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The Daily Tar Heel

Cooper gets an early start

SBP-elect prepares for next year


Junior Mary Cooper is moving forward with the four main planks of her platform in her first week as UNC’s student body president-elect.

Eight voicemails.

Eighty-four text messages.

More than 300 e-mails, including one from Chancellor Holden Thorp.

The congratulations have flowed in to Mary Cooper. But after the initial shock of winning the student body presidency over Ian Lee with a sweeping 62 percent of the vote, Cooper said she isn’t waiting until her April 5 inauguration to get started.

As her first week as student body president-elect, Cooper said she has shadowed Student Body President Hogan Medlin at some of his smaller committee meetings. Meanwhile, she is moving forward with the four main planks of her platform: safety, arts and environment, tuition and an outreach program called “Triage” to help students converse with student government.

In meetings with Cooper, Medlin has given her many pieces of advice, including taking time to thank her team, choosing an effective executive board rich with members who challenge her thoughts and represent the student body — and to just be herself.

“Mary’s main strategy to leading effectively will be in placing emphasis on relationships with everyone,” Medlin said. “Her main power will lie in her ability to influence, to speak, and to persuade others to see things from her point of view.”

“We wrote Mary’s platform to have measurable change,” said Walt Peters, Cooper’s task master and logistical coordinator.

Specifics of the platform include projects such as a flat-rate taxi service, incorporating first-aid modules into Lifetime Fitness classes, expanding CCI printing to northern locations on campus and developing a Student Enrichment Fund.

“The issue that is on the forefront of my mind is the expanding of CCI printing to Greek housing and other off-campus locations,” Cooper said.

The program, which she said would be fairly feasible to instate, would expand printing options to north campus, allowing students in Greek housing and off-campus apartments to opt to pay a certain amount for CCI printing.

But Cooper said she is most passionate about the creation of a Student Enrichment Fund. The fund would give grants to students to attend conferences, lectures or seminars to gain exposure outside of the University.

“The idea of students investing in students is something that is very powerful for me,” Cooper said.

Cooper said she has begun creating an application for the program.

“I’m excited for all of it, moving past this campaign to create a positive and effective administration that works day in and day out for students,” Cooper said. “I also want to engage as many students as possible because a lot of voices aren’t represented right now.”

Cooper said tuition issues will also be a major issue she will tackle. The Board of Trustees passed a measure to increase tuition by 6.5 percent earlier this year. She said she has already sat in on two meetings on the issue, but she has yet to speak to members of the board.

“At the end of the day, the control is in Raleigh,” she said. “But that does not give me any reason to give up on it. I’m learning what we can do on campus.”

Cooper’s primary method to tackle tuition issues lies in her “Tuition Dream Team,” a group of between eight and 10 members who would aim to increase transparency of student fees and tuition matters.

Cooper will also be supported by her executive board, whose members she has yet to select. Lee, the current student body secretary, said he intends to apply for a position. Former candidate Rick Ingram said he is still weighing his options, and Brooklyn Stephens said she doesn’t plan on applying.

Cooper said she plans on pursuing some of Lee and Ingram’s platform points regardless, including Lee’s medical amnesty program and Ingram’s plan to involve other organizations in student government.

She also hopes to advance Medlin’s arts innovation platform, a program Medlin said will require Cooper’s support.

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