He owns a local petting zoo and a successful haunted farm. Now, he wants to be Auburn University’s next SGA president.
Patrick Starr, junior in poultry science, is seeking the SGA presidency this year, and he said his business acumen — from managing more than a hundred employees and handling budgets — will be an asset if he’s elected to student government’s top job Feb. 6.
“If I walk through a building, I always look up to the ceiling to see how something is made, and then I look at how the business is operated,” Starr said. “I’m always trying to figure it out and how they do it.”
Starr started his Sleepy Hollow Haunted Farm with little success his senior year in high school, losing almost $2,000 in its first year. But he quickly bounced back, creating a profitable local attraction that has become somewhat of a creepy Halloween staple for Auburn students.
“A lot of people say, if you lose, drop it and go do something else,” Starr said. “But I really saw the problems that I had. I knew I could make those changes and that I could make it successful.”
Starr plans to bring those critical-thinking and managerial skills to student government if he’s elected.
He said his experience as a statewide high school student body president and two years in Auburn’s SGA cabinet makes him a qualified candidate, but his business skills, from staff placement to budgeting, make him stand out among the five candidates seeking the office.
“It’s the same as any other operation, where you try to figure out where someone would fit best,” Starr said. “Figuring out team leaders and putting together a staff relates straight to SGA.”
With his platform, Go Far with Patrick Starr, he hopes to bring more transparency, efficiency and creativity to Auburn’s SGA.
“I’ll be able to see where SGA is spending too much money and where it isn’t spending enough money,” Starr said.
GO FAR outlines five points Starr feels are integral to SGA: the game-day experience, an open-door policy, Family Fridays, Auburn City Relations and Research and Development.
On the game-day experience, Starr says he hopes to revisit the new guest-pass policy, which requires students trying to bring a non-student into the student section to enter into a lottery for a guest pass.
“A lot of this is not exactly what SGA wants,” Starr said. “It’s a trading game between SGA and athletics. Everything that is in that ticketing policy is not what SGA wanted. We’re just advocating for what students want.”
He said he will also advocate for a less stringent penalty system so students can return their tickets later if they think they won’t be able to use them. Current policy requires students to return their tickets to the ticket pool by Sunday in order to avoid any penalty points.
When it comes down to it, Starr said he’ll have an open-door policy and hold monthly forums so students can voice their opinions. With Family Fridays, a weekly SGA unity event started last year, Starr hopes to expand the event by involving other organizations and widening its scope.
“I want to bring that family atmosphere to campus like I know it,” he said. “People want to feel like they’re part of something.”
SGA representatives regularly attend Auburn City Council meetings and interact with city leaders, but Starr believes SGA should be more active by lobbying on behalf of students and presenting more student voices in city relations.
“We’re not doing as much as we can to have the best city relations,” Starr said.
Auburn is well known as a prominent research institution that’s constantly growing and progressing, and students should be a part of that process, Starr said, from policy development to campus construction and planning.
“One way Auburn could capitalize on that is by involving students in every area, from design to the thought process and whatever might go into building those buildings,” Starr said. “We need ideas that are student-voiced, in a meeting with administrators where they have a personal connection.”
Starr proposes student advisory boards that could be involved in the development process along the way.
As he heads into next week’s election, Starr said he will keep the Auburn Creed in mind.
“It really embodies what I feel a good person is, what a person who is conscientious about other people acts like, what they focus on in their life,” Starr said.