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Sunday September 19th

Student body president candidates discuss policy goals at final debate

<p>Screenshot from the final Student Body President candidate debate held over Zoom on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.</p>
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Screenshot from the final Student Body President candidate debate held over Zoom on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.

Student body president candidates Lamar Richards and Keshav Javvadi had their final debate Monday — the night before the 2021 student government elections. 

The candidates debated topics including Greek life, LGBTQ+ student support, mental health policies and other student and faculty concerns. The debate was held over Zoom, and each candidate had one minute to answer questions submitted by those attending live or by the moderator.

In his introduction, Richards said that, if elected, he wants to “establish a foundation for marginalized students and underrepresented students to be better connected and feel heard within student government.”

Javvadi said he strives to be as accessible and emphatic as possible while getting the opinions of teammates and colleagues to challenge his own beliefs.

“Students in government cannot possibly solve the issues that students face if the students who have faced those issues aren’t at the table to begin with,” Javvadi said.

Student activism 

When asked how the candidates plan to coordinate student activism to make real changes at the University, Javvadi said he plans on increasing student engagement across all platforms while ensuring student advocates have a place within student government and UNC's administration.

“Not just recruiting students to work in the administration, but maintaining channels of contact and communication with student advocates throughout the entire years so we're aware what the pressing student issues are,” Javvadi said.

Richards began his response by acknowledging that past student body presidents have not been as involved in activism as they should have. He said he plans on fostering spaces of collaboration where student activists can get together and bolster support for these groups.

Greek life

The moderator asked the candidates what their response to Greek life on campus would be.

“Incidents of sexual violence and sexual assault happen to be more prevalent in and throughout Greek organizations,” Richards said.

Richards said that he wants to work beside these Greek leaders to fix these issues and open up channels of communication. He said the best way to meet these goals is working together, not in opposition to each other.

Javvadi spoke next. He said that, if elected, he plans on having an external review board for students at UNC who want to report incidents of sexual violence or gender-based violence and harassment.

“I want to mandate trainings for all student organization leaders and all students, period, in addition to faculty and staff,” Javvadi said.

LGBTQ+ issues 

The moderator then asked the candidates how they plan to serve LGBTQ+ students on campus.

Javvadi hopes to provide additional funding to LGBTQ+ students to have more affordable housing options.

Richards said he plans to foster and build more spaces where people of the community feel safer, and bridge the divide between marginalized and underrepresented students and the larger University.

“I know that navigating campus is really tricky and really daunting for students in our community,” Richards said. “A really important step is acknowledging people’s pronouns, especially within Connect Carolina and Sakai, within classes and instructing faculty how to navigate that.”

Mental health 

The moderator asked the candidates how they plan to address UNC student mental health concerns if elected to office.

Javvadi said that Counseling and Psychological Services needs revision and feedback, and one of the ways he plans on going about this is by implementing student focus groups

“Giving them the direct feedback so they as individuals can provide more quality service,” Javvadi said.

Richards said he plans on pushing the administration to hire more counselors and providers from underrepresented communities to work and provide services in CAPS.

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