Public servants offer advice


Sophie Hillmeyer

Becoming a public servant is not as daunting as it sounds. Whether you’re looking to be more involved in your community or get more citizenship hours for Superior Edge, NMU as well as the Marquette community as a whole is full of civic opportunities.

ASNMU President Tristan Ruiz, a junior biochemistry major, was accompanied by Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce Jason Schneider, Wednesday evening at the “Skill Builder!” workshop, Becoming a Public Servant. A group of five students sat around the speakers as they shared their experiences as public servants.

ASNMU is the student-run government on campus with the goal of making sure the voices of students are heard, Ruiz said. They have a constitution and list of bylaws to follow, so it is a good introduction to government, he added.

“It’s our job to advocate for, and represent students to NMU’s administration, faculty and the state-wide student association,” Ruiz said.

ASNMU is responsible for running programs that benefit the student body, such as the bike share program and the NMU food pantry. They hold weekly meetings, at 6:30 p.m. in the Charcoal Room on Mondays, that are open to all students, regardless of their involvement in ASNMU, as a platform for opinions to be shared, said Ruiz. Those meetings are a good way for students to get civic engagement hours, he added.

“A lot of what ASNMU is is making sure students have a unified place to go to if they have concerns or ideas, or just general programming to benefit students,” Ruiz said. “Not a lot of people always know about it, but there are ways to be involved and have your voice heard.”

In addition to ASNMU, there are a number of student committees with a more specific focus, such as parking and traffic regulations and the food advisory board, that are always looking for more involvement. ASNMU can provide students with information about these opportunities, Ruiz said.

“There are so many ways for students to get involved at the university level,” he added.
Community involvement is an important civic role, especially with all the injustices and things that need to be addressed within society, Schneider said.

“I’m really fascinated about getting as many people as possible involved in the world around us,” Schneider said. “You need to figure out what your reach is and stay within that and hope that others are doing the same.”

Schneider has served in various assets of local government and notes the importance of community input in making meaningful changes.

“Local government is the most important thing, and also the most boring thing possible when it comes to government,” Schneider said. “I highly recommend going to a city commission meeting and seeing how these things are done.”

City commission meetings are open to the public and are held at 6 p.m. on the first and third Monday of every month, Schneider said. Attending these meetings also counts for civic engagement hours for Superior Edge. Residents can serve two-year volunteer terms on committees in the Marquette government in areas, such as parks and recreation, to gain engagement.

“We all assume we don’t have any authority, but it’s surprisingly easy to make a difference,” Schneider said.