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The Daily Tar Heel

Houston Summers looks back on a year in office

UNC Student Body President Houston Summers' term ends April 5th.
UNC Student Body President Houston Summers' term ends April 5th.

Many of the issues on Summers’ list — which he wrote — had check marks beside them, showing that they had been accomplished.

Summers will officially leave office today and hand over his responsibilities to Student Body President-elect Bradley Opere.

Summers said he has learned a lot from his time as the student body president, but the three most important things have been learning patience, trusting the process and not jumping to conclusions too quickly.

Summers said he is thankful for the work put in by his administration and felt that they served the community in the best way possible.

“It’s been a remarkable experience and there have been so many people that have poured their heart and soul into this and have done the absolute best that they could do because they love serving the students here at this University and not for personal gain or any other reason,” he said.

“I can honestly say that darn near every member of our team did everything they could to support our students and they came in with a good attitude and were well intentioned throughout the whole process.”

As they left office, Summers and his team looked back at some of the issues they’ve tackled.

Bathrooms

Summers said they had been able to identify every possible bathroom that could become gender neutral and have gone as far as exploring signs for the bathrooms. He said House Bill 2 has put all of that on hold.

“We’ve had instances over weeks where it’s been awesome, a ton of progress and then absolutely no progress at all,” Summers said.

Opere, who is also a member of the Summers administration, worked on the gender nonspecific bathrooms initiative and said while they were not able to make it work, their most successful contribution was in the creation of Pride Place – a new Residential Learning Program specifically designed for LGBTQ students at UNC.

Free rides with Uber

Houston said the Uber initative — which would offer free rides to students — had a lot of progress but was shut down at the last minute because of issues with accessibility and liability.

“Basically we reached the point where those negotiations are going to have to be started over again if that is something that we believe should be started over again,” Summers said.

Plots on campus

Michael Morrison, 2014-15 president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, said everything is in place to have plots on campus soon. He said he appreciates that Summers kept his word to do everything he could to have plots placed on campus.

“Where we are right now, is finalizing the actual location. In terms of the actual initiative being approved, it has been through a good number of people,” Morrison said. “It’s no longer a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when.’”

Voter registration

Diana Dayal, director of state and external affairs, said the student government program Tar Heel Vote led voter registration, voter education and a get-out-the-vote initiative. She said they had over 1,000 registrations in the spring.

Pit Teacher lecture series

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The “Pit Teacher” lecture series is set to take place sometime before the end of the school year after it was rained out in the fall, said Sowmya Mangipudi, chairperson of student government’s academic affairs committee.

“The essence of the event itself was to invite professors from various departments to talk in the Pit about some of the research they were doing or stuff that they really wanted to talk about,” Mangipudi said.

The event, which is a play on the Pit Preacher, is supposed to be laid-back and attract organic audiences who want to hear what professors have to say, Mangipudi said.

Carolina Hall

Summers said he has had a lot of challenges during his time in office, but he believes the biggest issue he confronted was the renaming of Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall.

He said while he did not choose the name or the 16 year moratorium, he kept his word by making sure Saunders’ name was gone.

“Though there is controversy around that, and there still will be, I am excited about the work that has been done there and I think that we are on the right path even though we have a little ways to go,” he said.

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