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SBP candidates' ideas abound

Left to right, top to bottom: Monique Hardin, Nash Keune, Joe Levin-Manning, Hogan Medlin, Shruti Shah and Gregory Strompolos
Left to right, top to bottom: Monique Hardin, Nash Keune, Joe Levin-Manning, Hogan Medlin, Shruti Shah and Gregory Strompolos

Correction (Jan. 28 12:45 a.m.): Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly described the narwhal, an aquatic animal mentioned in candidate Nash Keune’s platform. The adult narwhal weighs 3,500 pounds on average. The story has been changed to reflect the correction. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

Bowling alleys. Tuition hikes. Narwhal tanks. Tailgate recycling. Grade inflation. Alpine Bagels. Free Wi-Fi Internet. Soundproof air ducts.

The diverse range of issues and topics on campus that student body presidents have attempted to address seem unlimited.

In the past few years, candidates have turned out more elaborate platforms, outlining their plans for improving diverse aspects of the University in increasingly lengthy documents.

But some of this year’s candidates have rejected this trend and designed more atypical plans in response, criticizing long platforms for taking on too many issues.

“If you look at a lot of student body president platforms in the past, they’re longer than the Nile River,” said candidate Greg Strompolos. “And it’s like, ‘You must be a superhero or something to get all that done.’”

Strompolos’ platform consists of only six points addressing a few issues such as the implementation of Google technology on campus, standing in stark comparison to candidate Hogan Medlin’s platform, which spans 67 pages and numerous sections.

“Platforms have really exploded,” said Thomas Edwards, the 2009 student body president candidate who turned heads with his 65-page plan. “They have hundreds of points now.”

Candidate Nash Keune has also criticized past candidate promises, writing a platform that suggests, among other ideas, turning the first floor of Davis Library into a narwhal tank. A narwhal is a type of 3,500-pound porpoise sometimes called the “unicorn of the sea” for its single tusk.

“We do not feel that our platform is any less attainable than many other platform points proposed by candidates over the years,” wrote Christopher Jones, Keune’s campaign manager, in an e-mail.

Candidate Shruti Shah, whose platform focuses on restructuring the executive branch of student government, said her more limited plans reflect her belief that a person can only do so much.

“Student body president platforms have gotten to be too long and too extensive,” she said. “One big problem is you have candidates who come in and have great ideas, but you are limited, and you need to acknowledge that on the front end.”

Several candidates said they kept brevity in mind when developing their goals.

“A long platform can be too ambitious, depending on how it’s structured,” said candidate Joe Levin-Manning. “I tried to be very straightforward.”

Candidate Monique Hardin said she also tried to keep her platform limited to ideas that could make a difference but could be expanded by future administrations.

“I don’t think that our platform is too long, but I feel like there are some issues on there that are going to take a lot of time,” she said.

But Edwards and Medlin both said there are benefits to having detailed, well-researched ideas.

“If someone tells you it can’t be accomplished, they’re already putting limitations on, and that’s not good for the job in general,” Medlin said. “When it comes to student government and its goals and targets, limiting the scope of what you want to do in your year limits the people who can be involved,” he said.

It is essential for candidates to come to the job with a vision in mind, said current Student Body President Jasmin Jones.

“It just provides direction for the year and outlines projects to pursue,” she said.

But Jones said she spends most of her time working on personal projects and crisis management, and most of her work lies outside the platform.

“It’s not everything.”

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