“Wait, you can do that?” the faculty member said.
Collins is a 30-year-old UNC law student running for student body president. If elected, he would be the first graduate student to be elected into the position.
Collins said many people were not aware a graduate student could even run for SBP. But with graduate students representing 36 percent of the student body, he said there needs to be a more representative voice, since many of the issues facing graduates and undergraduates overlap.
“A lot (of the issues) are the same regardless, whether it's campus safety, whether it is keeping things keeping University education affordable, whether it is changing our institution and our campus culture in a way that is more welcoming with students that have a variety of backgrounds,” Collins said.
Collins' older brother left for UNC when he was four years old. He grew up attending games and visiting campus.
“It was a question of where I wanted to go, but what I wanted to do once I got there,” he said.
During Collins’ senior year of undergrad, he served as Residence Hall Association president, later attending N.C. State University for his master's degree in Higher Education Administration.
He worked as a coordinator for residence life at UNC-Greensboro, which Collins said gives him experience in connecting with undergraduates. Now, he serves as the treasurer of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation.
Back at UNC for a law degree, his SBP campaign implements the lessons he’s learned over the years. Collins wants to reconnect the Undergraduate Student Government and GPSF, especially in a divided political and campus culture.
“We should be using organizations like the Joint Governance Council and saying, how do we want to address this as students, not as undergraduates and graduate students but how do we come together in the process as a student body,” Collins said.
Collins grew up in State Road, North Carolina. He said attending UNC has been a major growth experience, coming from a small town — but the values of community and hospitality have stuck with him.
Collins is aware of the criticism toward two white men running for SBP.
“I also have to recognize my own limitations and to know that in some settings, my job might not be to be the person to speak on a particular issue, but to use the position that I have to bring in individuals who should, who are in a better position to speak on that,” Collins said.
The SBP has a seat on the Board of Trustees and an active student role in the administration. Collins said the first thing he would suggest to Chancellor Guskiewicz is to leave South Building and interact with students, especially after the administration’s response to Silent Sam and the UNC System’s settlement with the North Carolina Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Inc., a Confederate group.
“I try to be conscious of the difficult circumstances we have, considering political leanings of the General Assembly,” Collins said. “That doesn't mean that the University just needs to sit on its hands. I think they need to do more.”
Reeves Moseley, a junior studying political science and public policy, is the undergraduate candidate vying for the position of UNC Student Body President.
Moseley, an out-of-state student from Texas, is involved with multiple organizations on campus. He said this helps his niche.
“Student government, different community service-oriented organization on campus and Greek Life, such as the one that I’m involved with, really allowed me to find my place at Carolina,” Moseley said.
Moseley's slogan is "#BridgeTheDivide" — which he said is broad so that it includes a variety of different ideals. He said the University often leaves behind key members of the UNC community.
“Students of marginalized communities still feel like they are being left behind by the administration and being ignored,” Moseley said.
Part of Moseley's platform is supporting marginalized communities through increased access to resources and other methods.
"In my years here, I have noticed a divided student population and a disengaged administration that has not adequately supported the student body, especially students of marginalized communities," he said on his website.
Moseley is a member of the Institute of Politics and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He believes students should note his involvement in Greek Life.
“I think every student should consider and should know that I’m a member of the Greek Life community,” Mosely said. “But what my work has done on campus through advocacy and activism has surrounded Greek Life in acknowledging the toxicity of that environment.”
Madeline Stiles, a sophomore studying advertising and public relations, does not believe it will affect Moseley’s campaign.
“I don’t really look at being in Greek life as a disqualifier or a qualifier for something,” Stiles said.
Moseley said his involvement in Greek life is only one aspect of his identity. Moseley also works with sexual assault initiatives to bring more awareness to Carolina’s campus.
“I think my work does show that regardless of the fact that I am a member of Greek Life, I do not condone sexual assault,” Reeves said. “I do not condone any of these toxic actions that may be taken part by members of the Greek Life community.”
Moseley said his campaign recruited a core team of members, each of whom reach different demographics and niches at Carolina. Moseley said he wants to emphasize his plans to help the student body.
“Look at the team I’ve been able to develop, look at the platform I’ve been able to comprise over the past couple of months and look at the initiatives I’ve taken part in,” Moseley said.
Moseley worked on Capitol Hill last year, lobbying for anti-hazing regulations at the federal level.
Moseley also has experience in student government on various levels. According to his website, he has served as an undergraduate senator, a member-at-large to the Joint Governance Council, liaison to the Association of Student Governments, an executive assistant to the Student Body President and the director of Town and Community Involvement for the State and External Affairs Task Force.
If elected Student Body President, Moseley said he will become inactive in all other organizations he is currently involved in.
“I’m not going to be part of any other organization outside of my classes,” Moseley said.
Partnering with student activists, increasing mental health awareness and promoting transparency are among the causes Moseley said he stands for on his platform.
"I’m dedicated to making the student body better,” he said.