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'We are out to build a foundation': Meet student body president candidate Lamar Richards

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Lamar Richards is one of two candidates running for Student Body President. Photo courtesy of Hanna Wondmagegn.

Lamar Richards is one of two candidates running for student body president this year. Here are Richards' goals for the position. 

The office of student body president has traditionally been reserved for a student in their last year at UNC — elected during the spring of their junior year and serving throughout their senior year.

Sophomore and UNC student body president candidate Lamar Richards wants to change that. 

“We have an idea of what the SBP should be, and we need to forego that and really eradicate that,” Richards said. “There's nothing that a student should be to be SBP. The SBP is a student who's willing and capable to lead — and that definitely is me.”

Richards said his “I, Too, Am Carolina” campaign — a play on Langston Hughes’ poem with the line, “I, too, am America” — is about giving a voice to the marginalized students who have long been ignored, both at the University and in Student Government. 

“I think we’ve spent so much time talking about what Student Government is, what it isn’t, what it has been, what it hasn’t been, and not really strategizing about who we can be and who we can include in that vision of where we need to be,” he said.

Richards’ platform includes extensive policy goals to expand resources to a variety of marginalized groups on campus. Some key elements of that plan include:

  • Establishing more direct funding and opportunities for low-income and other marginalized student groups
  • Increasing graduate student stipends
  • And expanding the offerings of Counseling and Psychological Services.

He also plans to overhaul the Student Government structure, adding several new positions and a recruitment program for marginalized voices to promote greater diversity in the future. 

“We are out to build a foundation,” he said. “If I could sum up all of my goals into one thing, that is it. These things will take years of advocacy work, but we are committed to being the foundation for that.”

Richards has a lot of experience in advocating for his fellow students, especially as the chairperson of the Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity. He said his work last summer with the commission was what solidified his decision to run for student body president this year. 

But Richards said what has shaped his leadership style the most has been his own experiences. 

“Just being marginalized, being Black, being gay — that's largely led my advocacy and who I want to be as student body president,” he said. 

Last week, Richards was the first candidate to achieve the 1,000 petition signatures needed to get on the ballot, thanks to an active social media campaign and communications outreach.

“By reaching that threshold, and not just reaching it but reaching it overwhelmingly, before even the day of the deadline — I think it just speaks to how people are ready to support robust and comprehensive change, and that we can be that force of change,” he said. 

If elected, Richards has pledged to advocate for measures to push forward what he calls “UNC 2.0.”

“Every student at Carolina is a part of a larger framework of communities of clinical belonging, and they're all pieced together to build a foundation,” he said. “What we’re doing is we’re undoing the entire foundation, and we’re building a new foundation that is built on collective belonging and inclusivity.”

Election Day for student body offices is Tuesday, Feb. 23. Polls are open from midnight to midnight.


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