Lamar Richards, a UNC sophomore, is one of two candidates running for student body president for the 2021-2022 school year. A member of the Undergraduate Senate, Richards currently serves as the chairperson of the Commission on Campus Equality & Student Equity.
In an interview with The Daily Tar Heel, Richards said he would lead an “administration of transition.”
“We want to institutionalize everything we possibly can so that future leaders will step into a system that is already up and functioning pretty well,” he said.
Richards is particularly focused on bridging the divide between marginalized students and student government.
Affordability and accessibility
- Address financial needs of students through changes to infrastructure and direct mutual aid
- Advocate for increase in graduate student stipends
- Establish the Academic Supplies and Textbook Affordability Fund
- Create Accessibility Resources & Service advisory group
- Improve accessibility of physical spaces and buildings on campus
Being a voice for students
- Establish Student Advisory Council to the Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Launch a “lunch with student leaders” initiative
- Host bimonthly meeting between student leaders and members of the Board of Trustees
"The one thing I think has been the most valuable lesson to me is that this is not a one-man show. I have to be willing to work with others and by being the chairperson of the commission, bringing all those different groups representing marginalized students together, I've first-hand got experience on how to do that effectively. And so, I do believe that as Student Body President, the role of this is more to be a vessel to funnel student opinion and student conversation up to the administration, and not push myself, but instead give these marginalized communities the platform and the voice and the microphone to amplify their concerns and what they have to say."
Diversity, equity and inclusion
- Increase access to academic and professional opportunities for students from underrepresented groups
- Focus on LGBTQ+ students and gender inclusivity
- Provide safe spaces on campus to protect the voices and experiences of Black students
"The top-down model of leadership that the UNC Administration uses often excludes what's actually happening on the ground, as I like to say, with students and staff, particularly those of color. Part of my experience as the Chair of the Commission of Student Equity has been working with student groups that represent marginalized students, as well as the office of D and I, to implement actual inclusive practices across campus. But also it's really, really, really important that we hold the university accountable on what they are failing to do, which is include student perspectives in their decision making."
Reforming student government
- Restructure student government to a “department model”
- Establish the roles of Chief Diversity Officer and Student Organization Coordinator within student government
- Institutionalize robust recruitment process
- Explore possibility of creating work-study positions through student government
"If we believe that the office of SBP is limited, let's figure out why. How can we expand the reach of SBP? How can we allow the SBP to get more involved directly into campus? 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. But as far as the Student Constitution goes, the SBP has a lot of opportunities and avenues they can explore and I think my team and I are really interested in revamping that and regaining some of that power to directly affect students."
"As a Black student on campus, as a gay student on campus, I first-hand really did — have always thought that student government was some type of super exclusive club, very unapproachable, very uninviting. We have to change that perception and be more visible. Part of the issue is that we make it to where 'Oh, you know, you have a problem, come to us, come to us, come to us." And that's not always the best approach, especially when you're dealing with communities that have historically been disadvantaged or oppressed."
Sexual assault and safety
- Advocate that the Campus Safety Commission be given sanctioning and oversight privileges over UNC Police
- Advocate for a comprehensive overhaul of Alert Carolina and other emergency alert systems
- Expand SafeWalk and reinstitute SafeRide program
- Reform sexual assault reporting process
- Expand mandate of Counseling and Psychological Services to include campus safety
"Sexual crimes are really underreported in communities of color, especially in the Black community, and that's not by chance. So next, we have to address the areas, both in policy and in physical space where sexual crimes are more prevalent. We know some facts. We know that sexual crimes and sexual violence is prevalent in the Greek community, we know that sexual crimes are happening more often at night, and not in the morning, we know these things. These are not opinions, these are facts."
- Create two new roles within the Executive Branch: Student Director of Student Wellness and Safety and Assistant Director of Mental and Emotional Wellness
- Advocate for the creation of a CAPS oversight board
- Increase flexibility of University-approved absences and expand the policy to include wellness days
- Advocate for the hiring of counseling staff from underrepresented communities
- Conduct an independent external review process of services offered by Campus Health
"We have this, but the target population does not know it exists. The multi-cultural program was to target underrepresented and marginalized students on campus, who are the most reluctant community to use auxiliary services like CAPS and Campus Health. And so, a lot of my peers of color don't want to use CAPS, and so one of the things we need to do is open up and broaden our communication with these groups. Don't just post on the website, don't just send an email. Communication is not a one-size-fits-all experience."
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