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The Daily Tar Heel

'Connection is our key': Meet SBP candidate Teddy Vann

Taliajah "Teddy" Vann, a candidate for student body president, stands in front of the Old Well on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022.

Student body president candidate Taliajah "Teddy" Vann described herself as a pragmatic and diplomatic leader.

She said she is the best candidate for the role because of her experience and motivation. And her time as president of the Black Student Movement has proven her ability to take action on issues that are important to her.

“Our student body deserves a leader who is more than talk, and I have accomplished a great deal in my time here,” Vann said in an email. “I led the BSM in our fight to receive tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones and won that fight because the contributions of Black women deserve to be valued properly at UNC.”

Vann, a junior majoring in political science and film studies, said service was a key aspect of her upbringing. A Carolina Covenant scholar and first-generation college student, Vann said service remains a core personal value of hers.

“This campaign is centered around making sure that the office of student body president and the Undergraduate Student Government really becomes the hub of service,” Jailyn Neville, Vann’s campaign manager, said.

Vann's platform has four different phases — critical assessment, forward-facing accountability, systemic issues in North Carolina and campus culture and climate research.

In phase one, which Vann plans to implement before the Fall 2022 semester, she laid out steps for campus-wide mental health reform, a sexual assault resource hub, improved financial inclusivity and more. 

Vann said part of her plan to address mental health on campus is to create a channel between UNC Counseling and Psychological Services, Office of the Dean of Students and Accessibility Resources & Service. 

Vann’s plan for addressing sexual assault on campus is to provide a centralized hub of resources and support since there is no current central location students can go to. She also wants to implement an anonymous reporting tool under the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and advocate for mandatory training for Greek organizations.

If elected, Vann plans to hold what she calls "Ted Talks" with the student body. These will be two-hour periods biweekly where any student who wants to can come speak with her. 

“I want to send a very clear message to our student body that I am not some figurehead or fixture that you cannot touch or engage with,” Vann told The Daily Tar Heel. “Your student body president should not be untouchable. You should be able to connect in the same way that we do on the campaign trail. Connection is our key, it’s our greatest strength.”

Vann also said she plans to bring back equity scorecards to campus, which would evaluate each University department using a grade system, then address the deficiencies.

She also said her campaign will also focus on the issues of graduate students because their current wage is below the poverty line. 

“That’s unacceptable. They bring so much richness and value to our campus,” Vann said. “They deserve to be poured into in the same way that they pour into us everyday.”

Vann met first-year Morgan Jordan, who is now one of her chief media coordinators, when she mentored her at a retreat through SPARK, a program that supports undergraduate women of color at UNC.

Jordan said she has grown so much under Vann’s mentorship.

“Previous administrations have left a mark, but I think this mark will just be special,” she said. “Teddy is such an amazing special person that the mark, the legacy that she will leave will be like none other.”

Vann said she is committed to serving the student body as a whole, and that a core pillar for her is helping students understand they have the power to make change if they utilize it.

“You want a president, I think, who is fiery, who has that passion that they’re going to bring not only to this office but to everything that they do," she said.


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