The UNC Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies hosted the second debate for the two 2024-25 student body president candidates on Thursday. Jaleah Taylor and Laura Saavedra Forero outlined the priorities of their platforms and answered student questions during the event.
DiPhi president Deniz Erdal, Daily Tar Heel University Editor Lauren Rhodes and Agora Fellow Willow Taylor Chiang Yang moderated the debate. The candidates answered 11 predetermined questions. Each were allotted seven minutes for response and time for rebuttal from the other candidate, followed by two questions provided by the audience.
In an interview with The DTH, Taylor said that if she had to pick one of her previous accomplishments to highlight for voters, it would be co-founding the Black Pre-Law Student Association. She said she thought it spoke to her ability to provide students with a place for community.
“When I think about being student body president next year, I think about opening more doors for students, especially marginalized students who don't always have those opportunities,” she said.
Saavedra Forero told The DTH that professionally, her previous term as Campus Y co-president represents her leadership style, but her ability to survive on campus as a wheelchair user has been the most difficult experience of her life.
“I’ve been able to navigate systems that weren’t built for me and not only navigate them for myself but become and be a constant advocate for a large number of students,” she said.
Saavedra Forero and Taylor agreed that every student should have the right to share their beliefs but should not be allowed to infringe on the rights of others.
When asked about their perspective on the University remaining neutral on the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, Saavedra Forero said it is critical to take clear stances on issues and her values do not allow her to remain silent. Taylor said she believes it is important for the University to not be biased.