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The Daily Tar Heel

Student body president Andrew Powell moves on from challenging year

Andrew, Emilio, Winston, Nikita
Andrew, Emilio, Winston, Nikita

“It’s been a long year — a good one overall. It was a tumultuous time for UNC in a lot of ways, but looking back on what the student body has done, I’m proud of how student government has helped support and move things forward,” said Student Body Vice President Kyle Villemain, who worked closely with Powell on his initiatives throughout the year.

Powell said the most difficult aspect of his job was prioritizing.

“I think the biggest limitation we faced was that as soon as the school year started, I felt like we were going from one emergency to the next, and there are so many different things, from the Wainstein report to the review of centers and institutes to just, you know, we’re getting sued by a million different people all at once,” Powell said.

But he and Villemain both agreed the killing of UNC student Deah Barakat; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha; and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha was the hardest thing they dealt with all year.

“It was simply heartbreaking, inexplicable — but while that was the toughest time, I think it also made me the most proud to be at Carolina and to be a part of the student body and this community that cares so much,” Powell said.

He said his administration made significant progress on his platform of education innovation and classroom environment.

“We have worked to make sure that active learning is on top of Carolina’s agenda, and I think that will manifest itself largely in this Quality Enhancement Plan we’re working on,” he said.

Winston Howes, one of Powell’s opponents in the 2014 race, said he thinks the Powell administration was able to begin making progress on Powell’s platform despite all the year’s crises.

“I think they came in at a tough spot — you have the athletic-academic scandal unfolding coming in, and they started out strong in terms of reorganizing student government and laying the groundwork for what they were trying to do,” he said.

Howes said the restructuring of student government at the beginning of Powell’s administration was not as successful as many thought.

“I think one of the hopes was that by restructuring student government — which they did — they would be able to cut out a lot of the bureaucracy and just move more efficiently,” Howes said. “But I haven’t gotten the sense of that being the case.”

As Summers prepares to take his position, Powell said he has warned him about the personal toll the job can take.

“But through it all, remember who you are and where you came from and the values you have, and try to serve the best that you can regardless of whether you feel that people are unfairly criticizing or unfairly complimenting you — just don’t let it get to your head, and keep doing what you think is right,” he said.

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