Imber becomes first openly gay student body president

Imber seeks to create stronger connection. between students... and administration

Imber+plans+for+an+upcoming+event+with+other+SA+members.+%7C+McCauley+
Imber plans for an upcoming event with other SA members. | McCauley

Imber plans for an upcoming event with other SA members. | McCauley

Imber plans for an upcoming event with other SA members. | McCauley

Rebecca Lee

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The 2017-18 school year has already made history with the election of New Trier’s first ever openly gay student body president, Jacob Imber.

In spring of the 2016-17 school year, 70 percent of last year’s sophomores and juniors turned out to vote for Student Alliance officers. In addition to Imber’s election, junior Bill Yen was elected vice president, senior Sofia Mena was elected secretary, and senior Elena Cata was elected treasurer.

The newly elected officers worked over the summer planning events and preparing for the school year. “We have created a strong, comfortable, cohesive group with an enthusiastic and packed agenda,” said David Noskin and Stacy Kolack, the faculty sponsors of Student Alliance.

Imber’s presidency is not only a personal victory, but also a milestone for New Trier.

“It makes me proud to know that New Trier is a place where being gay wouldn’t impede upon someone’s ability to serve in a leadership role. It also makes me hopeful for outside of New Trier, where people can see you for what you accomplish and what you do as a leader instead of for your sexuality or your religion or your gender,” said Imber.

Senior Ilana Nazari, who worked with Imber for three years and served as secretary of Student Alliance last year, agreed.

“We’re lucky to live somewhere and to go to school somewhere where Jacob can be openly gay and he can be the president and nobody is making a fuss about it. It’s a step in the right direction, and I think it shows that New Trier is even more progressive than some of us may realize.”

Although this is a notable moment for New Trier, many of Imber’s peers point out that he has distinguished himself based on his merit above all else.

“I don’t think that being openly gay defines Jacob’s personality or his role in our student government. I see Jacob for all of his other amazing qualities first and then I acknowledge and respect the bravery he exhibits by being openly gay and representing our high school of 4,000 kids,” said senior Elena Cata, who is this year’s treasurer of Student Alliance.

Stephen Hajjar, a senior who is not a part of Student Alliance, agreed.

“I don’t think much about him being the first openly gay student to become president. I respect him the same way I would respect any student body president, and it is a good thing that he can just be a student body president.”

When he was campaigning, Imber avoided using his sexuality as a platform. “I am careful to not create a student government that revolves around the fact that the president is gay. I think that’s counter-productive to what Student Alliance does. I only give it so much thought before moving on to the logistical parts of my job, like what I want to do, how I’ll make that happen, and how I can make Student Alliance productive,” explained Imber.

Nazari attested to Imber’s ability as president. “I couldn’t think of anybody better suited for this job, especially because of how well he connects with people. He talks to the staff, and he’s well-connected within the student body. He’s very well-rounded,” said Nazari.

In addition to his roles in Student Alliance, Imber has continually participated in school theater productions. He co-directed this year’s Lagniappe-Potpourri alongside seniors Elena Cata and Teddy Fischer.

As a freshman, Imber served as president of Student Senate, the student government at the Northfield campus. As a sophomore and junior, he was the chair of the PR committee of Student Alliance.

“Students need a say in their own education, and student government is the most efficient way to do that. You can’t just hope for change. You have to get involved in an administrative way that makes that change possible,” said Imber.

Beyond the specific tasks that Student Alliance will take on this year, Imber and other members have expressed their commitment to advocating for students.

“I remind myself that not everyone at New Trier who is gay has the same positive experience that I did. So even though I have this position and I am gay, that doesn’t mean that gay rights is a non-issue at New Trier,” said Imber.

“As president, I want to make New Trier an accepting and open environment for everyone.”

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