As president, Yolian Ogbu would imbue SGA with inclusivity and action

As president, Yolian Ogbu would imbue SGA with inclusivity and action

As president, Yolian Ogbu would imbue SGA with inclusivity and action
April 03
13:30 2019

What comes to mind when you think of a student body president? Many of us think of a straight-A student dripping in university merch looking to fluff up their resumé with student government experience. They are often assumed to be a wealthy, Greek-life student with the time and resources to campaign. But just because it is easier for these students to win elections does not mean they are best suited for the job.

Thankfully, the candidates for the 2019 Student Government Association presidential race seem more committed to improving student experience than adding to their list of accomplishments.

It is not exactly a secret that leaders in American politics, local politics and even governing bodies of schools and universities do not consider the concerns of many of the people they represent. UNT’s SGA is not exempt from the possibility of this happening either, which begs the question: Are those who seek to lead the student body really on our side, or are they just in it for the title, clout and exclusive opportunities such as presenting figures like Jane Goodall at UNT’s Distinguished Lecture Series?

When voting for SGA president begins on April 8, UNT students need to take a step back and decide which candidate is best fit to steer this ship.

SGA presidential candidate Yolian Ogbu has built her campaign upon accurately reflecting the student body and directly addressing the issues we face, especially groups whose interests are typically overlooked. For this reason, the North Texas Daily is endorsing Ogbu for SGA President.

Though Ogbu has had little SGA experience and her running mate Hillary Shah has not been involved in it before, we feel this is an advantage as they have expressed their awareness of their opportunity to be even more immersed in the real issues on campus. Their degree of separation from the student senate allows Ogbu and Shah to rise above any previously entrenched culture of “clout-chasing,” a common complaint of college student governments today.

Ogbu and Shah are candidates who see issues in the school and have chosen to step up and implement change, not run for higher ranks because they feel it is the most natural step up from their current positions in SGA.

Their campaign is structured around four important pillars of student life: equity and campus climate, student investment, interpersonal violence prevention and community engagement. In addition, the two have outlined specific policies intended to improve each of these facets, such as raising minimum student worker wage, standardizing gender-inclusive housing and more.

Improved campus lighting at night, attendance policy reform, aid programs for low-income and first-generation students — all of these defined policies would positively impact the student body. Complete lists of the pair’s policy ideas can be found on their campaign website, yolianandhillary.com.

Vice presidential candidate Shah said the duo’s campaign is about action. They want a more transparent SGA and they “actually have policy as to how [they are] going to have transparency,” according to an interview they had with the Daily. This specificity of initiatives is uncommon among candidates who have run in recent elections and should be reassuring to UNT students.

Not without reason, the Daily hasn’t endorsed an SGA candidate in recent years. We feel as though Ogbu and Shah have the ideas and perspectives to usher in a new era of leadership in SGA.

Going forward, we must support the policy-oriented candidates looking to support us just as much. When we do away with these age-old societal expectations and superficial preferences of gender, ethnicity or “respectability,” we can realize our full potential to elect officials with the unmoving conviction to better the lives of their constituency.

Update: A paragraph initially stated Yolian Ogbu had no experience with SGA previously. She did serve as the Advocate General but did not have prior experience as an SGA senator.

Editor’s note: Ogbu contributed an opinion column published on the Daily‘s website on March 21 before her candidacy for SGA president was announced. The Daily was not aware of her intentions to run for SGA president during the time of her submission and publication. To remain transparent, Ogbu’s contribution had no bearing on the Editorial Board’s decision to endorse her campaign.

Featured Illustration: Jordan Collard

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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