Sophomore economics major Brannum Forsyth from Birmingham, Alabama recently began his work as member of the Board of Directors of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.
He sat down with staff writer Maggie Monsrud to discuss his responsibility of representing student interests to the Board and the importance of student involvement in off-campus activities.
THE DAILY TAR HEEL: Why did you want to get involved with the Downtown Partnership?
BRANNUM FORSYTH: This summer I worked in Birmingham City Hall, and I had a great time doing it; I really enjoyed it. And I kind of anticipated that, and I thought that I would like to get involved in town affairs here, especially on the behalf of students.
DTH: What experience do you have that qualifies you for the position?
BF: I worked in the Office of Economic Development in the City Hall in Birmingham, Alabama, and there I really kind of became accustomed to city politics, especially I guess economic development in a city. Birmingham isn’t an overly large city, but it is larger than Chapel Hill and Carrboro here. And right now, a lot of the emphasis is in town affairs and economic development — what are we looking to develop?
DTH: Why do you think students should get involved off campus?
BF: We here at Carolina ... always want to be progressing. We always want to be moving forward. And so I think students should get involved if they want to enact change and if they want to help their fellow students. And it’s not just about fellow students; it’s also about those in the town, and it’s about working as a community of students and residents.
DTH: What has it been like to be part of the Partnership?
BF: You’re exposed to a lot of different people. You’re exposed to a lot of different interests ... I guess the experience has been — I don’t really know how to describe it — but you encounter a lot of people who want a lot of different things, but the overarching theme is that everyone wants what’s best for Chapel Hill.
DTH: What activities are you involved in on campus and how do they relate to your role on the Board?
BF: On campus I work as the director of town affairs for the external affairs board. I also sit on the executive library board — again with a graduate representative and a couple professors ... This position (on the Board of Directors) works very well in tandem with my position as director of town affairs ... I get to bring all of that directly back to this Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.
DTH: Any last words or advice for UNC students hoping to get involved off campus?
BF: It’s a great thing to see what’s going on in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and our town. And it’s also very striking to see how many people there are who really care about this place — and it’s not just people who care about Chapel Hill or people who just care about the University; they’re people who care about both and who are very willing to work very hard to kind of see this community blossom.