The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Student body pres. loves every minute

It’s hard to fathom dedicating 40 hours per week outside your 15-hour course-load to a high-stress job that won’t earn you a penny, never having time to socialize on any given night — including weekends — and still managing to sustain a perpetually beaming smile on your face.

In fact, most undergrads would probably laugh in someone’s face if ever offered such a seemingly good-for-nothing, thankless proposition.

But this unyielding scenario has defined the life of 21-year-old Chip Hiemenz, Southern Methodist University’s student body president, for the last four months. And, as anyone who’s crossed his path can clearly observe, he wholeheartedly loves every single, demandingly busy second of it.

A member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, it’s not uncommon to spot Hiemenz hammering away in his small, third-floor, Hughes-Trigg office, putting in hours whenever possible — before, after and in between his classes — as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 2 a.m., to make SMU all it can be.

Hiemenz, who collaborates with Student Body Officers Liz Healy and Gabe Travers on a weekly basis, said the necessary keys to surviving his unordinary schedule are time management and communication.

According to Travers, SMU’s student body secretary, Hiemenz strives to keep everyone informed at all times.

“Chip is a great leader for a team,” said Travers. “He obviously meets with President Turner and many other people a lot and he’s really good at communicating what’s going on at all levels of the university with everyone who’s involved.”

However, Hiemenz, who also plays lacrosse for the Mustangs, will be the first to admit his presidential duties are so time consuming that “a girlfriend is out of the question.” But even so, Hiemenz will readily affirm anyone’s suspicions that the hard work is more than worth the effort.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., the junior marketing major has always been considered a natural-born leader by his peers, exhibiting such qualities in everything from athletics to trying to provide his little brother, a high school senior, with a positive role model.

Doug Harbison, a St. Louis-native who’s attended school with Hiemenz his entire life, said Hiemenz has always been a man other students find themselves exuberant to follow. “Through my interaction with Chip in football and lacrosse, he was always an excellent leader, always setting a positive example for the younger guys,” said Harbison.

Harbison also added that at the end of their freshman lacrosse season at SMU, Hiemenz was “already up for defensive captain of the team.”

Although Hiemenz exudes a calming air of professionalism and leadership that makes him appear light-years ahead of his classmates, he concedes he never anticipated landing the position of, or even campaigning for, student body president.

Unlike most collegiate politicians, Hiemenz wasn’t even that involved as a first-year student.

It wasn’t until sophomore year that Dustin Odom, then student body president, encouraged Hiemenz to become more active, directing Hiemenz toward Student Senate. After taking part in the university’s “Emerging Leaders” program, Hiemenz became the Student Senate chief-of-staff last year, during which time he oversaw 10 chairs of the senate.

As serving as a sort of liaison for numerous senate committees, Hiemenz began to sharpen his managerial skills and “[his experience] even helped [him] to have a very broad range of involvement on campus,” he said.

Before long, Hiemenz found himself running for student body president last spring. After his victory, Hiemenz attested he ran because “[he] wants SMU to be a better place when he leaves than when [he] arrived.”

And even though this inspirational sound-byte may appear politically hackneyed and stereotypical on paper, Hiemenz has made some huge strides toward improving the university, specifically for students.

Currently, Hiemenz is fighting to revamp the Memorial Health Center, and he single-handedly planned and developed a Student Membership Committee Task Force and an Appropriations Committee Task Force in order to discern whether or not the student senate’s current structure is the best model to represent all the campus voices.

Hiemenz has also established the Hilltop Watch Committee, a group focused on making the campus a safer place.

He argued students, as well as the SMU PD, must take a more offensive stance toward fighting campus crime. “A lot of campus safety revolves around being too reactive,” said Hiemenz, now wide-eyed, sitting on the edge of his seat and speaking wildly with his hands. “People shouldn’t be afraid to call SMU police. They’re there to help. We need to be proactive here.”

But even Hiemenz confirmed that not everything can be prevented. He thoroughly enjoys the sporadic days when everything runs smoothly, but he admits at a university like SMU, a completely frictionless day rarely makes itself known.

Just recently, TABC officials and boatloads of underage drinkers warranted some stressful headaches for Hiemenz and the other student body officers.

According to Healy, the event forced officials to do some “crisis management” to keep everyone happy.

Mimicking his standpoint on campus crime, Hiemenz defended the administration and said the university was forced to take the necessary, proactive steps to protect the school’s image.

“Minors may not agree,” said Hiemenz. “But the university had a huge responsibility to take action. The last thing SMU needs is a front-page story in The Dallas Morning News about how the school condones underage drinking. What sort of message would that send to the community?”

And when asked if he’s considered running for another term, Hiemenz suddenly becomes silent and thinks for a moment before consenting that “it’s an interesting consideration.”

But, for now, Hiemenz has put the prospects of another year as top dog on the back-burner to focus his sights on molding SMU into a university that’s more geared toward serving all of its students than anxiously attempting to appease the alumni.

“I’m absolutely marketing SMU to the students,” he said. “There are so many aspects people don’t know about. and I want everyone to see those things. We have the ability to make this place so much better.”

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