A perfect night for Charles Esterline ’21 would consist of watching a war movie while eating a pepperoni pizza and drinking a Mountain Dew Voltage Polar Pop. But that’s only if the Classics and Rhetoric double major can find time in between five classes and several leadership positions—including student body president.
Q: Leading the student body in the middle of a pandemic, what has that looked like?
A: Ever since the Student Senate chairmen and I began planning for this school year, we have felt an obligation to provide our students with the most authentic experience possible during this COVID era, and that’s a big responsibility. Unfortunately—but understandably—guidelines for event planning and health and safety took a while to take shape.
Once we all got into the swing of things, though, and became familiar with the new guidelines, we were able to start having events like “TGIF,” with food trucks and activities on the Mall every week. It has taken more communication, teamwork, and enthusiasm to create safe events for our community members this year, but what we’ve been able to organize has been really successful and well-attended. I’m really proud of everything Student Senate has accomplished so far this semester.
Q: What made you decide to run for the position in the first place?
A: I really wanted to help change the culture and the perception of student government on campus. I wanted to be more organized and give our guys the opportunity to gain more professional development skills. This year, we switched from using GroupMe to using Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Planner, and Box. These are tools I’ve used as a senior consultant for the Center for Innovation, Business, and Entrepreneurship (CIBE), and we’re seeing really great returns.
Q: Along those lines, you chose to your Rhetoric major first, but you later added Classics. What was it about Classics that made you want to double major?
A: I always thought I was a history buff growing up, and Classics is history on steroids. You’re studying the art, the language, the poetry, the interpretation, and you’re looking at how two huge Greco-Roman societies faced very similar issues that we face today and see how they adapted to adversity. There are still a lot of lessons we can learn if we turn to the past and look for guidance from antiquity. I think that’s why I love Classics. I love learning about it, but I also love learning about how to apply the lessons 2,000 years later.
Q: Okay, so you have two majors and five classes. You’re student body president, a CIBE senior consultant, a member of the Sphinx Club, and president of your fraternity, Lambda Chi.
A: (Laughs) Yeah, I’m a little busy.
Q: On a daily basis, what does your role as student body president look like?
A: I help my committees form their ideas, goals, tasks, and deadlines. I listen to students for their guidance and feedback about events. But I also work with our administration—President Feller, the Deans’ Office, and our CARE Team—on creating new initiatives, getting students involved, and making sure campus is healthy and safe.
Especially right now, this role can be a fine line to walk, but it’s also been my favorite part of the semester. I have had weekly opportunities to meet with leaders on campus to share opinions of students, and they care deeply about students’ interests, health, and safety. So, when I do voice a different perspective or a concern, I try not to elevate a problem without a solution. I don’t want to create more work for them; I want to work with them.
Q: How do you hope the student body sees you?
A: I hope I’m portraying a sense of empathy, charisma, and drive. I want them to see that, no matter how tough times may get, the Student Senate is fighting—with them and for them. I know that sounds cliché because “Wabash Always Fights,” but this year, we’re really showing how to be a Little Giant. And I hope that’s what the student body sees from me, the executive team, and the entire Senate. We’re trying to do as much as we can for the student body—not just because we want to but because the student body needs us to.