As a junior public policy major, Student Body President Candidate TJ Edwards has always had an interest in politics.
This interest, however, is not what led them to run for this position.
Edwards said some of their main motivations have come from their own academic challenges such as navigating classes during the pandemic and receiving accommodations when diagnosed with autism early in their college career.
They said they were "infuriated" by the lack of compassion shown from professors during the pandemic, and that UNC did not have accommodations readily available for students with autism.
“I just kept finding myself frustrated,” Edwards said. “And as someone who has this political inclination and career path, I wanted it to be something that I could solve. Because I know that these problems are not unique to me.”
Another formative experience leading to their campaign for them came last March when police were called on Edwards due to a sleepwalking situation in the dorm. They said the police drew their guns, but because they were asleep during the interaction, they had to hear the story from their suitemate.
“With my experience and the experience that we saw last semester on Franklin Street with ALE (Alcohol Law Enforcement) — it's clear that there is a serious issue here, and that issue needs to be addressed," Edwards said.
Edwards said their experiences have inspired is their accessibility platform. Their campaign is focusing on creating policies to better accommodate students with mental disabilities.
“I think that one piece of accessibility that is constantly left out of the conversation is mental disability,” they said. “And this is something that obviously is near and dear to my heart as an autistic person.”