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The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: Our endorsement for UNC's 2024 Student Body President

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Student Body President candidate Jaleah Taylor stands on the steps of Wilson Library.
Photo Courtesy of Jaleah Taylor.

On this year’s ballot, you will see two candidates for UNC's student body president — Jaleah Taylor and Laura Saavedra Forero. Saavedra Forero's candidacy was announced early Tuesday following technical difficulties on the side of the UNC Board of Elections that initially kept her off the ballot. 

The Editorial Board researched the two candidates' platform, conducted interviews with each candidate and met as a group to assess their qualifications. After this careful examination and analysis, the board decided to endorse Taylor for the role of student body president.

The candidates have similar platforms, touching on diversity, accessibility and making UNC a place for everyone. Although the candidates' policy priorities were similarly aligned, we found that Taylor's goals — and the paths for meeting those goals — were clearly outlined in her platform. She remained pragmatic about the power given to SBP, yet the importance and depth of her plans were not dulled by that practicality.

The individual who holds this role is our foremost representative as students and will likely be one of the few progressive voice on the UNC Board of Trustees. We believe a willingness to work with University leaders they may disagree with in order to reach compromise is key. 

Taylor’s history in the Undergraduate Executive Branch serves her well, and we feel she will be able to build upon the experience she already has to build a better campus for us all.

We also felt that the Taylor administration's policy proposals were thorough and diverse, covering critical issues that need to be addressed on campus. Taylor’s 40 page “Full Policy Platform” is not lacking in solutions or depth. The structure of the policy plans suggests a detailed proposal to form an independent student advocates office serviced by 15 activists to extend professional resources including filing appeals and representing students in hearings in addition to reviewing grade appeals. 

Taylor capitalizes on the model of the program’s success at other universities, such as at UC Berkeley and Cornell. Her designs hold weight that are solidified by other positive statistics including the more than 100 student cases documented at these institutions.   

She also has specific and detailed plans to bring about improvements on campus, specifically in the grading systems and the meal plan system, both of which are issues that affect students' wellbeing.

With a strong emphasis on enhanced student engagement encouraging the implementation of a Heel Life app, in addition to marketing club involvement in the spring semester, Taylor plans to connect students. 

Most notably, Taylor defines herself and her administration on the principles of transparency and diversity, inclusion and belonging. This is at the forefront of her policy platform. We believe students do not just deserve to experience the outcome of government conversations, but to hear them as well. We also strongly believe the next student body president should represent the diverse student body at UNC.

Regardless of our endorsement, the Editorial Board is glad to see two progressive and powerful candidates to choose from in this election. Saavedra Forero’s vital advocacy has been instrumental to campus life, and we hope to see her take on a position where that advocacy can be at the forefront of her work, which ultimately may not be SBP. 

Her campaign highlights incredibly important changes that need to be made in terms of accessibility. With over $1 billion worth of UNC maintenance backlogged, the University needs more than its student body president to tackle this campus' lack of accessibility — namely the N.C. General Assembly. Both Saavedra Forero and Taylor's campaigns clearly display their passion for the University community and their commitment to productive advancements on issues that are close to their heart.

Early voting started Thursday, Feb. 8, and will end Friday at 11:59 p.m. Election Day is Feb. 14 from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. We urge you not to overlook the important role that elected student officials play in advancing a more equitable and just campus, and make sure you exercise your right to vote in this election cycle.

@dthopinion

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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