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The Daily Tar Heel

Incoming SBP, administration work to make structural changes with Student Government

"When we say we're bringing change, we mean we are starting from the ground up."

Sophomore Lamar Richards was elected UNC's 2021-2022 student body president on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, defeating his opponent, junior Keshav Javvadi. Photo courtesy of Hanna Wondmagegn.

Student Body President-elect Lamar Richards has a new vision for Student Government, starting with a structural overhaul. 

This restructure will focus on creating new roles and cabinets designed to make Student Government more accessible and efficient for students.

In the past, Student Government has functioned primarily with the executive board and cabinet separated. Traditionally, the executive board is made up of the president, vice president, chief of staff, secretary and senior advisers, while the senior cabinet included around 20 additional members each leading different committees and boards — adding up to more than 200 people total.

Richards said that this long chain of command held back Student Government's effectiveness and efficacy.

"If you wanted to get approved for something, it took a week and a half to get up and a week and a half to get back down to the decision," Richards said. "I think that's not the way it should be. We're all working together with the same aim and toward the same goal."

The restructure will create five new cabinet departments that will work closely with Richards and the executive board.

The new departments will focus on:

  • Academic affairs and professional development 
  • Student wellness and safety
  • Campus life and student experience
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Civic engagement and outreach services

Each new department will also open applications for assistant directors and coordinators. 

Keisha Solanki, a sophomore and incoming chief of staff, said this opportunity would allow a more transparent and accessible Student Government, strengthening the communication within all parties. 

"In this upcoming year, team dynamics are very important, and we want to make sure that we have people who are very open to hear each other's perspectives," Solanki said. "We want students who are committed to break down barriers and are ready to work in a very collaborative environment."

Members of the executive board said students from any background can apply — emphasizing that no experience is needed to be a part of the upcoming cabinet. 

Collyn Smith, a junior and the incoming vice president, said it is essential for students to know that these changes are also designed to create a more welcoming space in the Student Government community — making it less intimidating. 

"When we say we're bringing change, we mean we are starting from the ground up," Smith said. "We want to give people a lot of control over what the Student Government looks like, and we want to make sure that the voices that have traditionally been excluded from these spaces are included."

The applications for some of the new positions will be open until March 29. 

Richards said some of the applications would continue to stay open for the next few weeks as new positions are created. He also added that some roles would remain open until August to allow incoming first-year students to apply.

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