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Meet Jaleah Taylor, the 2024-25 student body president

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Jaleah Taylor, the 2024-25 student body president, stands on the steps of South Building on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. Taylor currently serves as undergraduate student body secretary.

When Taylah Smith sat down alone in Political Science 100H: American Democracy in Changing Times on her first day of college in 2021, she said she turned to her left and found a friend in Jaleah Taylor.

Taylor, the current undergraduate student body secretary, was elected to be the 2024-25 student body president last week and will step into the position in April.

“There’s just no one else I’d really rather see sitting in the presidential chair than her, and I’ve known that since the very first day,” Smith, executive assistant to the current student body president Christopher Everettsaid.

Taylor said she is most looking forward to connecting with a variety of students and campus organizations in her presidency.

She said she had a vision for her SBP campaign beginning in September. Hitting the ground running in the fall, Taylor said her campaign staff began researching and drafting policies on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, civic engagement and outreach services.

Some of her most significant policies address food insecurity on campus alongside the lack of transparency between students, student government and UNC administration.

“I realized there hadn’t been a leader that had done all that work and really made an effort to get to know what the student body thinks and their concerns for the University,” Taylor said.

She said her time as secretary in the Undergraduate Executive Branch exposed her to a lot of the work she will do as SBP, including how to engage with students. To address their concerns, Taylor said she is planning on holding regular meetings with student organizations in an effort to encourage conversation.

This year, Taylor and Smith co-founded the Black Pre-Law Association, a student organization that aims to support Black aspiring legal professionals throughout their academic careers. Smith said Taylor’s leadership in BPLA demonstrates her willingness to tackle important issues head-on.

“She’s the kind of person who doesn’t just identify the world’s challenges but is actively taking the steps toward attainable solutions, and I think that will shine through in her presidency,” Smith said.

Jake Williams, executive manager of the office of the SBP and Taylor’s campaign strategist, said on Friday he overheard a student say that they were unaware that UNC had a student government.

One of Taylor's goals, he said, is to bridge the gap between student government and students themselves.

"I think that's the big goal, is to let students know that we, as a student government, are here for you," he said. "And I think that starts with having a leader who is going to embrace that goal and tackle it head on."

He said despite Taylor feeling nervous, her answers to audience questions during the first SBP candidate debate on Feb. 6 showed that she had prepared for the role extensively through research and conversations with student organizations. 

At the debate, she said she is committed to ensuring that every student feels seen, heard, valued and safe at UNC. 

“She is a student at the end of the day,” Williams said. “She has faced trials and tribulations on this campus. And I think that the way that she will be able to connect with students is really what is going to, in my opinion, make her different than a lot of the student body presidents that we’ve had.”

Outside of her work in Undergraduate Student Government, Taylor said she's just like everyone else.

She loves listening to music, and some of her favorite artists are Drake, Beyoncé and Travis Scott. Taylor said she was introduced to running at a young age through the Girls on the Run program. Last year she ran the Double Down Challenge at the Tar Heel Ten Miler for a total of 14 miles.

This year, she is hoping to run a marathon.

"I think it's very easy for students to feel like student government isn't actually a resource for them," Taylor said. "But I'm just a normal student, like every other."

@ashnqm

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Ashley Quincin

Ashley Quincin is a 2023-24 assistant university desk editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as a university staff writer. Ashley is a senior pursuing a degree in English and comparative literature, with a double minor in media and journalism and composition, rhetoric and digital literacy.

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