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The Daily Tar Heel

Q&A: Campus Y co-presidents plan for the new year, prioritize radical rest and joy


Imani Rankins and Karina Vasudeva pose in front of Campus Y on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. Rankins and Vasudeva are the newly elected Campus Y co-presidents.

Both Karina Vasudeva and Imani Rankins have been active in the Campus Y since their first year at UNC. Coming full circle, they will be leading UNC’s chapter as seniors for the 2023-24 school year.

The Daily Tar Heel’s Noelle Harff spoke to Vasudeva and Rankins about their goals, challenges and how they plan to lead the Campus Y next year.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily Tar Heel: What does the Campus Y mean to you? What does it mean to the University?

Imani Rankins: It's such a multifaceted place, and for me, it's truly been a place of growth. I've been able to grow as well as transform — it's been a really transformative experience for me. 

It's given me a lot more courage and confidence in what I'm doing, and it also helped me build lasting connections to get me into some very cool places and do some very cool things.

Karina Vasudeva: For the University, there's something that they say in the Campus Y charter — they say that the Y is the conscience of the University. 

That resonated with me quite a bit because I think it's a spot where we have a great responsibility to be UNC as it should be — this inclusive, open community where you can come in and just come as you are, no expectations, nothing. 

That's the really beautiful thing to me, and I think UNC at its best is very reflective of what the Y is at its best.

DTH: What are your main objectives for the Campus Y this year?

KV: Imani and I's overarching mission is to create meaningful, lasting change in the community, and so the way that we've centered that is with a few key values and directions.

So, we wanted to center education, tying into that idea of making the Y an inclusive and accessible space.

We wanted to also prioritize research. The Y has a rich history. It's been here for over 100 years, and there's so much social justice work that's gone on, but not a lot of it's documented and there's a lot of research that still can be done and elevate the community, so that's something that we are looking forward to. 

We wanted to also lean into this idea of community. You can't pour out of your cup if it's not full, and we really wholeheartedly believe that.   

IR: We want to prioritize radical rest and joy. We want to be able to have rest and do things that feed our souls, as well as have fun, because a lot of the work that people in the Campus Y are connected to is very daunting. It's very difficult work that we have to do. 

DTH: What makes you a good fit as Campus Y President?

IR: I grew up being involved in social justice, even though I wasn’t affronted with the fact that it was social justice, I was just taught by my grandma you were just taking care of people and you were helping folks out. But as I grew up, I realized that expands into social justice efforts. 

But as I got to the Campus Y, in pursuing that, I also found community in that, and I found amazing people that I learned from and learned from me, and we all just wanted to help fix a particular part or work together to exceed the expectations of what might be set right now.

DTH: What kind of leader are you?

KV: I've always really liked the term servant leader. I think the term itself is kind of weird, but the principles that it stands for. 

I think oftentimes when we think of leaders, at least growing up, I thought of the leader as this white man who was in this big position of power and would be making the decisions and people would follow along. 

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As I grew up and as I've had these experiences, especially in high school and college, I've realized that leadership is very much about really de-centering your voice and uplifting other voices, and then working together towards this common vision. 

So, servant leadership, I don't love the term, but I feel like the principles of it are something that resonate with me, and I think that it ties really closely into this idea of coalition building. 

We aren't the sole leaders of social justice on campus. It means that we are centering community, and so I think that's the type of leader I am.


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