The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday February 2nd

Column: Choosing a student body president

Students walk past campaign signs for student body president candidates Ashton Martin and Jane Tullis in the Pit on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.
Buy Photos Students walk past campaign signs for student body president candidates Ashton Martin and Jane Tullis in the Pit on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.

Student body president elections are coming up, and the editorial board of The Daily Tar Heel has a tradition of endorsing a candidate each year. In 2019, for example, we endorsed former student body president Ashton Martin, and last year, we endorsed Reeves Moseley, the current student body president. 

Why do we do this?

There is historically low voter turnout in campus-wide elections — just 4,161 students voted for student body president last year. Yet the office of student body president is an important one, as they preside over the undergraduate executive branch of student government and vote as an ex-officio member of the UNC Board of Trustees.

The election process can be confusing, and not everyone has the same access to the candidates that we do. We want to change that. Last year, inspired by the editorial board of The New York Times and their endorsement for the Democratic presidential nomination, we decided to shed light on the process by publishing videos of our interviews with the candidates.

Of course, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in those plans, much like it has changed everything else. We won’t be interviewing candidates in person this year, but that doesn’t mean we want to make our decision behind closed doors. 

Alongside our endorsement, we’ll be posting audio recordings of each candidate’s response to our questions, so you can hear where they stand on the issues — in their own words.  

We’re here to help you make a decision, not make a decision for you. We recognize that our values and priorities may not be the same as everyone else’s — which is why we try to be as transparent as possible about our decision so that our readers can use that information to make their own.

It’s important to note that our endorsement does not represent the opinions of The Daily Tar Heel or its staff. Rather it represents the consensus of the editorial board — which comprises 17 board members, the opinion editor and assistant editor, and the editor-in-chief.

So, how does it work?

The editorial board meets in advance of the election to discuss what we are looking for in UNC’s next student body president. Here, we decide what issues are most important to us. This might include things like accessibility, diversity and inclusion, mental health, reforming student government, etc. 

We read through each candidate’s full platform and attend as many debates as possible to learn as much as we can about the candidates. Once we’ve done our research, we come up with a list of questions about where they stand on the issues that matter most to us as students. 

Then, we interview each candidate and meet again to make a decision.

You can expect our endorsement in advance of election day on Feb. 23. In the meantime, we want to hear from you! If you have any questions for the candidates or just want to know more about the endorsement process, don’t hesitate to reach out via email or on Twitter

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