Student government president works overtime to fix problems
By Jill Steiner
Photo provided by Mark Simmons
Eric Barnard (left), Purdue Student Government president, speaks with student leaders and administrators. Barnard worked to help student organizations find new ways to communicate on campus.
Although Eric Barnard grew up on a farm in the small town of Flora, Ind., he has big aspirations.
The senior agricultural finance major went from a graduating class of 88 at Carroll Junior-Senior High School to representing 32,000 students as president of Purdue Student Government. But it wasn't just ambition that guided him; those who know him say his strong work ethic is an important part of his success.
"It was instilled in me at a young age that you were expected to work hard. My father and grandfather were always working and there was never time to be lazy," said Barnard.
That work ethic has helped him solve real campus problems. One of his biggest challenges was to help clubs find new ways to communicate with students after the university prohibited sidewalk fliers - the main way groups delivered their messages - because of concerns about litter.
"Communication at Purdue is critical because if students do not know about the events and activities taking place, they will not know how to get involved on campus," said Laura Kightlinger, a senior accounting major from Indianapolis and president of the Krannert School of Management ambassadors. "Because of Eric's collaborative efforts and persistence, there are several forms of communication in the final stages of implementation," said Kightlinger.
During his year as president, Barnard collaborated with individual students and organizations on several projects to help students be more aware and involved in activities, events and organizations. That took a lot of work and organization. "On a typical day, I have at least four meetings or more with university adminstrators and other student leaders to try to make the student experience better at Purdue," said Barnard.
While other students are studying, sleeping or hanging out with friends, Barnard is working with student leaders on his newest project or simply supporting activities other students are sponsoring. Barnard has even been known to talk about student government business on Friday nights. That comes as no surprise to those who know him.
"His work doesn't stop when he leaves the student government office," said Kyla Hebard, a senior chemical engineering major from Emory, Va., and chief of staff of Purdue Student Government. "He is consistently working or thinking about projects. If there's an event on campus, he's always there."