The Editorial Board is endorsing Lamar Richards for student body president.
This election cycle was not an uneventful one. COVID-19 presented unique challenges to all candidates, and accusations of falsification arose following an alleged "ballot sharing" scheme.
We strongly encourage students to make their voices heard by casting their vote for the next student body president. Voting opens on Feb. 23, and will take place through HeelLife.
The Editorial Board thoroughly researched each candidate's platform and conducted interviews with both candidates to assess their qualifications for office.
We believe that a strong candidate addresses several meaningful topics in their campaign — ranging from diversity and inclusion to sexual assault and safety on campus. The ideal candidate has the ability to garner support and represent multiple communities within the student body.
Richards has made it clear that a priority of his campaign is bridging the gap between marginalized communities and Student Government. The Editorial Board found his policy proposals for affordability particularly strong, as well as his commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and ability to act as a voice for students who are often excluded.
The Editorial Board agrees that Richards has proven he is capable of adequately and effectively articulating the needs of students of color. His experience speaks for itself — Richards serves as a member of the Undergraduate Senate, as well as the chairperson of the Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity.
The Richards campaign looked at all issues through a racial equity lens, which we believe is important in creating a more inclusive Student Government process. His emphasis on an “open door policy” and robust communication strategies make him a powerful voice for students amid a time of uncertainty.
The Board believes Richards is willing to be an advocate for students who need someone to advocate for them. Richards has made it clear that as student body president, he is dedicated to thinking outside of the rigid structures of Student Government to get things done and provide UNC with changes that it desperately needs.
Though Richards' platform was extensive, some areas were not as comprehensive as we had hoped. For example, we hope to see Richards expand upon his plan to address sexual assault and safety on campus, especially given the potential for a full return to campus in the fall.
We also look forward to seeing further details regarding how some of the policies he has proposed will be funded and executed. While we appreciate that Richards is dreaming big, we do believe that practicality is important to consider. We even asked him about it, and he made it clear he plans to think outside of the box.
"I do think, because of the lack of use and conservative use of the office in the past, it’s led to a lot of limitations on what the SBP can and cannot do," he told us. "But as far as the constitution goes, the SBP has a lot of different opportunities and avenues they can explore. I think my team and I are really interested in revamping that and regaining that power to directly affect students."
While both candidates running for student body president this year are more than qualified for the task, the Editorial Board believes that Richards has proven that he is willing to advocate for the student body, as well as stand up to the administration when necessary.
During this contentious period in UNC history, Richards' voice is exactly what we need.
We commend him for his initiative and dedication. We — along with the student body — will be watching to see what he can do.
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