Lately, many of my friends have been asking me why I care so much about who is Chapel Hill's next Student Body President. They want to know why I stop everyone I know on the sidewalk and remind them to vote for Emilio Vicente on February 18th. They want to know why I offer to explain the whole voting process or put them in contact with a member of Emilio's team if they have specific question. They want to know why a first year cares so much about something like the SBP race. So, here's my answer.
I don't want Emilio to be SBP; I need him to be SBP.
I need Emilio to be Student Body President for my friends who were accepted into the incredible university but could not attend because of the ever-rising tuition. I need Emilio for the undocumented students who are talented enough to go here but never even applied because they knew they could never afford it. Those students have a right to a great Carolina education and keeping Carolina exclusive, forcing students to take their talent elsewhere, hurts everyone.
I need Emilio to be student body president because to me, he represents the Carolina that is fighting back against the political forces that want to make public education accessible to only for upper class white students.
I need Emilio to be my student body president because for him, sexual assault is not a footnote. It's not something to be begrudgingly addressed because of recent events. I trust him because all of my friends at this university who are survivors believe in him to make Carolina a safer place.
I need Emilio to be my SBP because although the administration has been making steps in the right direction, I don't entirely trust them to support and believe survivors. I can't do much to directly affect the way administrators think about sexual assault. But I can fight like hell to have a student body president who will go to bat for marginalized students.
I need Emilio to be SBP because looking back on my first semester at Carolina, I could easily have been a victim of sexual assault. It could have been me on the front page of the Daily Tar Heel. Emilio is the only candidate to call himself a feminist, to take a clear stand to let me know that if something had happened, I would have had the SBP standing with me. That means more to me than I can say.
I need Emilio to be my SBP because I have three more years ahead of me at this incredible university. I love Carolina, but I know we can do better. Our first step to a greater, stronger North Carolina is voting for Emilio Vicente on Tuesday, February 18th.