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Student Body President candidate Sage Staley wants to not only create her own legacy at UNC, but to help other students create theirs as well.

She said that one of her campaign slogans, “Your Legacy. Our Legacy. Carolina,” encompasses what she hopes to do as student body president.

Staley, a Black woman, said she would be one of only a few other Black students and women who have held the position. If elected, she hopes to continue diversifying student government and increasing accessibility to it. 

“I know that I’m not the first but I would hope that I’m not the last,” she said.

A junior political science major from Salisbury, N.C., Staley said that she was often the lone Black student in the classroom or in leadership roles across her community.

She said she took that experience as a learning opportunity to equip herself to be comfortable and successful in any environment.

“I know that I’m comfortable in my own skin and sometimes being the only person that looks like me in the room, but there’s a lot of people that don’t,” Staley told The Daily Tar Heel.

Stone Watson, a junior majoring in political science and human organizational leadership and development, is a campaign manager for Staley.

Watson said that expanding student government to include more students is something that Staley hopes to do if elected. 

“It’s a very isolated group of people and she wants to open that up to more people in the Carolina community,” he said.

Staley said she believes that her relationship with University administration and the diversity of her campaign team are two things that set her apart from other candidates.

This year, she began her third year on the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor. She said this position has allowed her to build connections with UNC administration, a relationship that would be critical in the student body president role.

Something that Staley's campaign prides itself on is representing the graduate students in the platform as well — something that Watson said is not often highlighted in other campaigns.

Her platform includes working with the dean of the Graduate School and expanding graduate and professional student recruiting to uphold racial equity in the process.

“She is one of the only candidates that has included a lot of grad student policies in it as well,” Watson said.

Other key issues that Staley and her team want to focus on include supporting student mental health and combatting the pandemic.

Gabriela Duncan, a junior majoring in environmental justice and minoring in geography, is a policy adviser and on the outreach staff of Staley’s campaign. 

Duncan said that mental health resources for students, like UNC Counseling and Psychological Services, are complicated. She said that streamlining the process will allow more UNC students to use CAPS to its full potential.

“We want to bring more attention to that to make sure that everyone has a more positive experience here at Carolina,” Duncan said.

Staley also acknowledged that mental health is a pressing issue on campus.

“Carolina absolutely has a mental health crisis," Staley said. "We cannot sugarcoat it, we cannot downplay it. It’s here, it’s very real."

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Part of Staley's plan to improve mental health on campus is to initiate a relationship with CAPS and ensure that they are properly funded. 

“This past semester, and really this whole year, we’ve seen how much our students really care about each other, but we need that from administration,” she said.

In terms of the pandemic, Staley said that taking the best safety measures possible is essential to maintaining an open campus.

She said that she would like more help from University administration in securing N95 masks, and that masking in all classrooms is vital. If elected, Staley wants to ensure appropriate personal protective equipment materials for all students.

Staley also said she hopes to inspire students who don't have much experience with student government.

“I want them to see me and see me being successful in this campaign and basically show them that you can wake up one day and say, ‘Hey I think I want to run for student body president,’ and be successful, and have people believe in you,” she said.