The news of three African American candidates vying for the position of Student Body President has created excitement among the entire campus community, especially among African American students.
While the candidates are proud to have made history with what is believed to be the first ballot for N.C. State Student Body President to contain only African American nominees, they know that because of the uniqueness of this year’s election, there may be a few extra hurdles ahead of them.
One of those potential hurdles is increased attention and scrutiny.
Just one day after Lauryn Collier, Dwayne O’Rear and Matthew Williams officially began campaigning for the office of Student Body President, it was reported that all three candidates had committed campaign violations.
O’Rear appealed charges made against him and was cleared of all violations. Williams also successfully appealed a charge that he was campaigning too close to University Dining Locations.
According to O’Rear, he and the other candidates have “100 percent” been placed under a larger microscope than candidates in previous years. “The Election’s Commission is much stricter this year,” said O’Rear something he equates in part to the fact that this is “an untraditional political race.”
While he agrees that this year’s election is untraditional, Williams believes this is one of its best qualities. “We pride ourselves on being a diverse institution, and I think this truly shows it,” said Williams. “To look at Lauryn and Dwayne and see that we’re doing this thing, that we’re representing N.C. State, it’s a powerful message not only to N.C. State students, but North Carolina and the rest of the United States that [even though] we’re not a Historically Black College or University, minority students still have a voice on campus.”
The current president of the Union Activities Board, Collier who has recognized several “underlying problems” at N.C. State believes that there is a lack of true understanding of diversity, throughout the campus. “We preach diversity, we have an office for diversity but there are students who are living a different experience on campus, that is not welcoming and are facing problems on campus that could easily be traced to a lack of cultural competence,” said Collier.
A pillar of culture within N.C. State’s African American Community, the African American Student Advisory Council (AASAC), is an organization which all of the candidates have had interactions with during their time at N.C. State.
Read below to find out how each candidate plans to enhance and help preserve AASAC and its comprising organizations as well as general information about the candidates.
“I have taken a frontseat in fighting for AASAC in a lot of things, and most recently with the Witherspoon renovations. I’ve always been the voice to say, ‘Have we thought about this?’ I would like to think that I constantly bring up those issues on behalf of the students. Also with black alumni, with the forum recently, I’m trying to make sure we have the same experiences they did back in the day when it was great to be black at N.C. State.”
“One of the main things is communication and making sure that new students know about it. [Via a university-wide website] we would have a universal calendar, so all the meetings could be listed there. It is all about that communication.”
“Many organizations are merging [next year]. As Student Body President I could bring AASAC into that union. With the union of these organizations it would effectively bring together the University more as one. I could be the mouthpiece for students that aren’t effectively represented on campus. I would try to bring to light those students’ needs and the group’s needs so that the University can be aware of that.”