Courtesy of Student Government

President: Pilar Agudelo

I am a junior from Portland, Oregon, but have lived abroad for most of my upbringing in Malaysia, Brazil, and Germany. I am currently studying abroad and pursuing a politics & international affairs major with minors in psychology and global trade and commerce studies. I have worked as a resident adviser and volleyball student manager. 

Before I came to Wake Forest, I had never imagined I’d be writing to ask you to elect me to be your next student body president. Now, however, I sit here writing this letter to tell you all a story, a story that started with frustration yet, over time, grew to motivation. Over the last three years at Wake Forest, I have seen and been involved in different aspects of campus. Each semester, we have faced new challenges together and it seems we have been repeatedly disappointed in the University’s response to these issues.

As a candidate to become the next Student Body President, I have identified different patterns of failures, taken my growing frustration during these failures and channeled them into motivation for improving this place we call home. Although my platform is not all-encompassing of every situation on campus, it is student-facing and addresses what I believe are the most pressing issues to us as a student body.

First, it is necessary to adapt how we provide mental health resources and support students. Student Government has done an amazing job planning Mental Health Week to engage the student body in practices of de-stigmatizing mental health. However, beyond one week of events, we must look forward to thinking about how every student can feel a sense of mental well-being. This change starts in the Counseling Center. I will work with various offices, departments and students to aid in restructuring their services to allow for better counselor retention rates as a way to leave fewer students feeling as if they were left in the dust. While I believe that counseling and therapy are key pillars to mental health, so are our day-to-day routines. In this sense, I plan to bring about better programming and training for all faculty, staff, and students to increase awareness around how mental health can impact individuals daily. Through structural and individual-based changes, we can work together to build a better support system.

Mental health, and the other issues on my platform, are rooted within intersectionality. These problems cannot be addressed without considering how they impact different areas within our campus community. Intersectionality is essential to this work, and ensuring equitable practices across campus, especially in our counseling center, will be focal points of my work if I am elected as student body president.

Additionally, sexual assault prevention and positive sexual health education are crucial components of my platform. I have been actively engaged with the Office of Wellbeing, constructing programming for safe sex and healthy sexual relations. I expect to continue this work with more inclusive and diverse programming like Sex Week and expand extensive services for students (such as Safer Sex Express). 

I also co-chaired the Student Government Sexual Assault Prevention, Support, and Accountability (SAPSA) committee. In doing so, I have brought the campus climate survey to Wake Forest and have been advising on its implementation. Reviewing the campus climate survey is one step towards a healthy community that promotes the wellbeing of every student. This survey is an opportunity to hear not only unheard voices but also a way to affect real change on our campus. 

I will work to increase the University’s efforts in preventative measures beyond surface-level online modules that often fail to impact or teach students. The overburdening of the SAFE Office and other care-based teams on campus to fulfill both support and prevention work means efforts often fall short. I want to ensure that survivors feel validated and have the undivided attention of support services on campus. This isn’t possible when these services also have to balance the hard work that is changing our campus culture.  I plan to create a permanent staff position focusing on prevention work.  This role will emphasize the intersections of sexual misconduct, race, gender, sexuality and more in prevention work. 

If I am elected president, three values will help center this work: trust, accountability and equity. Wake Forest has failed to build trust with its student body, was unable to hold itself and members of its community accountable, and while implementing new policies, did not take into account equitable practices by ignoring the intersectional impacts of its decisions. As president, I will work to uphold these values and will refuse to accept any less for our student body. I will always ensure an open dialogue representing the entire Wake Forest Community to stop the cycle of this pattern.  

I, like most, understand the importance of balance and the burden of “Work Forest.” Thus, I believe I am the most suited to be your next student body president.

Editor’s Note: This statement has been edited for clarity and AP Style.

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