Student body leader strives to connect with peers

Student Government president Keshav Rajagopalan works with President William Powers Jr. as part of his campus leader duties.
Student Government president Keshav Rajagopalan works with President William Powers Jr. as part of his campus leader duties. Marsha Miller

When he became Student Government president in April, Keshav Rajagopalan knew exactly what he was signing up to do and since then has spent 60 hours a week connecting with students, faculty and staff to improve campus life.

Rajagopalan began his Student Government career his freshman year when he began working with members through a program called the Longhorn Legislative Aide. The application-based internship gives students the opportunity to work closely with the Student Government executive board, representatives, committees and agencies.

The senior Plan II and political communications student was elected president this year after serving as the organization's internal financial director.

"Student Government is the official voice of students to the university administration, the Board of Regents and the Texas Legislature," he said. "Whenever student input is needed, we are the ones looked at and it is for the entire student body - undergraduate and graduate."

The organization's mission is to protect and preserve the traditions of the university and support student organizations in their academic and community endeavors.

"In Student Government there are no boundaries. If you have an initiative, it's a great place to get the resources and backing of Student Government," he said.

As president, Rajagopalan works hard and plays hard. He spends 60 to 70 hours a week shuffling between meetings on campus and at the Capitol and at night he catches up on schoolwork. Despite his hectic schedule, he still finds time to watch and play sports.

"What motivates me is falling in love with this place," he said. "You realize what is out there when you see the amazing students and faculty that come everyday to make sure you are getting an education and an experience that is unparallel to anywhere else.

"If I can take one more step to make somebody's life here a little bit better, I can go home and say 'that was a good day.'"

Student Government is affiliated with the Division of Student Affairs and members of the executive board work with Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly.

"The cool thing about UT is this is an amazing institution in the collaborative effort between students, faculty and staff," Rajagopalan said. "When we talk to other student government presidents, we are the motto that everybody strives to be because of that collaboration."

Rajagopalan started his tenure as president after a seven-month campaign process where he worked with other student leaders from across campus. He built his platform of ideas from student concerns and set the foundation for the year ahead.

"This year, we are trying to launch a communications campaign that will re-brand the organization because Student Government has a disconnect with students," he said. "We are working with the vice president for public affairs to create a secondary logo that shows we are a service and resource to students."

Rajagopalan's goal is to ensure students know where to go when they want to address campus or academic-related concerns.

The organization is also working on reconstructing the ticket booth outside the Beauford H. Jester auditorium.

"We want to make it a help desk where members of Student Government will staff regularly during the week," he said. "We are putting a face on Student Government and in the process putting a face on student life."