CRDaily Interview Questions
Will Lindsey is majoring in History and Political Science with a minor in Entrepreneurship studies with a concentration in science. He’s also running for Student Body President. CRDaily sat down for an interview with Will last week, and asked him some questions about Student Body President, Carolina, and Hogwarts.
(This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity)
- Why you are running for Student Body President?
I think that my answer is grounded in where I’m from and who I am. UNC has been a huge part of my life, has been a huge part of my family’s life, and it’s something that I am very passionate about. The university, I consider it my home, I consider it a part of me, and a part of my culture. I started to get involved in student government at UNC, I really felt committed to public service, on the student congress level, on the Executive Branch level, on the Attorney General’s staff. I really felt like I was able to serve student in many capacities. And why I wanted to do that was partly because of my love of public service, but also because of my love for the university. I know this is where I want to be, not only now but also in the future. This is where my parents want to be in the future. I know that for my family, North Carolina has been very important to them. I think it is about a commitment to the university, a commitment to the state, and a commitment to public service. When I was able to find an intersection between all of those passions, which came in the form of Stud Gov., it was a very exciting time. And I just kept working, doing advocacy and lobbying, all things that I have become fond of as a student, and when the SBP position became available it seemed like something that I should go for and try. It really intersects all of my passions.
- What are the three things you want done while in office? We are looking for tangible items, rather than big ideas.
That lends itself well to my platform, because while I have three main principles, they all very tangible. The first things I want to do is extent agenda setting power to student organizations. I will invite every student leader on campus who wants to partner with student government, if they submit their platform, they will become a part of the cabinet. Not a separate entity where they have discussion, but with an actual vote in the cabinet. This is about putting student leaders in the best position to have their voices heard, and act as a true cross section of the University. Student government is homogenous and they’re all appointed. I can say this because I am in student government, and I can see the inefficiencies inside of it: it is not accountable.
My second big thing is that I want to establish a relationship with the legislature. Tangibly, that means I want students going to Raleigh, and legislators coming to campus. Right now, UNC grads at the state level are dwindling there haven’t been as many people who have been to Chapel Hill, especially in leadership. All they see is scandal, controversy, and bad press. They don’t see the good we do. They don’t have a context for their funding. So, in establishing that relationship, it is very much about context and contact. It means a lot more interactions with the chief policy makers.
The final principle is enhancing our academic foundation. This is most tangibly found in our academic advising reform plan that sets out a department based advising systems. My vision is that instead of going to Steele building, you go to the department where your question is based. So if you were a political science major, you would go to the political science department first. I think its student government’s job to create those networks. If that doesn’t help, then you go to the peer advising networks, which we would help set up, and then if that doesn’t help you would go to Steele building.
- What do you think are your strengths? Your weaknesses? (This can be personality or political.)
I think my strengths are grounded in institutional knowledge of student government, I’ve been very involved in student government, and I’ve been very involved in advocacy. I think my biggest strength is my experience with state level policy making. I’ve talked about that a lot. That’s what sets me apart from the other candidates. I’ve met with Jennifer Willis, the state relations director, on multiple occasions. I am forging those relationships with the people who are putting the University in the best position to receive adequate funding. So when it comes to student government, my experience is unparalleled, when it comes to state government, I’m the only one who’s ever engaged with state legislature on the highest level. I’m the only one who realizes that funding is not a Board of trustees issue, it’s not a Board of Governors issue, and it’s not an administrative issue. We are all on the same team. We have to work with the legislators.
Weaknesses, I definitively have been student government oriented. But I think the way that’s mitigated is in how I’ve set up student organizations on campus o t really succeed. I think and it’s hypocritical to say, that if you really want to get involved at UNC, you need to go to organizations first. Organizations have the resources, the specialized knowledge, and the passion about different areas of campus. So it’s always been confusing to me why they haven’t been driving policy on campus. Student Government doesn’t need its own big agenda, because it overlaps with half the things on campus, and after you come up with this line by line platform that covers everything on campus, it is already outdated, it’s not dynamic, and it’s not responsive to student needs.
- What do you bring to the office of Student Body President that the other candidates do not?
I have really been committed to public service in this state for almost my whole life. What’s that manifested itself in is not just voluntary public service. I have worked with Meals on Wheels in Durham; I’ve been to New Orleans to work on Katrina relief. So voluntary public service is very much what I’m about. It has driven my desire to be public service oriented. I have parlayed that into state and federal government service, making sure that we have set ourselves up with good policy. When I was thinking about trying to run for SBP, I didn’t want to run on the traditional formula. I didn’t want to do the line by line, what it means is that student government doesn’t become engaged it becomes passive. We have to have a system that engages with student organizations, and student government’s don’t do that if they have a checklist. There needs to be a constant flow of communication between student groups and student government.
When I approach it, I approach it from a very policy oriented standpoint. Tuition has gone up every year. We don’t know how the tuition debate is going to go, but I can tell you that if we do not engage with the people who set our funding then it will go the same way it has gone the last ten years. Worse? The long session of the general assembly ends in May. By the time the next SBP gets their feet on the ground, the debates are almost over, and the issue will be harder to influence. This is a time for swift advocacy. I run the Carolina Advocacy committee now, and I can draw experiences from that to the Student Body President’s office.
- What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents? You can consider your opponents as a whole, rather than discussing each individually.
I think our platforms, with regards to student organizations, are similar. We have collectively identified an issue with student government: that it is not engaging, it is not productive and it’s homogenous. I think my platform goes a little further, with allowing student organizations to be a part of the process. But this means that student government will go in a different direction, regardless of who’s elected.
This isn’t a weakness, but it speaks to how much more invested I am in state level policy. I am bringing an institutional knowledge that has never been brought to student government before.
- The new Chancellor search is getting underway, and as SBP, if elected, you would have a lot of influence over the criterion of selection. What do you want to see in a new Chancellor?
Let me first say that I am an Entrepreneurship minor, and I think that Chancellor Thorp was a very good chancellor. I think that innovation at Carolina would not have been possible with Chancellor Thorp. When we look for a new Chancellor, I think it is important to retain the values of innovation and entrepreneurship. We need someone who is academic and liberal arts based, but we also need someone who is going to be a good manager.
- Carolina has magically turned into Hogwarts. Which Hogwarts house would you be sorted into? Why?
I think everyone wants to be in Gryffindor, but I have to accept that I am probably more of a Ravenclaw type of person. I’m an academic; I enjoy school. I would love to be put in Gryffindor, but I know I’m probably a Ravenclaw.
- It’s the day after you lose the election, how do you plan on continuing to serve Carolina?
That’s an easy question because the week after the election ends, I have a legislative day planned. I am the Carolina Advocacy chair for the Leimentstoll administration. Regardless of the results of the election, I am still the go to guy for lobbying and advocacy. It’s not a question on whether I’ll continue serving the University, because it’s already planned.
- Carolina Review is a conservative publication, and we want to make sure our next SBP has a good understanding of conservatism. So, please rank in order of awesomeness: Reagan, Lincoln, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Coolidge.
We’ll have to put Nixon last, because he’s a dook grad and he had some issues in office. We’ll put Lincoln first, then Reagan, Eisenhower, Coolidge, and Nixon.
- What’s your favorite story about your time at UNC?
I think that my favorite story about Carolina is from my time in Professor Leloudis’ class: North Carolina History since 1865. I love that class, because being from NC, I knew a lot about NC history. But I got to see just how important our University has been to the social movements that have improved our state over the last 100 years. We are the flagship university that has pushed out state and progressed our state. I knew that, but I was able to see it materialize it in class. I liked Professor Leloudis as a lecturer, and I loved his message.
- What’s your favorite joke?
This is such a lame joke. Okay, say, “Knock knock”
It’s the corniest joke over, but you didn’t know what to say! Because I got the order wrong. I won’t be using that again any time soon.