We recently had the pleasure of sitting down at our favorite spot on campus (you guessed it, Greyhouse) and chatting with two of Purdue’s best and brightest leaders, Joe Rust and Lexi Hiland. The duo are running for Purdue Student Government President and Vice President, and although the two seem as different as day and night, their partnership is one that will take them places. This fact was apparent from the way they completed each other’s sentences, to way they spoke so highly about each other, to the way they joked about all the funny anecdotes they’ll have to tell their grandchildren (mutual or not) about their campaigning experiences. But don’t take our word for it… read it and believe it.
Joe: I’m Joe Rust, a sophomore from Seymour, Indiana, studying agriculture. I’m the youngest of thirteen kids and I’m running for student body President.
Lexi: And I’m Lexi Hiland, a junior from Carmel, Indiana in film studies. I’m an only child and I’m running for student body Vice President alongside Joe.
What made you decide to run for student body President and Vice President?
Joe: It was on a bus ride coming back from Kansas City with a bunch of agriculture students at Purdue that another ag senator and I decided to walk around and talk to the other students on the bus about issues on campus. We spent three hours going seat to seat just talking one on one with them and I had so much fun. I remember getting off the bus and thinking about how much I enjoyed those three hours and then thinking that becoming Purdue Student Government President was the perfect way to continue that; talking to leaders on campus and getting their thoughts about issues at Purdue.
I then started looking for a running mate who would be a good fit, someone who wouldn’t think of the same ideas as me, but would compliment me and cover my weaknesses. I got a list of names from some friends and Lexi was on the list so we met up for lunch and I told her I’d talk to her about it more after winter break.
Lexi: So I’m unloading my stuff at Theta after winter break and Joe walks in with a sorority sister of mine, Erin Whittaker, and with his roommate. He walks right up to me, gets down on one knee, and says, “Lexi will you be my running mate.” He then pulls out a Purdue pin and says, “take this in honor of your love for Purdue”… and the rest is history. And somewhere in there I said, “I will” or “maybe” or “if I have to” [laughing]. I can’t remember.
What is your vision for the future of Purdue?
Joe: I want to see Purdue coming together. Different races, students from different countries, majors, and religions. There’s just a lot of diversity on campus and there are so many opportunities to work together to learn about other people and other cultures and we aren’t taking advantage of that. We could create such a strong network. We’re all going to go out one day to change the world in different ways and in different places. Creating that network here while we’re still students will keep us connected in the future as Boilermakers always.
Lexi: I really want to make it a goal that students are aware of what’s available to them through the university. We want to create videos for students, go out and talk to them, making sure that they know they can be involved with things using their unique interests. We want to make students know, especially the younger students, that they can use their unique skills on campus. We want them to know what resources are available to them, and not just with legal services or academics. We want to let them know they can be involved and make their experience at Purdue an even bigger tradition.
I’m a film major so initially I guess you wouldn’t think there was something I could have a leadership position in except pertaining to film. But seeing that I can use those skills within an organization, like Old Masters, to make the call out video and other things, and even getting an internship from that leadership position, it really shows that anyone can get involved and what great opportunities it can lead to.
Lexi, tell us something great about your running mate Joe.
What do I chose?! Joe has impressed me in so many ways. The top two I can think of are his genuine care for other students and finding out what they need to make their experience better at Purdue. He’s open to talking to anyone and he wants to know what they’re doing and wants to be a part of it. His confidence is so appealing.
Also, his knowledge about the university, all the ins and outs of Purdue, is so apparent and incredible. He knows faculty members, knows the system, and cares about how it works. He wants to be a part of something that is incredibly special to him and others, and the way he communicates that with university members he knows is honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It’s very professional yet at the same time personal.
Joe, it’s your turn. Tell us something great about Lexi.
Since day one Lexi has surprised me. She has not stopped impressing me. She keeps me in check and makes sure we’re going in the right direction for the right reasons. I’ve been in awe of how she catches me on my slips. I’m really lucky to have someone like her who can do that. She’s so creative. She has a passion for the things she loves, you can see how important film, music, and photography are to her. She sees things that I don’t. I love that. She brings a fresh perspective and that’s something that will be great in Purdue Student Government and the more and more time we spend together I am so confident she would make a great Vice President.
Why should people vote for you?
Joe: Campaigning is like a giant brainstorming session. It’s all about the leaders of Purdue thinking of the best ways to improve the school. So the ideas are out there. But it’s not about who can come up with the best ideas, it’s who can make them happen. We can make those ideas a reality. Not only can we implement those ideas, the whole idea of our campaign is ONE Purdue. It’s about removing the barrier between Purdue Student Government and the students, and making sure the flow of ideas are constantly coming in.
Lexi: Joe and I make an incredible team and we’ve had a lot of support that has been able to help us grow in the way that we work together. And that support system will never leave. We’ll still go to them with ideas and have them help us improve. And we’re so open with each other, we can work in a way where we understand each others weaknesses and strengths and we can strengthen our roles because we strengthen each other. Plus we’re genuine buds ☺.