Julian Neely, a junior in journalism and mass communication from Des Moines, has been involved in campus politics since his freshman year. He was elected Iowa State’s student body president on March 8 and will serve the university his last year at Iowa State.
What are you currently involved in?
I’m involved in Black Student Alliance and Student Government. I’m chair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee. I’m also involved in the Academic Program for Excellence and my fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
How did you first get involved with campus politics?
It started with the Black Student Alliance. After what happened at the Cy-Hawk game in 2015 with the protests, a lot of people who were impacted by that were my friends or people whom I looked up to. So, when the Black Student Alliance had meetings about protests or action plans, I really just saw what they were doing and wanted to be involved. Also, before coming to Iowa State I was involved with protests with Black Lives Matter.
Why were you interested in being involved with political organizations on campus?
I was tired of sitting back and seeing this stuff happen. Talking with my friends about it, I wanted to see action made, so I felt that to be able to do that I had to get up and actually do something about it. Also, I didn’t know where my little brother was going to go to college, and I wanted to make sure Iowa State’s campus was more welcoming to him than it might have been to others.
Why did you decide to run for Student Government president?
I wanted to better serve students and make sure that everyone’s voice was being heard and considered when decisions were being made regarding the betterment of our university and our campus. Making sure everyone feels included is something I’m really passionate about.
How did you prepare for the campaign?
Really just talking to others who have run before. I talked with Rachael Barnes who ran in 2017, and she gave me some advice. We also met with students to get feedback.
What was your reaction when you found out you had won?
I was in disbelief for a minute because I was very nervous and anxious for the results, so when I saw it I just froze. My team was going crazy and I was like, “Oh my god, we really won.” There was so much excitement after that.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I’m looking to pursue a graduate program that focuses on student affairs/ student services.
Interview by Tara Larson. Edited for length and clarity.