Most people win political positions through hard work and long hours spent campaigning, but others just step into the role. Jim Purcell (COL ’05) recently won the senior GUSA seat without even trying, thanks to the work of his two friends Kevin McAuliffe (COL ’05) and Brian McLaughlin (COL ’05). Launching a successful write-in bid with strategic e-mails to friends, the two landed their unsuspecting buddy on the assembly Sept. 30. Although Purcell had no previous interest in the position, he has come to accept his role and the responsibilities that follow.

How does it feel to be so popular in the senior class?

It’s been an interesting week or two. So many people have come up to me to congratulate me on it and, obviously, having not actually run for office, it was a big surprise. So it’s been fun talking to my friends about what they expect out of me as their new representative.

When exactly did you find out that you had won?

The night it was announced. It was only about 24 hours earlier that my friends e-mailed a large group of people asking them to vote for me, and they just told me that I needed to come to the Leavey Center with them because there was something big going on. I had no clue what they were referring to.

So how did you feel?

Oh, it was exciting. I initially wasn’t sure whether it was something that I wanted to do for the year. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was a good opportunity and something I actually feel I could make a difference with.

If you could pull a prank on your two friends in return, what would you do?

If there’s an opening on the GUSA Assembly at any point this year, I think they know what to expect.

Did you ever think about joining GUSA before?

I had always felt that while GUSA was important, it was something that other people were more interested in. I had never really considered running for a position with GUSA or being active in GUSA.

Now that you have found yourself on the assembly, what ideas do you have?

Now that I am involved with GUSA, the past week or two, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what things I do think are important. So I’ve started to develop a more set list of things. I look forward to working with people on off-campus housing issues and issues that are more relevant to the senior class.

With no one running for the senior seat, do you think disinterest is an endemic issue with GUSA?

Yes, I think it’s obviously a sign that by senior year students have come to the accurate or inaccurate assumption that GUSA is not important, that GUSA isn’t an organization that can affect change. So I think that it’s a terrible thing that only 200-some people voted and that there wasn’t an actual candidate who saw an actual vision for GUSA. I don’t know what we can do about it, but there has to be more of a way to make the student population know that GUSA can work for them.

After being elected, will a lack of other candidates for the position affect your attitude toward the role?

I realize that I have a responsibility now to show people that work is being done to improve conditions here at the school. I definitely have a responsibility to do something that makes visible what GUSA does.

Do you think that this is the start of an accidental political career?

I’m a government major, so I’ve always considered that sort of thing. But no, I’m not the kind of person I see going out and becoming anyone in politics.

– Interview by Michael Grendell

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