Each year, the Editorial Board of the Old Gold & Black interviews all of the candidates running for executive positions in Student Government. The candidates filmed a three-minute video pitch to be posted on our website and answered questions regarding their platforms and goals for their prospective positions. Following these interviews, the Editorial Board made the following endorsements:
In the race for Student Government President, all five candidates — junior Chandler Averette, junior Maia Kennedy, junior Walter Jackson, junior Mellie Mesfin and sophomore Toki Hong — presented thoughtful and cogent platforms to improve the function of Student Government and improve life at Wake Forest. The Editorial Board could not decide on a majority vote for president and was evenly split between support for Kennedy and Jackson. As a result, we have chosen to endorse both.
Both candidates would bring extensive Student Government experience to the office and both presented clear, specific and actionable policy platforms. The Editorial Board especially liked Jackson’s plans to ask local businesses to offer student discounts and to petition the university to be more transparent in tuition increases each year; both goals are aimed to create more savings for students. We also believe his ideas for reform to Student Government through efficiency and productivity will benefit the student body.
The Editorial Board also believes that Kennedy’s experience in a Student Government executive position, as she currently serves as Secretary, has prepared her well for the position of President; she has demonstrated that she can deliver campaign promises as she discussed her consent awareness campaign and updates on spaces for on-campus dogs, which were a part of her platform last year. Kennedy’s platform focuses on student wellness, sexual misconduct awareness, inclusive diversity and spaces for on-campus dogs.
As a three-year senator, former Student Government Speaker Pro Tempore and member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Student Organizations Council, Averette would also bring a depth of experience to the Presidential office. We were impressed by his commitment to hold regular “fireside chats” with students as was done by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Mesfin’s extensive involvement on campus — particularly with minority groups and social justice organizations — inform her platform of diversity and true integration, engagement with the Winston-Salem and a more proactive Student Government. While we were impressed with her previous engagement on campus, the Editorial Board was concerned that her lack of experience in Student Government — as she has never served in any capacity before — would pose challenges in trying to realize her goals.
As a Resident Advisor and member of the pilot Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Student Organizations Council, Hong has had a great deal of interaction with students and is well-informed about important issues on campus, which informs his platform about community, inclusion, growth and security. The slogan “Change is Gonna Start” well summarizes his campaign, as he expressed desire to change Student Government culture to make it more effective in enacting change rather than simply passing resolutions.
For Speaker of the House, the Editorial Board unanimously chose to endorse sophomore Miles Middleton. Other candidates include sophomore Jack Beyrer and junior Matthew David. Ultimately, we were impressed by Middleton’s additional desire and plans to increase communication and transparency between the student body, Student Government and the university administration, and how he has already done so as a senator. Middleton’s central goal is to help foster a community that focuses on similarities rather than differences.
Beyrer runs on a platform that focuses on streamlining discussions and discourse within Senate meetings. Beyrer noted that Student Government tends to set goals that it cannot achieve, and he hopes to streamline the deliberation and policymaking within Senate to make it a place of productive conversation.
David, who ran for President last year and is currently a senator, also seeks to reform Senate. He hopes to work more with senators to foster an entrepreneurial spirit so that they are better equipped to pass and then carry out bills. He believes that internal reform fits with his long-term vision that will ensure better Senate effectiveness in the future.
For Secretary, the Editorial Board unanimously chose to endorse sophomore Laura Horton. The other candidates running for Secretary are junior Isabella Ryan and freshman Alberto Bufalino. Horton has served as a senator for three semesters and served on the Judiciary and Academic Committees. We believe that Horton’s goals display thoughtful knowledge of the role of Secretary in how it can directly benefit the student body. Horton hopes to improve communication between the student body and administration through office hours and town halls, increase transparency between Student Government and the student body through weekly emails about legislation and improve campus safety through added blue emergency lights and crosswalks on and near campus.
Bufalino wants campus to become more involved with Student Government, and he hopes that establishing town halls would help make students more aware of Student Government decisions. The Editorial Board believes that Bufalino’s ideas would serve Student Government well and looks forward to his future executive office candidacy once he has had more time on campus and as a senator.
The Editorial Board was unable to meet with Ryan; however, she answered questions via email. Having served as a senator for three years, Ryan also hopes to improve transparency, and she also wants to increase diversity among mental health service providers on campus and take student opinions into account on hiring and policy formation committees.
For the position of Treasurer (which also serves as the chair of the Student Budget Advisory Committee), the Editorial Board unanimously endorses junior Andrew Wilson, who is running unopposed. We believe that Wilson’s previous experience on SBAC will allow him to best serve as an advocate for student organizations. As someone who is not pursuing a business or economics degree, Wilson also brings a unique perspective to the role of Treasurer.
The Editorial Board of the Old Gold & Black was honored to meet with the wide range of candidates this year and recognize all their strong abilities and desire to make positive change happen on our campus community. We wish each candidate the best of luck in their campaign.