Street: What led you to get involved in the UA?
Jane Meyer: My freshman fall I ran for Class Board. I ran for VP Internal and I lost that election. So I got really involved in Penn Dems and the election and a little bit of Jewish life, but by the end of the year I realized I still had an interest in being in student government. And by that time I had a better understanding of what all six branches did, and I realized that my interests and my talents and my passions allied so much better with the UA.
Street: What is the difference between the UA and Class Board?
JM: The UA is in charge of funding, services and advocacy on behalf of the student body. Whereas Class Board is in charge of events and traditions and class bonding. The UA is 'not in the events business' they say a lot. So we are involved in more policy issues than Class Board or any other branch of student government except maybe SCUE (Student Committee on Undergraduate Education).
Street: What has been your biggest success during your time as President?
JM: This was something that actually started a little bit before I was elected, but it’s what I’m most proud of during my time on the UA. The PAVE program, Penn Anti–Violence Educators, I came up with that acronym, and so that was something that came out of collaboration between the UA, ASAP and MARS and Jess Mertz who is the Director of Sexual Assault Prevention Education. It’s something I’m so proud to have been a part of and I think it’s going to make a very positive impact going forward.
Street: What was the hardest part about being President of the UA?
JM: It's tough when a lot of people mock student government or say the UA doesn’t do anything, “Oh, you’re the airport shuttles club.” I kind of have reclaimed the title. I say I’m the president of the airport shuttles club. It’s always a fight to dispel some of that prevailing attitude because I think the UA would be so much more effective and the student body better served if more people saw us as more than just the airport shuttles club.
Street: What is the biggest misconception about the UA?
JM: One of them is that we’re all a bunch of Frank Underwoods. We’re all people who want to run for elected office later on down the line and we have this inherent interest in politicking and maybe our intentions aren’t in the right place. I think that’s an easy way that people kind of brush people in the UA aside. When the fact of the matter is, the way the UA is set up is you have representation from each school. How common is it that you’re going to find a someone who’s pursuing nursing as her career wanting to be the next President Obama? They want to improve Penn, that’s why they’re there.
Street: Tell me about your involvement with other groups.
JM: I would say the one issue or broad topic that I’m most passionate about is encouraging women to pursue leadership and to be more involved in the political realm. That’s why I got involved in the Women’s Political League. Even in Penn Dems, that’s something that I was really passionate about, getting involved and helping create the fem dems branch of Penn Dems. I think a lot of the time at Penn, and I’ve experienced this, politics can feel like a bit of an old boys club. I thought that was kind of a myth until I got here and was shut out of certain conversations and was underestimated because I was a woman. So when I was able to assume leadership roles in my different organizations I have tried my best to go above and beyond to make sure there are welcoming spaces for everyone.
Street: What’s an example of a time you were shut out for being a woman?
JM: It’s more of an ongoing saga. When I was in Penn Dems particularly, in my first year or so of involvement there were people who would make comments about my appearance. Or just talk about other women in front of me in a way that was kind of disrespectful and made the space seem unwelcome to my voice. People who would really only take the men in the room seriously and not include me in serious conversations. And so it was tough and there was a point where I didn’t want to continue on in the organization with these people who made it such a toxic environment.
Street: If you were going to be famous for something what would it be for?
JM: My kettle corn. I love making kettle corn on the stove. A lot of people don’t realize that kettle corn is not necessarily supposed to be made in the microwave. I have been known to make big batches of kettle corn and bring it to meetings or parties.
Street: If you were going to be infamous for something what would it be?
JM: I have a knack for turning any conversation into a political one. I was in Florida over spring break and I really just wanted to get what the word on the street is and what’s going on with the primary election. So I would get into a cab or I would be talking to anyone who’s a Miami native and I’d say “Oh did you send in your absentee ballot yet?”
Street: Has that ever gone awry?
JM: I sometimes will start talking about things and making assumptions about my audience which may not be true. Before I talked about being pro-choice and talking talking talking and 10 minutes later the person I was talking to was like “You’re aware I’m pro-life, right?”
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
JM: Those who read my emails and those who don’t.
Street: What are some of your favorite spots outside of Penn’s campus?
JM: I don't know about off-campus, on Penn’s campus I love Williams Café. I try and pretend that I’m cool enough to be a barista. And I’ve been going there since freshman year. They’ve seen me in all states. Post-all nighter, coming in basically crying and needing an Americano. Or when they endorsed me in the UA election. They’ve really seen me in all stages of Penn life and they’ve been supportive through it all. Their endorsement was clutch.
Street: What’s your spirit animal?
JM: A lioness. I’m very protective of my organizations or people I’m close to. Fierce when I need to be. Also Hillary Clinton. I’m obsessed with her.
Street: So are you ready for Hillary?
JM: I’m #readyforhillary.
Street: Who was your first celebrity crush?
JM: Nick Jonas. Because I have Type 1 diabetes and that’s how I got involved with politics to begin with. He has diabetes too, so if nothing else, even if his music wasn’t good, even if people thought he wasn’t cool enough for them, Nick Jonas had Type 1 Diabetes and was an advocate for it and so I always used that to defend him. ‘He has diabetes!’ like it’s a redeeming quality or something. I always admired that he was out there talking about it.
Street: How did having Type 1 diabetes influence your desire to go into politics?
JM: I was diagnosed when I was five. One way they could potentially find a cure for it is stem cell research. That’s a politicized issue because of embryonic stem cells. I knew that come 4th grade all I understood truly was that Democrats supported stem cell research and expanding funding for it, Republicans wanted to place restrictions on it. In my mind President Bush didn’t want to cure my disease, and Senator Kerry did. I was fired up. Since then I’ve continued to have an interest in politics and government.
Street: If you could have a drink with anyone in history who would it be?
JM: Gloria Steinem is a kick-ass woman.
Street: Kill, fuck, marry: Amy Gutmann, the Quaker mascot and Kweder.
JM: I’d have a really hard time killing the Quaker because fun fact I have a friend who is the Quaker. Wouldn’t want to kill Kweder because he makes my Tuesday nights so fun and he’s a Pennstitution. And obviously wouldn’t want to kill Amy Gutmann because she is someone who is a role model of mine and I think she is so incredible and has done such great things for the university. So maybe I’ll take a really political route and say I hope they all keep surviving at this place we all call home, the University of Pennsylvania.
Street: What’s one question we forgot to ask you?
JM: What group did I wish I was a part of. And I would say two of my roommates right now are on exec of Bloomers, the all-female comedy group. And one is the head writer. I'm always convinced I came up with the newest, funniest sketch idea and I always remind her and she always shoots me down. It hurts a little inside.