Hannah Clarke’s interest in government first sparked in high school through her involvement in Youth in Government, a program that allows students to serve in model governments at local, state, national and international levels. Since then, Clarke has carried her passion to college leading her to pursue a degree in political science in planning to attend law school.
During her time at Auburn, Clarke has also served at different levels in Auburn’s SGA. Her first role was a member of Freshman Forum. During this stage, she met her college mentor, India Way, who was a member of SGA’s senate. She was also influential in Clarke’s interest in becoming a member of the Senate at Auburn.
However, instead of running for an SGA position after Freshmen Forum ended, Clarke spent her spring semester of her sophomore year studying abroad in Europe, which allowed her time to discover her path at Auburn.
“Getting away and out of the bubble of Auburn, helped me realize what area I wanted to make an impact in on campus,” Clarke said.
After her return from studying abroad, Clarke chose to apply for a smaller role in Lobby Board through SGA in preparation for the upcoming elections for senate positions.
Members of Lobby Board through the SGA division serve as lobbyists for the university working with different administrators. They act as the voice of Auburn students to the members of the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate.
Through their efforts, they visited state legislators as Auburn representatives to discuss ideas around high education. Their main initiative was to work to receive more funding for higher education to cover the high costs to operate colleges with many people attending.
“As an advocate for higher education funding, Auburn needs money from the state to be able to carry out research projects that faculty members, administrators, and students are all working on and to have the technology resources to prepare us as students for future careers,” Clarke said.
Another initiative involved a push for voter registration to ensure students’ voices were heard through the voting process during the time to elect a new superintendent of education for Alabama and the upcoming national presidential election.
At the close of Clarke’s time with Lobby Board, she ran for Senate as an At-Large member. There are five At-Large members who represent the entire student body and are also voted on by the Auburn student body.
Clarke’s role for Senate is head of Student Affairs. Her committee acts as the voice for students to administrators, faculty and other SGA committees. Their main initiative this semester has been the Student Bill of Rights which selects 10 policies or rights from the online Policy E-Handbook and other education policies and put into an official document. The Student Bill of Rights applies to all students not limited to undergraduate students or students with specific majors.
“The hope is that it will be distributed at Camp War Eagle and other first-year experience programs for students when they first come to Auburn be aware of what is available to them,” Clarke said. “When we first came to Auburn as freshmen, we heard stories about college but we never knew the truth about what we could do as students, such as our right to go in front of the honesty board.”
Another initiative the student senate recently completed is updating the election laws for the upcoming elections in the spring and for elections in years to come. In the spring, there will be changes regarding the role of Miss Auburn and what rules candidates running for SGA must follow during elections.
“The point of these upgrades is for the safety of the students and what the students want,” Clarke said. “If you’re in the SGA or the campaign world you might not see these changes as a problem, but for students not in it, they get bombarded the week of campaigns and ultimately the changes are what the student body as a whole want.”
Students whose involvement lies in other areas than SGA have voiced concerns about being bombarded during the week of campaigns. The changes to the election laws are an effort to improve what the students want.
“Come spring elections, it will be a very positive change, and I can’t wait to see what happens with that,” Clarke said.