'Government dork' Driggs hopes to improve Union

By Veronica Hirsch

Arizona Summer Wildcat

Some people just have a knack for politics.

Successful almost in spite of themselves, they're the people who run for election on the spur of the moment and win. Or the people who say they never planned to run for office, but when they do, they win.

People like Ben Driggs.

Driggs, the new student body president, started his political "career" in high school. First he was elected sophomore class president, then junior class president and then student body president. He says he never expected to run for office again.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Driggs says he chose the University of Arizona over Stanford and Brigham Young University, not just because he won a four-year scholarship here (the Flinn) but because once he visited the campus, he knew it was the place he wanted to be.

During his first year he was very active in the Arizona Students' Association, a student lobbying group. But when he went on a two-year mission for his church to Ecuador, he assumed his foray into student politics was over. But once he returned, he again started working with ASA, was chosen to be director of ASA, and then was elected student body president. He just has a knack for it.

Wildcat: What do you really hope to accomplish next year?

Ben Driggs: Well, one of the major issues I'm working on is the need for a major renovation of the Student Union. The Student Union since 1987 has been on the list to receive a major renovation and nothing ever happens ... This is something I really want to push and (I want to) establish a definite timeline of when things are going to happen ... what I hope to have by the end of the year is to have ironed out how we are going to fund the new student union.

WC: What do you think about the Core Curriculum project?

BD: I like the idea of having a centralized freshman curriculum because one of the big problems students face is that if you start off as a business major, and then you change to the Arts and Sciences college, you suddenly have to change your General Education courses. (A core curriculum) will help students graduate in four years. It'll give students a great base ... but I don't want cookie-cutter courses that are just all the same. I think having a common group that you can transfer between the colleges is a good idea and I hope that the professors who teach these classes realize that they can still have the freedom to teach the things they know the most about ... if the faculty is excited about it, I think it'll be a wonderful program. It'll solve the advising problem.

WC: How do you feel about the recent department cuts?

BD: The tough thing is that I know the financial situation of the university, and (I know) we have to make cuts because of our budgets. We have increasing costs ... we're not getting money from the state legislature ... I support (making) specific cuts. But you have to cut the things that are least central to the university's mission, and the least meritorious, and have the least effect on student life, and that's a tough thing to determine ... every specific cut is going to hurt, I know that, but we have to make the cuts that hurt the least.

WC: Do you think you'll stay in politics after college?

BD: At this point I couldn't imagine running for public office just because it's ... the scrutiny that you're under ... it's just a very tricky ballgame. I'd like to stay active in things around the state but at this point I don't foresee myself running for a statewide office.

WC: Well, you might change your mind ...

BD: (Laughs) ... yeah, I mean, cause I never thought I was going to run for student body president ... so maybe, maybe things will change ... it's sort of the thing I joke about with my friends from high school. When they ask me what I'm doing now, I sort of joke and respond, "Well, basically the same thing I did in high school ... I'm still a student government dork ... you know, still just hanging around doing that student government thing."

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