Student Body President Elizabeth Adkins said student government is prioritizing its outreach efforts at the beginning of the semester. FallFest will be the main focus of these efforts in helping first-years and transfers, as well as current students, get involved in student government.
“Something that’s very important to us is changing the culture of the organization and making sure we’re getting a lot of fresh new faces in the organization,” Adkins said.
Adkins is also working on raising awareness about the Red Zone, a term for the first two weeks of classes when sexual assault is most likely to happen. The second week of school will focus on this issue with programming, speakers and activities in the Pit.
“I believe it’s important to make sure incoming first-years and all Carolina students are aware that the Red Zone is a thing,” Adkins said. “It is happening.”
Other aspects of her platform includes improving lighting around campus, especially on the trails around Ehringhaus Residence Hall, installing energy-saving programs on campus computers and establishing an advisory board for Campus Health’s Counseling and Psychological Services. However, Adkins said these goals cannot be achieved without help from the other branches of student government, like the Undergraduate Student Senate.
Head of Senate Katharine Shriver said the changes with the new Undergraduate Student Senate is a more effective legislative branch than the former Student Congress was. The former branch consisted of undergraduates and graduates, while the new Student Senate will be exclusively undergraduate students and focus on undergraduate issues.
“Graduate students thought they weren’t being heard and undergraduate students just didn’t know how to fix things, but now we’re starting a new branch with a clean slate,” Shriver said.
Tarik Woods, chairperson of the rules and judiciary committee, is currently working on a bill to reorganize districting in the student senate. He said this would allow for student government to include more members, such as first-generation students and members from each of the different academic departments.
“The Senate always has goals to become an active and efficient voice for the student population,” Woods said. “By expanding and making the Senate more diverse, we can reach out to students who can help us achieve that goal — becoming a more efficient student organization.”
However, Adkins stressed that in order to achieve that goal, there must be reforms to the election regulations, especially after the student body president election this past year. She is working with the undergraduate senate on changing the student code and updating the election bylaws to make sure that they’re ready to go for upcoming elections, such as Mr. and Miss UNC elections.
Additionally, Adkins acknowledged the importance of transparency.
“In the past, we have not done the best job with communication internally,” Adkins said. “We believe that if you don’t have strong internal communication, you cannot have strong or efficient external communication to the student body.”
To combat this problem, student government is putting out summer newsletters to keep people engaged during the summer and when they return to school, as well as revamping its social media and websites.
Adkins said she is looking forward to serving the student body to the best of her abilities.
“With every opportunity that crosses my path, I want to do as much as I can for the students and I never want to take any second of it for granted,” Adkins said.