final thoughts on your year as president so far?
A: “It’s been an unconventional year, and while looking back we may not have gotten everything done that we wanted to on the student senate. However, I am very glad and proud for all the student senators and the students who raised their voices to bring awareness to problems and concerns. I’m only one small part of a whole.”
Advice on Running for Student Body President
At the end of the day, Koch’s approach to politics for the student body fuels itself on the mindset that what is most important is students feeling safe, secure and overall, heard at Drake University.
Becoming a future leader amounts to a full-time job that will throw things at you in a way you can’t always prepares for. Remember that it’s an opportunity to grow and learn, not only about yourself, but about the needs of others in your community.
Stay connected with Adam Koch
Adam Koch Personal Instagram – @adamkoch87
Drake Student Senate Instagram – @drakesenate