A farewell to Leto: The mark of a legacy

As pictured in a file photo from the 2017 “Division of Student Affairs Convocation,” Student Government Association President Seth Leto is sworn in by Chief Justice Ali LeBlanc. As he prepares to exit, Leto has prided himself on fighting to make changes for all students. File Photo/The Lion’s Roar

Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Eric Summers witnessed the abilities of Student Government Association President Seth Leto firsthand. 

“The day the results were released, I said, ‘Congratulations, Mr. President. I look forward to working with you,’” said Summers. “Right after he was elected, he was setting up at a campus life event, and I said, ‘Mr. President, you have people to do that for you.’ He responded, ‘I lead by example.’ He’s a go-getter. He’s not sitting back waiting on people to tell him what to do. He just gets up and does what he needs to.” 

When speaking to those that work alongside Leto, it is clear that his work ethic is contagious. 

 

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University President Dr. John L. Crain has been pleased with Leto’s performance and diligence for presenting the interests of all students.

“He routinely exhibits wisdom and professionalism beyond his years,” said Crain. “His calm and thoughtful demeanor instills confidence in those who work with him, whether among his SGA colleagues, other students or members of the university administration.”

SGA Chief Justice Ali LeBlanc and Leto met through the SGA Senate and through Greek life. As a friend and colleague, she respects Leto’s transformation of SGA. 

“Seth has completely transformed the face of SGA for the better,” said LeBlanc. “I look up to Seth as a role model and as someone I would want to model the presidency after. He did a phenomenal job and exceeded every expectation.”

Leto was named SGA President on April 5, 2017 and was officially sworn in at the Division for Student Affairs Convocation on April 25, 2017.

In SGA,  Leto has served as president and was a senator for five semesters, where he was the appropriations chairman in fall of 2016 and internal affairs chairman in spring of 2017. 

Although Leto has completed many projects during his position, he recalls some of the highlights of his tenure. One of his first incentives was changing SGA’s logo as an attempt to re brand the office. The decision was highly received by his cabinet members and advisors.

Gallagher met Leto during fraternity recruitment for Delta Tau Delta and through SGA. He is proud of Leto’s growth as a student leader and initiative in brining the Lion statue to campus. 

“It really shows how much he loves SLU and cares about the school and students,” said Gallagher. “Despite him having a lot on his plate, he’s very energetic and takes it all with grace and ease. He gives 110 percent with whatever he put his mind to.” 

Another major project was the building of National Pan-Hellenic plots, which cost a total of about $40,000 and were recently approved. The campus can soon look forward to lion statues as well, which will cost about $50,000. 

Leto explained that he noticed the need for both physical monuments after visiting other college campuses. NPHC plots are used to give organizations a sense of belonging on campus with the brick pillars. 

Now that the political science major approaches graduation in Fall 2018, he prepares to leave behind the responsibility that he’s had for a year. 

“It has been extremely fulfilling personally to have grown, and to have seen the work that I’ve done with the administration is rewarding,” said Leto. 

During the upcoming summer, Leto, along with LeBlanc, plans to complete an internship in Washington, D.C. with United States Representative Steve Scalise. He also plans to work alongside his family at the Inner Parish Security Company. 

The advisers for SGA, Interim Director of Student Engagement Angela James, Assistant Director of Student Engagement Kyle Gallagher and Coordinator of Multicultural and International Student Affairs Marjorie Parker, were all instrumental in helping Leto, LeBlanc and Vice President of SGA Richard Davis Jr. make decisions while in office. Leto is also thankful for the support of Crain, Summers, Executive Director of Public and Governmental Affairs Erin Cowser, Vice President for Administration and Finance Sam Domiano and University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Tena Golding. He feels that the administrators were supportive of their efforts. 

“We couldn’t have gotten large and small projects done without their support,” said Leto. 

With campaigning for the election underway, changes in bylaws for campaign expenditures were passed. This year’s candidates for positions in SGA had access to use more funds to promote themselves. They were also given a month instead of a year to promote themselves. 

“We are capitalizing our efforts to increase the visibility of the election,” said Leto. “Hopefully we will see a higher voter turnout and an overall excitement about the election process. We are trying to promote the election and candidates more.”

Davis has remained in awe of Leto’s ability to develop bonds with the student body. His observations have inspired him to run for SGA president alongside LeBlanc. He won the election on Thursday, April 12. 

“Seth’s leadership as SGA president has been truly remarkable,” said Davis. “Coming into this term, Seth and I had a lot of the same goals. For one, we both wanted to be as transparent and open as possible when it came to SGA’s relationship with the student body.” 

Summers feels the president of SGA is “the voice of the student body,” and offers this advice to the upcoming president: “You should work alongside the administration to do what’s best for students,” and “Be a great student ambassador.” He feels that Leto’s successor will have big shoes to fill and should focus on gaining perspectives of all types of students and administrators. 

“I’m going to miss Seth because he seemed more like an administrator than a student,” said Summers. “He was always present. You can only hope to have someone as mature as Seth to take on that position. He did an excellent job.”

Despite Leto’s success as a game changer for SGA, his reflection in office comes with some cons. He believes that he works alongside great leaders in SGA, but he has hopes for the next president to improve programming and engagement with news leaders and alumni.

“Looking back you wish you had more time to get more done,” said Leto. “There’s still some things that we wish we could have implemented and changed. I wished we could have spent more time focusing on the leadership aspects of SGA. That was a struggle.”

Davis will officially be sworn in on April 24 at this year’s Division of Student Affairs Convocation. Leto encourages his successor to hit the ground running while being confident, diligent and hard working. 

“Start early and don’t stop until you leave office,” said Leto. “The year is going to fly by, and you’re going to look back wishing you had more time. You are elected by the student body and trusted. The capacity to make change is there. They just have to be able to work at it. Remember that you have a strong voice and more authority than they sometimes realize. Use your voice to be diligent in order to enact the change that is possible.”

 

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