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John Taylor dreams of uniting UNC

John Taylor sits on the steps of Wilson Library, one of his favorite places on campus. Taylor is currently running for student body president.
John Taylor sits on the steps of Wilson Library, one of his favorite places on campus. Taylor is currently running for student body president.

Taylor grew up in Albemarle before his family moved to Chapel Hill when he was in middle school, and he and his family went back and forth between both places.

“It’s interesting coming from a very conservative environment to a much more liberal environment, but it really helped me to learn a lot more about my state,” Taylor said. “It’s the greatest state in the Union, in my opinion.”

Taylor attended Woodberry Forest School in Virginia and spent a summer in China before enrolling at UNC in the fall.

During his time in China, Taylor learned his father had been diagnosed with melanoma. The cancer eventually spread to his brain.

“I had to go home early,” Taylor said.

“That was a really tough thing to have happening, so I got home in time to see him. It was very difficult to deal with as a freshman in college.”

Taylor’s father passed away in late September that year.

“That’s been a defining experience in my life, but it’s really helped me to grow a lot in my faith,” Taylor said.

Taylor is involved in several Christian groups on campus. He’s a student resident for the Chapel of the Cross and a member of Cru at UNC. He was previously involved in Carolina Against Slavery and Trafficking through the Campus Y and worked for the Orange County district attorney’s office.

“I’m kind of a dark horse in this election,” Taylor said.

“I think one thing that sets me apart is being very involved in the Christian community here at Carolina. People may look at me and say I’m more conservative, but I’m a registered Democrat — I’m moderate.”

Miles O’Neill, campus director of Cru at UNC, said Taylor has been an asset to Cru because of how many people he has brought into the organization during his time there.

“There are people around our organization, really, I think, because John has reached out to them, cared for them and invited them to things,” O’Neill said.

Taylor said he is passionate about bringing people together and hearing ideas from all sides.

“I know that I’m only one person. I’m just a white guy from a small town in North Carolina, and I haven’t had every experience in the world,” Taylor said.

“I think one strength I have is being able to recognize that and to be able to recognize the need to really listen to people and take into account their experiences.”

Taylor said because of this, the issues of racial reconciliation and sexual assault reform are the most important issues to him in his platform.

He wants required English courses to discuss the history of racism at UNC and for One Act training to be incorporated into LFIT courses.

Junior Cole McCauley, a member of Taylor’s campaign team, became close to Taylor on a Cru summer trip to East Asia.

“There was this group of bikers being really loud at 2 a.m., and we were all really tired,” McCauley said. “(Taylor) befriended them, and the next thing I know, John’s on one of these bikes with these people from East Asia.”

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Senior Eva Zarzar, another friend of Taylor’s, said Taylor is fearless.

“He’s not really afraid of what people think, which is admirable and not typical on a college campus,” Zarzar said.