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Benedict: Term was a 'huge awakening'

EVAN CARAVELLI/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Student body president J.P. Benedict passes the reins of ASUA to Alistair Chapman today. "I made my mark on the university," he said.
By Dana Crudo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, May 3, 2004
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When J.P. Benedict was inaugurated as ASUA president last year, he was not only nervous to make the speech but also to fill the shoes of student leader for a whole year.

But Benedict, a marketing senior, said things have changed since that moment.

Today marks the end of what he called a "huge awakening" for him as a person and as a leader.

"I have learned to be more sure of myself since that moment," he said. "You learn to be sure of yourself in what you are doing because you represent all students at the UA."

But he said it was only two to three months ago that he finally felt like he knew what he was doing.

"My biggest obstacle was just the huge learning curve," he said.

The biggest surprise he encountered during his reign was the realization of just how big the UA is with approximately 37,000 students.

"Each individual student is doing something different; not everyone is a business major like me," he said. "It's hard to please everybody."

I made my mark on the university.

- J.P. Benedict, ASUA president


He said he used to assume that everyone would agree with his view. He thought some issues were "black and white, open and shut, good and bad."

But he said there were times when students who came from a different state or background simply said he was wrong.

"There are always things people are ignorant about," he said. "Taking into account different people and experiences gives you a broader perspective on school, students and life."

Benedict's focus this year was on campus culture and increasing ASUA awareness.

"I wanted to make it more fun and exciting to be a student," he said.

He cited UA Late Night and Zona Zoo as examples of how he accomplished his goal.

But in trying to do so, Benedict said he had some disappointments, primarily with the student activity fee.

"I am not disappointed necessarily with the outcome but I am disappointed with how I handled the issue," he said. "In retrospect, it had flaws that could be worked out."

But Benedict said the student activity fee was an example of what his term was all about: "Expanding the possibilities of what ASUA can do."

He said he had a different philosophy than most people within the organization.

"I am very encouraging of different ideas and perspectives," he said. "'Let's give it a try' is usually my answer to things."

Benedict gave the student activity a try, as well as advising contracts, a multicultural lounge, UA Late Night, the Student Foundation and Cat Chats.

"In a few years, you can look back and see what happened and how it finished," he said. "It's an exciting position to be in."

His advice to future student leaders is to always try ideas out and be passionate.

"Who knows? You might stumble upon something that affects hundreds of students or just a few students," he said. "Even if it is just a few students, if you make their life better, then you are a success."

Benedict said he would like to see three things next year, including more campus entertainment, expansion of class councils and improved awareness of ASUA.

While he admits he is burnt out by the job, Benedict said it will be a great thing to look back on and that politics is never off his radar.

"I made my mark on the university," he said.

Benedict's term will end today at noon when Alistair Chapman is inducted as ASUA president on the main stage of the UA Mall.

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