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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Passing the torch

Student Body President Conner Prochaska spent Monday afternoon dressed in khakis and a sky-blue polo, hard at work in his Koldus office answering e-mails, phone calls and shuffling through papers at his desk.
“There is a lot left to do to before the transition,” Prochaska said.
He explained that each member of the executive council is busy going through a transition checklist by writing progress reports, year-end-reviews and contact lists for the students who will inherit their positions.
Prochaska has made a commitment to see that Aggies participate in the College Station elections April 28-May 10 to ensure that student-friendly city officials are elected.
SBP-elect Mark Gold was in and out of the office exchanging words and papers with Prochaska. Gold was busy preparing himself for the upcoming year. He will be sworn into office on April 21.
Gold was in full business attire and sporting a signature gold tie. “I have quite a lot of these now,” he said, jokingly.
Transition of leadership is a vitally important process in student government, explained Prochaska.
“When I was elected, I came from the outside never having served on executive council, and it takes a while to learn the process,” he said. “Mark served on the executive team last year, so he has the experience, but this is still an important time.
“I learned how to use [Microsoft] Outlook. I learned to manage my calendar – not just time management – to juggle meetings and speeches. I became a much better public speaker as the year progressed. As SBP, I became more aware of everything I was doing or said because people take their SBP seriously. Every day I was representing the needs of students at Texas A&M University, not representing the needs and ideas of Conner Prochaska.
“Being SBP was a blast – I loved this job a lot, and it was a huge honor.”
He said the job consumed his schedule and he had to be intentional about participating in non-SGA-related activities to avoid being sucked into the executive bubble.
“It is easy to just wake up in the morning and put on a suit, then go from meeting to meeting all day and come home late at night to go to sleep, wake up and do it all over the next day,” Prochaska said. “What other students do this all day? Nobody! I made an effort to keep a balance and go to places where normal people hang out, like Relay for Life, or going to Northgate, where I do not have to be trapped in a suit.”
Prochaska said he has few regrets about his tenure as SBP. “One of our biggest goals was to increase communication between SGA, student organizations and students from all backgrounds. We were able to pull a diverse set of new faces into Student Government this year who were not ‘SGA-lifers,’ and I think we accomplished our goal,” he said. “We have more Greeks, more minorities and more diversity in the leadership of SGA this year.”
He said that there have been some complaints about lack of communication and it will be a continuing struggle for student leadership. “I am glad that there are complaints because if students didn’t complain, I would be afraid that they didn’t care. The fact that students complain means that they care.”
His biggest regret is not having said “thank you” every time he finished talking with an audience of students or administrators.
“I said ‘thank you’ a lot this year, but not every time. It was such an honor to serve as SBP. I wish I would have said ‘thank you’ every time,” Prochaska said.
Student service fees were a struggle this year, but Prochaska credits the current fees rate as a defining success for his administration.
“The end of last semester was filled with work on student service fees,” Prochaska said. “I credit Frank Barat [the executive director of academic affairs], Rich Pontious [the executive director of student service fees], Derek Devine [the executive chief of staff] and others for our success. They wrote a fees report which looked at each proposed fee increase and made individual recommendations to accept or reject each one. These recommendations were 100 percent student effort and went almost unchanged by University President Elsa Murano.”
Prochaska described himself as an “executive hood ornament” when it came to Student Service Fees and other endeavors.
“I go to the meetings, gather the information, express my opinion, but the others are doing real work researching and writing reports like the Student Service Fees report,” he said.
Other highlights of Prochaska’s tenure include approving the Memorial Student Center renovations that will begin in 2009 and the selection of A&M’s President.
“Murano is very concerned about student input and I am excited to have her serving as the president of Texas A&M University,” he said.
“I could not have done any of these things on my own,” Prochaska said. “We had a united student front this year, as opposed to previous years, and I was privileged to have worked with such great people within SGA, the MSC and others.
“The only reason that anyone takes SGA seriously is because of those who came before us. Outstanding guys like Nic Taunton and Jim Carlson made the SBP a respectable position, and Mark Gold will continue that tradition.”
Only time will tell what the future holds for Gold, but his executive mandate is clear. Gold won his election with 5,986 votes and 75.31 percent of the vote, a stark contrast to 2007’s hotly contested race in which Prochaska received 50.66 percent of 9,232 ballots cast, defeating his opponent, Derek Devine, by 121 votes.
Prochaska will graduate in May, but hasn’t put down concrete ideas for the future.
“I don’t know [what I’m going to do],” he said. “I will take a month off to go home and decompress after this year. I will also consider different job opportunities and the military, possibly the Navy.”
Prochaska said that he missed just hanging out with friends, and his work offered no time to pursue a steady girlfriend or just sit back for a day.
“This was a very busy year,” Prochaska said. “Grades also took a hit, but fortunately I am a fifth-year senior with an easy schedule. There were a lot of times I just wanted to sit back and hang out and do nothing for a day, but I could not. I always felt guilty and that I needed to be doing something because I only get one year for this job.
“This was a great year. As corny as our slogan may sound, ‘Every Aggie, Every Day,’ we really meant it, and you know if you say something enough, people will start believing it, too.”

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