Jack Palen ’21 was elected the next ASLMU student body president, and Elsie Mares ’21, the next vice president, on Friday, April 3, 2020, by Loyola Marymount University students. Voter turnout was 41 percent in ASLMU’s first all-virtual election.
Palen, an international relations major with French and economics minors from Nashville, Tennessee, and Mares, a political science major and economics minor, from Lamont, California, ran on a platform of expanding health and wellness resources; first-generation and low-income student support and resources; service worker and employee visibility and appreciation; advocating for sustainable, responsible, and ethical investment practices and partnerships; cultivating Lion pride and an inclusive community; and supporting student artists and businesses.
Palen decided to run for ASLMU president because of how he has grown to love serving the LMU community over the past three years. “I wanted to take that service to the next level,” said Palen. “Elsie and I have been friends since living in the same learning community our freshman year, and I could not think of anyone as qualified or enthusiastic about service to ask to join me on a campaign for student government. We both wanted to translate our love for our community into action, so we decided to run.” Mares’ decision to run came in conversations she had with Palen and other friends. “I realized that I wanted to translate my love for LMU into service for this campus,” said Mares.
Palen said their main goal is to reduce the labor felt by student advocacy groups on campus with institutionalizing support for them in the highest levels of student government through visibility and communication of finance. Mares added, “Jack and I hope to promote growth in students by addressing some of the challenges that disproportionately affect certain groups, such as barriers that students in the first-generation and low-income communities face.” They hope to challenge their peers who may not be engaged in social justice to commit to being a person with and for others by providing opportunities to learn about a wide range of issues, such as race, gender identity, class, etc. “We hope to add to the LMU experience by providing meaningful programming and opportunities to be involved with advocacy,” said Mares.
Palen is part of the LMU Honors College and has been on the executive boards of the Interfraternity Council and the Lion Model United Nations Club. Mares is a member of the Belles service organization, the Intercultural Facilitator Program, Phi Delta Phi Pre-Law Honor Society, and Pi Beta Phi Sorority. Together, both Palen and Mares have a wide range of involvement experiences that have shaped their student experience at LMU. They both acknowledged that they will need to balance these commitments with their new leadership roles, while still finding ways to continue to support these groups and students.
For Palen, his biggest inspiration at LMU has been Allison Lane, assistant director of sorority and fraternity life, who has been a mentor for him since his first year on the bluff. “During my first year, I was considering transferring back home, and it was Allison who drove me to become more invested on campus,” said Palen. “She holds me accountable, teaches me professional expectations, and played a major role in my decision to run for ASLMU.”
Mares said her inspiration has been seeing the commitment to service and justice demonstrated by so many students, staff, and faculty. “I find my worldview challenged and developed by professors in the Political Science, Economics, History, and Theological Studies departments,” said Mares. “My engagement with service and advocacy has evolved because of what I have learned from pro-staff in the Center for Service and Action, Ethnic and Intercultural Services, and Student Affairs. My relationship with faith has grown and matured through the guidance of leaders in Campus Ministry and Latinx Retreat.”
The Palen and Mares campaign beat out the tickets of Alex Smith and Elsa Wilson, and Anya Montgomery and Taylor Pajuen.
ASLMU, in keeping with the Jesuit and Marymount traditions, empowers the voice of the students and actively promotes a vibrant campus life. Driven by integrity, ASLMU devotes itself to being persons for and with others. For more information, visit ASLMU.org.