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Editorial: Our endorsement for UNC's Student Body President

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Vector portraits of 2023-24 Student Body President candidates Chris Everett and TJ Edwards. 

This year’s race for Student Body President has seen complications unlike those of years prior. You can only expect to see two candidates on the ballot on Feb. 21 – TJ Edwards and Christopher Everett. Furthermore, Graduate and Professional Student Government President Theodore Nollert emerged as a write-in candidate shortly before Election Day.

After conducting interviews and researching their campaign platforms, we’ve come to the unconventional decision not to endorse a candidate for the 2023 Student Body President race. 

This is not an effort to avoid partaking in the rigorous debates impacting our campus, nor are we attempting to discourage students from voting themselves. Rather, we want to be sure we are equipping our readers with confidently-made endorsements.

In maintaining transparency between ourselves and our readers, we cannot confidently endorse any candidate.

The lack of candidates left in the race is the first reason for our decision. Edwards and Everett’s platforms are not, in our view, meaningfully different. They both have incredibly strong policy stances, as well as areas in which we hope to see them grow. One candidate isn’t substantially “worse” than another. Forcing ourselves to pick between their platforms is limiting and unhelpful.

The lack of options for Student Body President is also indicative of serious issues with the election process. 

Time and expense requirements of a student government campaign, the need for 1,000 unique signatures to qualify to run and the potentially performative nature of the position has contributed to a uniquely ineffective electing environment, not unlike our own state and federal elections. 

These policies draw candidates with expendable income, more time than the average student and certainly those looking to bolster their resume. Privileged students, who might not be privy to issues that plague the average UNC community member, are the ones elevated to fix problems. This results in underwhelming platforms which don’t inspire innovative solutions.

It’s important to mention that the role of a Student Body President is notoriously limited. We don’t expect the president to solve every problem at UNC. But we expect thorough, thoughtful and creative solutions, instead of platforms that are merely policy goals without mechanisms for bringing them to fruition. We want a Student Body President who is realistic about their goals and what they can accomplish during their term with their resources.

Although we are not endorsing a candidate, we do not want to discourage you from voting. Each candidate brought forth several promising attributes. The Editorial Board admires Edward’s dedication to accessibility on campus, as well as Everett’s platform of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. If elected, we hope to see Nollert bring forth his goal of livable wages for graduate student workers.

No matter who is elected, we are excited about the future of our student government. We hope to see it grow to better meet the needs of the student body and are eager to continue to voice our vision for UNC.

Read how we made our endorsement decision here. Review each candidate’s platform and be sure to vote however you see fit on Feb. 21.

@dthopinion

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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