The time for the 2021 SGA elections has finally arrived.
With three campaigns in the running this year, SGA veterans are running alongside newcomers.
One of these campaigns is EMPOWER, whose goal is to lift up the UT student body and focus on giving all students a full campus experience.
SGA presidential candidate Aubrey Robinson is at the helm of this campaign, a junior from Nashville studying political science and French. She stated the significance of their campaign name, citing the SGA mission statement.
“The EMPOWER (campaign) name was intentionally and thoughtfully selected by our Top Four candidates to convey our campaign’s goals and values. In fact, ‘empower’ is one of SGA’s values and appears in the SGA mission statement,” Robinson said.
The part of the mission statement Robinson mentioned containing the word “empower” is under SGA’s Values and Beliefs section. This section reads “That UT accept all values and beliefs, welcoming a diversity of opinions and perspectives. In so doing, that students are empowered to formulate their own beliefs and values while respecting those of others.”
That being said, this portion of the mission statement is a high priority for the campaign and holds as partial inspiration for them. Robinson continued to mention a quote that she feels summarizes their campaign’s leadership philosophies.
“... ‘leaders are not defined by their own power, but by their ability to empower others,’ which is exactly what our campaign is seeking to do -- empower our fellow Vols to have an even better college experience. There are so many types of empowerment, ranging from social, educational and economic empowerment, which encapsulates the entire college experience,” Robinson said.
Adding to this, vice presidential candidate Peter Mansfield — who is from Knoxville and a junior studying mathematics and economics — further explained their campaign’s intentional naming.
“Both within and outside of SGA, we want to empower students by giving them the resources they need, offering them a seat at the table and engaging them in every way possible,” Mansfield said.
There was even clear intention behind their campaign colors.
“We selected various shades of green, which symbolizes energy, freshness and new growth. Everyone on our campaign is really energized and passionate about making a positive difference on campus,” Robinson said.
Also a part of the EMPOWER campaign are Adejah Mack, a junior from North Carolina studying wildlife health and minoring in animal science, who is running as the Student Services Director, and Brian Lung, a junior studying marketing and supply chain management from Clarksville, running for executive treasurer.
“With so many students new to SGA running for positions, including my running mates Adejah (Mack) and Brian (Lung), they really contribute a unique perspective to SGA and bring so many new, fresh ideas. … As much as we love UT and the students that go here, we are running because we noticed that there is room for improvement and certainly ideas for growth,” Robinson said.
As for their primary goals and ideas for their campaign, the EMPOWER candidates are passionate about their three pillars: amplifying the student voice, engaging the student body and enhancing campus resources.
“Within these three pillars, a few of our policy initiatives are creating a Student Organization Operating Fund, increasing mental health resources and continuing to advocate for flexible academic policies,” Mansfield said.
Mack explained how she would especially focus on one of their three pillars if she were to be elected as Student Services Director: amplifying student voices.
“My goal is to be a liaison for students both within and outside of SGA as I, myself, have never been previously involved and understand what it’s like to be on the outside and feel lost in the purpose of the organization,” Mack said.
“I hope to bridge the gap between the branches -- especially student services and senate -- to create an open and welcoming environment for all.”
Another SGA newcomer, executive treasurer candidate Brian Lung, said that his goal if he were to be elected would be to work toward more accessibility and inclusion.
“UT is an expensive university and has many fees depending on courses. Additionally, to join any clubs or organization, there are membership fees. It should be one of our goals to help with students’ finances and autonomy over allocation decisions,” Lung said.
Mansfield cited “allowing students the autonomy to have the fullest experience possible while at UT” to be their most fundamental desire as a campaign. They feel that focusing on students should be their top priority.
Further, Mack noted that there is a lack of togetherness at the university, something she would like to see changed if she and her campaign were to be elected.
“I have personally experienced a division between the Ag campus and main campus, and between students in SGA and those who are not. I hope to bring my fresh perspective to SGA to really promote that sense of belonging,” Mack said.
SGA elections will be held from April 21 starting at 8 a.m. to April 23 closing at 5 p.m. Students can vote at votesga.utk.edu.