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New Campus Y co-presidents plan to 'hold the University accountable'

Alli Whitenack (left) and Jessica Bolin are the new co-presidents for Campus Y, their term started March 9 — the day they received the keys for their new office.  

Alli Whitenack (left) and Jessica Bolin are the new co-presidents for Campus Y, their term started March 9 — the day they received the keys for their new office.  

It’s day five of junior Jessica Bolin and sophomore Alli Whitenack’s co-presidency at the Campus Y, and operations at UNC’s Center for Social Justice have not missed a beat. 

After an unopposed campaign, Whitenack and Bolin were given the keys to the co-president office on Friday, March 9. The former co-presidents, Alexander Peeples and Courtney Staton, will remain active in the Campus Y until the semester’s end. 

“We’ve already been transitioning with extensive meetings, preparing them for the roles and responsibilities,” Peeples said. “Why we transition so early is so that when they need advice and guidance, we are here. I’m excited to see how they follow through on the aspects of their platform and continue a trend of valuing radical activism.” 

Whitenack and Bolin have centered their presidency on two platforms: increasing transparency and communication within the Y and building relationships with surrounding social justice coalitions. 

Concerning the makeup of the Campus Y, the new co-presidents have noted its majority white population and want to focus on understanding and changing the demographics of the organization. 

“I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge, but it’s an issue, and we need to address it," Whitenack said. "What about the Y is attracting majority white? How can we make this welcome and inclusive for audiences that aren’t white?” 

Bolin followed up quickly that she and Whitenack would likely not spearhead this effort, as they are both white. 

The co-presidents see their duties for the following year primarily focused on bringing together the distinct committees of the Y and introducing cohesion to exist outside of meetings. Both women have been involved in the Campus Y and committees within it since their first year, and Bolin said she came to UNC specifically because of the Campus Y. 

The many organizations and charitable programs that the Campus Y oversees have been used by the UNC administration in recruiting and fundraising efforts, specifically in the For All Kind: The Campaign for Carolina

“How we saw through the Carolina For All campaign, the University really capitalizes on student activism and on the diversity that social justice organizations really value, but then we still have a symbol of white supremacy on campus,” Whitenack said. “They are taking advantage of the work that we do in the communities that we create and using it for their own capital gain and personal endorsement.” 

Whitenack and Bolin were synonymous in their feelings toward the UNC administration’s artificial relationship with the Campus Y. 

“There have been instances where the Y has received grants and then it’s been publicized in a way that made it seem like it wasn’t the Y that received that money,” Bolin said. “I know Chancellor Folt made a video last semester on public service and on the shots where it was just her saying, ‘Please come to Carolina! We care about public service!’ it wasn’t in front of her office, it was in front of the Y.” 

Peeples is also unhappy with the treatment of the Campus Y by the administration, who flaunt the Y’s historical setting in the University but do not financially endorse its endeavors. 

“It’s been marginalized by the larger administration and been ignored,” Peeples said. “A lot of the valuable projects we have are sometimes used as advertising but are not given the resources to thrive.” 

Bolin and Whitenack look to previous co-presidents as guides for how to construct their legacy. A large focus from the previous administration that will be continued by the new co-presidents is bringing in and helping social justice organizations. 

“At least for me, I would really like us to be remembered as co-presidents who weren’t necessarily afraid to rock the boat,” Whitenack said. “I want us to really hold the University accountable, really put ourselves on the line for the purpose of social justice on campus.”

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