The Daily Tar Heel's Eliza Benbow sat down with Student Body President Christopher Everett to discuss his administration's plans for the school year and his advice for incoming students.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Daily Tar Heel: What are some things that incoming students should know about you?
Christopher Everett: I really want them to know that I’m trying to be very accessible to the student body. I’m definitely trying to answer my DMs, so I know just how important it is to have access to the student body president.
I’ve been diligently doing that work, and I would hope that the first-years coming in know that they also have the same access to me, whether it’s shooting me an email or using my Calendly, whatever it is, setting up a meeting. I’m just trying to make sure that they know that I’m there.
I also want them to know that I’ve been in their shoes before. It was a very interesting experience, being a first year during COVID. I hope and pray that they do not have that experience as I did, but I really hope that they see just a piece of themselves in me and know that they can be represented in the work that I do.
DTH: What are the things that you wished you had known as a new student?
CE: I wish I would have known how many opportunities there are at Carolina. I came in from North Carolina Governor’s School West in 2019 which was so amazing, but I had friends who were Morehead-Cain Scholars, friends who were just these amazing things that I simply was not. I had a lot of imposter syndrome.
I wish I would have known that there are so many different opportunities that are still available regardless. I ended up joining Honors Carolina after my sophomore year, I was in the running for Robertson Scholar, just so many different things.
Carolina has really great club sports, I was in club gymnastics and that was so amazing. There are just so many things that Carolina offers that really allow you to chase after whatever you want to do. That’s been very, very beautiful.
Particularly club sports, I’m such an advocate for club sports, because I miss doing gymnastics, hoping to go back soon, but I definitely would encourage to really make use of every single opportunity that there is on this campus, across this campus. Set up a random meeting with someone, just do whatever you can to really have the best four years here.
DTH: You’ve spoken before about prioritizing well-being in order to be a good leader. What advice would you give to students about balancing well-being with academic and extracurricular activities?
CE: I would just really encourage first-years to know, academics are so important — this is a Public Ivy — but in the same vein of things, you are so much more important than that.
There’s a balance to have and it can be tricky to come in fully just academic, but it can also be tricky to come in fully social. You really have to find that middle ground, and so I surrounded myself with a great group of friends, which really helped.
I had friends who were doing STEM and always studying and I had friends who were doing other things and just had more time for social spaces, but I would say that both are so deserving of your time, your space — your academics and your social life — and they both are a piece of mental wellness here.
There’s no shame in using resources that really help that, so I used Counseling and Psychological Services my first year. I was in a meditation group, and that was such an amazing experience because that was the closest I could get to therapy at the time. UNC also has a lot of resources that can really help you prioritize your mental wellness, but definitely just giving yourself the grace and the space to be a student also, you know, be 20, 21.
DTH: What should students expect from you as SBP? What are your administration’s objectives going into the 2023-24 academic year?
CE: This was a huge transition off of a very wild election. But, the first thing that I’ve really been cognizant of is not really trying to reinvent the wheel, so I’ve been really working to support so many different initiatives that are already going on.
So, for example, supporting the Violence Prevention and Advocacy Services for Denim Day. Helping to support multiculturalism, that’s a really big goal of mine. We’re working with Students for Asian American Studies to get an Asian American Studies program here right now – I’ve been talking to the chancellor about it, I’ve been talking to the provost about it, even the Board of Trustees.
Really wanting to support the Black Student Movement, getting Upendo back. I was in a meeting with the new BSM leader, president Joann Obioma — she’s amazing — to get their space back and ensure that every organization really has a space on this campus.
Also, really hoping to just better relationships with graduate and undergraduate students. My predecessors were great about that and have already started that. Lauren Hawkinson is the new graduate professional student government president, she and I have already built a strong relationship — she’s amazing, I love her so much. So, working with her and just trying to create space for graduate professional students in the BOT space particularly.
Also, just working a lot with the University, I hope that they can really see that. There’s a food pilot program coming this fall to combat food insecurity, so working with that.
And so many other things, working with the University on accessibility and just more leadership and initiatives or programming with SLL, which is Student Life and Leadership. But all this to say, really wanting them to see that I’m definitely supporting everyone that I possibly can.
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