Auburn Spotlight, Dane Block

AUBURN
SPOTLIGHT
"I’m so thankful to have this opportunity and live it every single day."
Dane Block
SGA President
AUBURN SPOTLIGHT

Spotlight Interview

Dane Block, a junior studying finance from Huntsville, serves as the 2018-2019 Student Government Association, or SGA, president.

How did you end up at Auburn?

My mom graduated from Auburn in ’91. When I was in high school, I was really torn between a few things—I wanted to go play football and had a few opportunities, but I also wanted to go to school and attend Auburn. For the longest time, people would ask me where I wanted to go, but I didn’t know. One time, a lady from church asked me, and I quickly said “I’m going to Auburn!” I thought, “Wait, I said I’m going to Auburn.” I had to check myself and realize that Auburn was just the place I needed to be. I’ve really enjoyed it and never looked back.

How did you get involved with SGA?

The Freshman Leadership Program was the kick-start, and then I got involved with Cabinet at the end of my freshman year. I served as director of the organizational seating program, and that opportunity with former SGA president Jesse Westerhouse and his administration sparked all of this. Junior year I ran for and was elected to serve as a senator for the College of Business.

Cabinet taught me that relationships are above all else; they last and go so much further than any policy ever will. Senate taught me that there is a method to the madness. Policy provides structure for the change we want to see, and serving in that role gave me the other side of the SGA perspective.

Last summer, and even into August, if you had told me I would be in this position, I would’ve said you’re crazy. It wasn’t until I did a campaign for Miss Homecoming that I realized I love Auburn, I love people— all people, no matter where they’re from, what they look like, and maybe I should give it a shot. I did and I’m so thankful to have this opportunity and live it every single day.

During your campaign you mentioned how you hoped to “serve” as president. What does that mean to you?

To me, serving looks like setting everything you have down and turning your focus from yourself to whatever else is around you. In a classroom, that looks like serving my peers in a group project, being present in class or giving the teacher the attention they need and deserve.

The SGA mission statement is to serve, promote and unify, and I’ve realized in my role in this position is to make sure the students, my executive team and everyone in student involvement has every single resource they need to be successful. That could be guidance, support, love—I’m a big love guy—whether it’s all those things or an idea from another school, a contact they may need, whatever it may be, I’m here to set everything I want to pursue aside and do what’s best for the students and what they desire. They’re the ones who elected me and I don’t want to let them down.

Some days I realize the weight of that, and as I get deeper into the job I see that it’s some deep stuff, but at the same time, that’s fun. I love putting my ear to the ground, gather a pulse on the students and being able to voice that to administrators. I never wake up and think, “I have to go to the office today.” The mentality is that I get to do these things.

What are your goals for your term?

As an executive team, we solidified our goals and will be sending those out soon. We’re excited to send that out to students so they know what we’re working on. It’s transparent, but at the same time, we want to be held accountable for everything we hope to accomplish.

Something that’s big for Auburn is that there’s a lot of changes going on, but I don’t think students see the amount. They see the cranes of course, but that’s just a small portion. There’s change in policy, change in dining contracts, change in administrators, and most everyone is serving in a new role with Steven Leath as president. Utilizing students’ voices and empowering them through these changes is my goal for my time here.

Specifically, something I’m super passionate about is the American Talent Initiative, which is a collaboration between Bloomberg Philanthropies and top-notch universities focused on creating new opportunities for low-to-middle income families to be able to send their kids to schools like Auburn.

At the end of the day, there’s a statistic that 50,000 students with a 3.5 GPA with a top 10 percent SAT/ACT score do not apply to college, whether it’s due to the fact they can’t provide financially or it’s a community around them that doesn’t have goals of going to college, and that breaks my heart. I’ve absolutely loved my Auburn experience thus far and I would give this opportunity to anybody that even had a thought about Auburn, so I want Auburn to do anything they can to have these opportunities and give them to students who are considering Auburn.

Have you had any mentors at Auburn?

Jesse Westerhouse—I love that guy. I got to know him at the end of freshman year, and we had a bible study every Tuesday morning at Byron’s Smokehouse that we still do even though he and James Beauchaine have left Auburn. Getting to watch Jesse serve, I would always look at him like ‘wow, that’s really cool,’ but also getting to see his compassion and love for people. I always looked up to him and he’s always given me really great advice and guidance.

Jackson Fite is my big brother in my social fraternity, and he’s taught me a lot about how to control emotions. I go to him whenever I need perspective, but I also just enjoy his presence. From an administration standpoint, Jon Waggoner is someone I’ve gotten to know over the past six to eight months, and I didn’t know that the one time I walked into his office would turn into the friendship we have. I can always go to him to run ideas, concerns and thoughts by him. He’s just the dad I don’t have down here.

What are your plans after graduation?

I honestly have no clue, because I know wherever it is, I’ll be in a spot where the Lord has a plan for me. In the early stages of college, I felt like I had to figure out a plan and go to graduate school, and it wasn’t until last fall that I thought “I have three more semesters, I’m looking so far ahead that I’m missing out on opportunities here and now.” Whether it’s a job, graduate school, Teach for America or I say “peace,” and grab my book bag and travel for a few years, who knows.

How do you balance being a student and SGA president?

My roles before this one didn’t take as much effort and balancing, but this has been hard. Sometimes you have to pick and choose what you do, and it’s tough, but I realize that I’m here to be a student—that’s the end goal every single day to serve in that capacity. You tag on student body president, mesh it all together and go about your day. I always go to class. Even during campaign week, I never missed a class. That’s a time I can close off, get away from the computer and focus on my studies.

What’s your favorite way to relax?

Something I’ve really enjoyed this spring is going to baseball games. I’ll be walking by and see there’s a game, so I’ll sit out in the outfield or bring a lawn chair and just sit on the first baseline by myself. I love that, and it’s prime time with the weather this nice, I can wear shorts.

What’s something students probably don’t know about you?

I’ve torn my ACL three times through sports in high school. It taught me a lot about who I am as a person, and that if I’m passionate about something I need to go forth and chase it, no matter what happens. The time spent in the therapy room while my buddies were practicing really taught me how to persevere and face adversity with a boldness that’s unprecedented.

Also, I can wiggle my ears.