Before starting, I would just like to acknowledge a few things. I am a proud member of Greek life, and I have repeatedly advocated for increased fraternity and sorority involvement in Student Government. For most of this year, I was one of only two IFC members in the Senate. Poole College of Management, where I study business administration, is filled with members of Greek life, and by being a member of Greek life, a majority of my social circle is in a fraternity or sorority as well. So for my countless friends and peers in Greek life, please hear me out, as this is an issue larger than us.
Before campaigning started for the Spring Election, I was approached by two sorority members who told me they had attended a meeting where a candidate proposed the creation of a Greek life ticket for the student body election. This group, known as “YourState 2020,” is made up of 28 members running for all but three Senate races on the ballot. They have no apparent platform and no public mention of its ties to Greek life. It has been shared online by many members of Greek life and is, in essence, a political party.
This is frightening for a few reasons. Senate elections are often decided by less than 5 votes, meaning even a small group that campaigns together would have a massive effect, and this is far from a small group. There are more members of Greek life at NC State than there are people who even voted in the election last year.
Only three members of YourState 2020 have ever served in Student Government, one of whom was only appointed two weeks ago, and another was removed from office by a near-unanimous vote this year for having almost as many absences as there had been meetings. Student Government requires experienced members to carry out essential tasks, including allocating hundreds of thousands of dollars to student organizations every year. Efforts have been made in the past to politicize Student Government elections, and these have created nothing but chaos. They are not operating with the best interests of the Student Body in mind, only those of members of social Greek life.
This group has been promoted by and in turn supported student body president and vice president candidates Carlie Higgins and Powell Braddock, a fact which is not disclosed in any campaign materials. For a ticket that runs on the slogan “students not politics,” the idea that the first thing they did was promote a political party is irony in its greatest sense. Perhaps worse than anything else, they would be in charge of appointing officials to Student Government, including a student chief justice, the future Board of Elections chair, student representatives for university standing committees, and leaders and members of countless executive departments. With no publicly published platform anywhere online at the time of writing, they simply seem to be running as representatives of Greek life. Because of this, I worry that they will not be able to represent students outside of those in Greek life and will affect Student Government for years to come. In addition, neither Carlie Higgins nor Powell Braddock currently have chosen to attend the Student Government Election Debate on Friday, which would provide the opportunities for all of these issues to be discussed.
Shortly after discovering this, both the YourState 2020 and the official Higgins/Braddock social media accounts began blocking members of the student body, including myself, who have publicly supported candidates outside of their party, before finally going private. This is extremely unethical and unprofessional, as these candidates are running in a race to represent the entire student body, including those who may have not supported them in the election.
My first thought when I heard about this was that it was modeled almost exactly like “The Machine,” a cult at the University of Alabama made up of Greek life leaders which for over 100 years has used terrorism and hate crimes to scare anyone who is not a member, especially students of color and members of the LGBT community, and keep them from running for election. I would like to believe that something of this level would not happen at NC State, but Greek life control of Student Government is almost guaranteed if we as a student body do not oppose this in some way.
Each year, only a small portion of our student body will vote in the Spring Election and fewer will know much about candidates beyond what is on the signs around campus. Stories like this are impossible to share on a yard sign, but when they will affect every member of our student body for the next year, and likely far longer, they are worth sharing. I would encourage every member of our student body to watch the debate, read candidates’ platforms, and talk to candidates to learn about the people who will represent you if they win.
**Thomas Walsh is a second-year studying business administration in the Poole College of Management. He currently serves as a senator and the press secretary of Student Government, as well as a staff member on the Brohaugh-Foote campaign. The views he expresses in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of his campaign or Student Government.