The Case For Andrew Powell

Campus Life, Elections, Politics, Student Government

Hello Tar Heels,

As most are probably aware, Emilio Vicente’s platform writer recently came out against his former candidate in what many Emilio supporters see as a stab in the back.  Fortunately, that whole incident is really irrelevant as to why Emilio is not the ideal candidate for SBP and why Andrew Powell is the candidate we should all support.

What we have garnered so far in this SBP election is that we have two very nice guys, who we would all want to sit down and have a beer with, running to be the head of our Executive Branch of Student Government.  Both Andrew and Emilio have some noble goals that they wholeheartedly want to see implemented at this University, but so far, only Andrew has shown the experience and concrete plans necessary to turn those goals into policies and actions.  Emilio has got some things that Andrew has not.  He got an endorsement from Eva Longoria and two articles, one in the New York Times and one in the Huffington Post about his identity and experiences as an immigration advocate.  Unfortunately for Emilio, being a really nice guy and standing for an ideal are not qualifications to run our University’s Student Government.  In addition, national media and celebrities plugging a candidate for who he is, not what his platform is, do not belong in our Student Body President election. Yet, even after all this, the biggest indicator as to why Andrew Powell simply out qualifies Emilio came during last night’s SBP Run Off Debate.

The differences between Emilio and Andrew came to a sharp contrast throughout the evening.  To every question, both candidates provided some excellent ideas ranging from listening sessions to flipped classrooms, but only Andrew provided hard facts to back up why his ideas are not only feasible, but also effective at tackling some of the biggest issues affecting our University.  However, the most pressing issue of the night was clearly tuition.  Emilio believed that in order to address this, Student Government must listen to students, because as it is currently, they do not.  Andrew stated that this wasn’t the case because Student Government is made up of hundreds of students who clearly understood the issues affecting their friends and themselves.  He countered that the real changes that must be made are streamlining the bureaucracy in Student Government, so that it is manageable, and cutting costs and inefficiency in the classroom.  He has proposed the models of flipped classrooms and a smaller Executive Cabinet to effectively address his goals of cost cutting, efficiency, and a manageable Student Government. Emilio took issue with a flipped classroom format, citing a friend he knew who said she disliked it, but Andrew was able to back up his plans with facts that showed flipped classrooms to be astounding successes when implemented, improving grades by upwards of 11 points and cutting costs by nearly 37%.  In this format the entire debate ensued.

Making sense of this, we find that Andrew simply was able to prove more effectively that his goals will work, whereas Emilio has simply been able to show his good intentions.  In a race as important as this one, we must let our emotions subside and choose the candidate who has laid concrete plans backed with hard facts of their success.  We must choose a candidate who has both the good intentions and the experience necessary to translate those intentions into good results.  We must choose Andrew Powell.

Interview with SBP Candidate Emilio Vicente

Campus Life, CRDaily, Elections, Student Government

Last week, the Carolina Review had the privilege to sit down with Emilio Vicente, a candidate for Student Body President.  During the interview, we had the chance to hear from him about his campaign, his goals, and why he loves Carolina.

(Disclaimer: This interview has been lightly edited for brevity.)

1. Why are you running for Student Body President?

That’s a good question.  I’m running for SBP because of my amazing experiences here.  Also, I think that we really need more student involvement.  Since I’ve been here, I haven’t seen that much of that, especially in respect to student’s being part of the conversations about issues that affect our school.  To remedy that, I have national, state, and local experience in how to be an effective advocate and how to bring people together by talking to them.  That really is the essence of my platform; that we should hear from students, not about them.

2. What will be some of your main goals while in office?

One of my main goals is listening to students. Unfortunately, the way the position of SBP has often worked is that someone writes a platform and executes that platform without actively engaging students in the conversation.  One of my main ideas is instituting listening sessions throughout campus.  I got this idea from the Chancellor who has already instituted these. This is piggybacking off of her innovation and I really want to use it to have all the amazing organizations on campus in one room.  They are going to be formatted two different ways, one, the town hall format, will address broad issues and one will be with specific issues out in the community.  Apart from that, we will work with students to address the sexual assault, tuition, and immigration issues.  An example of this is the 12.3% increase that out of state students face next year.  On the surface it doesn’t seem that bad, but when we look at it closely and hear from those affected, we see that it really does negatively affect lives.  So we will hear student voices for that which is really in line with my campaign slogan of Carolina for All.   If you go to UNC, you should have the same opportunities that anyone else on this campus has.

3. What distinguishes you from the other SBP candidates?

I have national, state, and local experience.  Before attending UNC, I took a year off and worked on immigration advocacy.  I worked in DC for four months advocating for passage of the DREAM Act, a bill that would give undocumented students, like myself, a pathway to citizenship.  During that time, I lobbied Senators and Representatives on a personal basis and I built relationships with them.  As far as I’m aware, the other candidates don’t have that experience.  In order to engage someone, you need to build relationships and get support behind you and my organizing skills allow me to effectively do this, facilitating a discussion and representing students to the best of my ability.  Therefore, I have the ability to engage the Board of Trustees, Board of Governors, and the General Assembly.   Apart from that, I know that others say they have Student Government experience, where as I do not, but I believe that even for them there would still be a learning curve.  I already have been reaching out and getting to know people, giving me an advantage.

4. What will be your biggest weakness should you be elected Student Body President?

I’m very optimistic.  There are things that I want to see enacted while SBP that, realistically, may not get done.  Some people say that some things in my platform are unfeasible, but I like challenges.  Some said I wouldn’t go to college because I was an illegal immigrant, but here I am.  So, I think that when I really put my mind to something, I can get it done and give it my best.

5. What will be your biggest strength?

I think I just basically touched on that.

6. What are your impressions of our new Chancellor Carol Folt, and how are you planning on working with her administration to accomplish your goals as SBP?

I’m fortunate enough to have been able to know her for the past five months.  I am on the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor, which is a group of thirteen students across campus that helps her hear the students’ voices.  Through this I really have been able to build a relationship with her.  So far, I have been impressed by her dedication to students.  She has done a great job in standing up against the 12.3% potential tuition increase and I think that it is great that she vocally uses her influence as Chancellor to let the members of the General Assembly know that she does not support that.  Moving forward, I look forward to getting to know her better and I want to continue to work with her whether I get this position or not.  One of the things that I would like to see done is similar to the way she has been having students come present at the Board of Trustees, but change it so that the student body president can independently choose students to present to the board of trustees.

7. What is the one thing about Carolina that you love most?

I would have to say the students.  I’ll tell you a story.  So my first few days on campus, (I come from a very small town) I was overwhelmed the first few days and I didn’t know that many people.  So I ate alone a lot during the first few weeks.  One day I was sitting down for lunch at Rams and across from me there is another student.  As I sat down, the person across from me asked if I wanted to sit with him.  I said ok (after being apprehensive), but at the time, I didn’t think much of it, kind of like I would never see him again.  A few weeks later, I saw him again and we just sat together.  Three years later, he is one of my best friends and he is my campaign manager.   That is what I love about UNC, you can literally meet someone one day and a year or a week later they can be your best friends.  We have a real diversity here in the spectrum of ideologies and even those who disagree are willing to listen and be friendly.  So, the students on this campus are the greatest part of the University.

8. Out of all the great people who have contributed to the University over the years, who is your favorite and why?

I would have to say Chancellor Moeser.  I’ve known him since High School and I do have to say that he has done amazing work in ensuring that students who qualify to come to UNC can come her without falling into huge amounts of debt.  It speaks to his commitment that he was willing to work so hard for this cause.  I was lucky because in my first year here, I was in his first year seminar, Music 89, where I was able to really deepen my relationship with him.  I count him as a mentor and a friend and overall he has been good at advocating for students.

9. Who is your favorite President and why?

It is kind of hard, but if I have to answer, I would say Abraham Lincoln. I don’t compare myself to him because I don’t come near his level of skills.  However, he was really able to work with people of different ideologies, bringing them together and uniting them, which is probably why we are still a Union.  So really, I want my administration to be like his in the sense that it really brings people together.

10. UNC has abruptly transformed into Hogwarts.  What House are you and why?

I would probably be a Hufflepuff.  I love Harry Potter and give credit to those books for implanting in me a love of reading.  Going back to the question, I definitely wouldn’t be in Ravenclaw.  I think that everyone always wants to be a Gryffindor and I admire Slitheryn, but I think that I would be a Hufflepuff.  I like being like any other student, with a normal life, who works hard and does things right.  So Hufflepuff it is.

 

Interview with SBP Candidate Nikita Shamdasani

Campus Life, CRDaily, Elections, Student Government

Nikita Shamdasani is a Political Science Major and Business Minor running for Student Body President.  CRDaily got the chance to sit down with her this week to speak about her campaign, her goals, and why she loves this University.

(This Interview has been lightly edited).

1. Why are you running for Student Body President?

“So, for the past two years, I have been involved in Student Government, first as Mary Cooper’s Executive Assistant and then as Student Body Secretary for Will Linenstall. I loved learning the ins and outs of the jobs and thought that there were great things that could be done with it, but that we weren’t doing a good job of actually harnessing student input, which is fundamentally what student government should be good at.  Obviously, the biggest job of the Student Body President is advocating for students, and when I realized that I could do that better, I knew I wanted to run for Student Body President.  In addition, when I knew my little sister would be attending UNC next year, my intention to run was further cemented, as I want to keep this University great not just for the time I’m here, but for the future as well.”

2. What will be some of your main goals while in office?

“I think we need to do a much better job about being proactive at getting student feedback and being transparent about what we do with that feedback.  We have introduced an online idea generator called Neighborland, which students are already using.  This generator allows students, faculty, administrators, and townspeople (the mayor is already on it) to submit ideas and it allows Student Government to turn those ideas into actions.  In addition, it creates a conversation between students and Student Government where updates can be provided about what is going on within Student Government and where students can engage in the process.  I think that would be a fundamental shift in the role of Student Government, so that information can be more available to all students.  This can play a role in helping big issues (like tuition and sexual assault) which need more student input get that feedback from students to give them a proactive voice.”

3. What distinguishes you from the other SBP candidates?

“No other Student Body President candidate has had the years of experience that I have in student Government.  It’s one thing to be able to identify problems from the outside, but it’s another to have been able to look at it objectively and fix it from the inside.  I have worked with the Student Body President and Vice President literally every day for the last year and I got a behind the scenes look at every issue that has come up in the past two years.  I think with other candidates there would be more of a learning curve, but for me I would be ready to work from day one.”

4. What will be your biggest weakness should you be elected Student Body President?

“I think that sometimes people in Student Government expect others to know how Student Government works.  I have occasionally caught myself using an acronym for a committee and just assuming that others know what it stands for.  Throughout this campaign, I have tried to have others tell me if I am assuming what others know too often and to run my campaign in a manner that explains Student Government to students.  I would definitely be very deliberate in approaching issues from the lens of someone who hasn’t had two years of experience when I try to get information out to students.”

5. What will be your biggest strength?

“I think that a huge thing that helps people in this job is having previous relationships with members of Student Government and knowledge about how it works.  A lot of people that become SBP’s have to learn that over the period of a few months.  At a time when our University is going through so much change, we need a smooth transition and someone who knows the job and how to make adjustments to team structure and leadership style.  From my two years in Student Government, I know how to do these things.”

6. What are your impressions of our new Chancellor Carol Folt, and how are you planning on working with her administration to accomplish your goals as SBP?

“I have been a big fan of Chancellor Folt and I think that, with the way she has allowed student organizations to present to the Board of Trustees, she has done a great job at meeting people and hearing as many opinions as possible.  As to working with her moving forward, I think that administrators like the Chancellor need to be on Neighborland, too.  By engaging with students through that medium, she can keep student voices heard without having to take up too much time and without having to only hear it from me.  I still would want to meet with her often, but I think that having that open channel of communication would allow her to hear student voices at all times, and not just when big issues pop up.”

7. What is the one thing about Carolina that you love most?

“Cliché answer, but I think it is the people.  The reason I got involved with Student Government is because of a Junior I met while I was a First Year.  I told him I had no idea what to do here and he helped me.  He was working for Mary Cooper, the Student Body President at the time, and got me an interview with her to be her Executive Assistant.  I think that in other places, there can be a very competitive environment among classmates, but at Carolina, there is a very collaborative and warm environment that really defines the Carolina Way.”

8. Out of all the great people who have contributed to the University over the years, who is your favorite and why?

“I’m not saying this person has made the greatest contributions, but I would say that Michael Jordan is my favorite.  When I was abroad in Australia, I was frequently asked what school I go to and my reply would always be that I go to Michael Jordan’s school.  Everyone knew what that was and they all thought it was really cool.  I think that he is a big part of people from far away places impressions of Carolina and a reason for us to be proud.  As an example, he is also admirable as he came back to finish his Bachelor’s degree even after making it into the NBA, prioritizing the intersection of athletics and academics.”

9. Who is your favorite President and why?

“I’m going to say James K. Polk, not simply because he was a Tarheel, which is important, but also because he was one of the few Presidents who went in with a set agenda, finished it, and then decided not to run for reelection.  So, I admire he because he went to a pretty good school and knew how to get things done, even when those necessary things were unpopular.”

10. UNC has abruptly transformed into Hogwarts.  What House are you and why?

“I’m going to have to say Gryffindor.  It’s something that I’ve really thought a lot about since the Harry Potter books were such an integral part of my childhood.   Gryffindor’s have the courage to know when things aren’t going right and to change them, even when unpopular.  Proposing an untraditional platform this year was something that we knew would get a lot of pushback.  What we are trying to do is more difficult, but we think it needs to get done, so we are going to do it no matter what.  We are like Gryffindor, but don’t worry, we will be accepting of all Houses.”