Last glance: Dylan Lustig reflects on his past year as Student Association president
Allen Chiu | Design Editor
As a child, Dylan Lustig wanted to be a superhero. He wanted to be the good guy.
Once, when Lustig and his twin brother were playing superheroes, his brother announced that he himself would be the good guy and Lustig would be the bad guy. Lustig began to cry.
“They have that on video, which is kind of embarrassing,” Lustig said, laughing. “But that’s just how I’ve always been. I’ve always wanted to help people.”
Years later, Lustig’s goals haven’t changed. Shortly after he arrived on Syracuse University’s campus, he became involved with Student Association and quickly rose through the ranks. Lustig became president of SA as a sophomore, a position that is traditionally held by a junior.
Though one of the things Lustig said he learned as president was that “taking credit for things is not worth it,” members of his cabinet disagree and credit Lustig with a great deal.
Several cabinet members said Impact Week, a weeklong community service project, was one of the bigger accomplishments of Lustig’s presidency.
The event was originally supposed to be a day of community service for the campus, but eventually evolved into a weeklong event, which gave SA an opportunity to give back to the community even more, current Vice President and President-elect Allie Curtis said.
“I think that was the great part where Dylan had a vision and it ended up being even bigger than we had even initially expected,” Curtis said.
Lustig’s work with DPS was also cited as one of his more impressive initiatives. Because he is so personable and friendly, said Janine Savage, chief of staff, students felt comfortable coming to Lustig with concerns about safety, among other things.
Oftentimes, students wonder what SA does that directly affects them, said Jenn Bacolores, Board of Elections and Membership chair. But with Lustig’s work with DPS, she said, students were able to see the effects of SA’s work.
One of the things Lustig said he was most proud of was his work advocating for low interest rates on Federal Stafford Loans.
“I like to consider myself right in the middle class,” he said. “My dad actually got laid off twice. Two times in one month. It was very hard.”
He said he saw that many students on campus were struggling due to the economy, and the idea of loan interest rates doubling — at a university where 80 percent of students receive aid of some kind — was startling.
Lustig sent letters to President Barack Obama and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.); participated in conference calls with student government presidents from across the country; got campus organizations to sign petitions; and went to the Board of Trustees asking for help, which prompted them to send a letter to Congress.
He also cited his work on the White Ribbon Campaign with the Vera House and collaboration with the Department of Public Safety, which led to the creation of the DPS Advisory Board, as items he was particularly pleased with.
But certain initiatives, like Keep the Change Syracuse, which would donate the change rounded up to the dollar from SUperfood money purchases, and the no-fee ATM initiatives, were not completed during Lustig’s presidency.
Lustig said he did not expect the Keep the Change Syracuse initiative to be completed this semester and that he will continue to work on this issue when Curtis takes office. He also said the no-fee ATM initiative has been held up waiting for responses from the appropriate parties and administrators.
Difficulties such as money improperly allocated to SA’s formal last spring and the resignation of Lustig’s Chief of Staff Taylor Carr (who was later replaced by Savage) did cause problems during Lustig’s presidency.
But, Lustig moved forward from these issues, said Stephen DeSalvo, SA comptroller.
As SA president, Lustig focused on creating a comfortable environment and worked on building relationships, both personal and professional, within the organization, DeSalvo said.
“Dylan thought that in the past there was just too much negativity around people in the office,” he said. “Too much negativity in general that didn’t necessarily prohibit things from getting done, but didn’t help retention of members.”
Because of his personality and positive attitude, Savage said, students felt they could connect with and talk to Lustig. She said students, both in and out of SA, felt they could approach Lustig with problems they’d like to see SA address.
“The way he interacts with students, the way he interacts with the assembly and administration is just fantastic and very personable,” Curtis said. “He’s fun to be around and he always brings a really great energy into the office.”
Since he came into the presidency as a sophomore, many suspected Lustig would serve two terms. It’s something he thought a lot about, Lustig said, but he ultimately decided not to, citing the opportunity to study abroad in France as one of his main deterrents.
As an international relations major, Lustig said, studying abroad was always a dream of his. His late great-uncle, whom Lustig calls his “greatest inspiration,” was a World War II veteran, and while Lustig is abroad in France, he plans to travel his uncle’s path.
As a younger president, Savage said, Lustig brought fresh, new ideas to the table and wasn’t burnt out yet. Understandably, she said, many people get worn out going into their senior year, but this was not the case with Lustig.
Savage said she feels he has inspired underclassmen to get involved and “go big.” This year, she said, another sophomore, Iggy Nava, ran for president.
“I think Dylan kind of told people it doesn’t matter what year you are. If you want to do something and you want to do something on campus, then you can do it,” Savage said.
PJ Alampi, chair of the Student Life Committee, said he and Lustig, along with a handful of other juniors, have all been together in SA since their freshman year. Alampi and Lustig joined the assembly in their second weekend on campus.
Now every member of that original group is a part of SA’s cabinet, playing a major role in the organization.
“It was amazing to see him step into the position,” Alampi said. “It’s cool to see that someone so young can really find his footing and work so closely with a large group of students to help them find their way.”
Published on November 29, 2012 at 12:03 am