After its initial statement, Student Government (SG) passed an executive order codifying lists of immediate and long-term actions it plans to take in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, revoking the constitutional right to an abortion. Katie Krawcheck, a third-year studying political science and Arabic studies, gives her thoughts on this response.
The original response was released Tuesday, June 28. The statement included an acknowledgement of the Supreme Court decision and links to mental health resources on campus.
Krawcheck said SG’s initial statement didn’t provide the support students needed at the time of the overturning.
“I think Student Government has an obligation to support their students in a real, raw, authentic way,” Krawcheck said. “But all I saw in their statement was ambiguity. Yeah, they say it's non-partisan, but there's a sense of partisanship that's like begging to come out of their words… There is that sense of just shrugging shoulders like everybody's experiencing different emotions at different times, when in actuality, it's very obvious that there are certain emotions that we should be prioritizing.”
Executive Order No. 2 was passed Wednesday, Aug. 24. It includes a list of immediate responses to take place during SG’s 102nd session and a list of long-term responses to be carried out during the 102nd and future sessions. McKenzy Heavlin, first-year Master's student in electrical engineering, student body president and chief executive officer for Student Government, said the document will serve as a guide for SG as they move forward. The list of immediate responses includes campus engagement with elected officials, increased voter engagement and a student town hall.
“A lot of what we can do in immediate response is outlined in section one under ‘Immediate Response for the 102nd Session,’” Heavlin said. “It's a lot about engaging with elected officials, because unfortunately, I don't have the power to make a changing decision on this, but there are certain individuals that, because we go to a large institution, that we can interact with, and they will listen to students very closely.”
Heavlin said SG also aims to increase voter education and engagement.
“The election cycle coming up is really, really important,” Heavlin said. “It was so before this decision was released; it is so more now. And so, we just need students to be aware of everything that is on the line with this election, especially at the local level in North Carolina, and that their vote really does matter.”
Krawcheck said SG’s effort to increase voter education and engagement is really important, especially in the Triangle Area.
“One thing I learned when working with voter organizations and local campaigns across North Carolina, and the Triangle Area, in particular, it's pretty apathetic, generally speaking, when it comes to human rights issues,” Krawcheck said. “There's a massive gap between them like most people simply don't care. So, I think trying to, obviously, increase voter education engagement is super important.”
The third immediate response is having a town hall meeting on campus. Heavlin said SG intends to come up with a plan to ensure the meeting will run smoothly.
“It's important that we have these conversations and to be able to have a very robust dialogue about it, and it's not a back and forth screaming match,” Heavlin said. “That's why we're committed to hosting a town hall this fall… That's gonna be a lot of moving parts to make sure that it is a successful one and not a back and forth between groups.”
Krawcheck said she worries the town hall won’t address the people less likely to vote and engage with SG, and it may end up being unproductive.
“I feel a little bit worried about that,” Krawcheck said. “Only because, again, you don't address that apathy; you have people showing up that are really passionate one way or the other. And I feel like it might turn out like a debate because people that don't care, they're not going to show up.”
The last immediate response SG has listed on Executive Order No. 2 is working to offer campus childcare to students, not just faculty and staff.
“This was something that a previous session of student government worked with other local area colleges to provide access to after school care at a low cost to graduate students,” Heavlin said. “And we want to build off of that success and work with the current system that NC State has in place for faculty, staff and postgraduates that is currently not available to graduate students and undergraduate students and other NC State students who may not be in a degree program.”
Krawcheck said she’s glad SG is working to expand childcare on campus to students, but she wishes they had done it sooner.
“I think the childcare for campus is something that has needed to be done a while ago, and I'm glad it's finally happening,” Krawcheck said. “It just is a little frustrating that something drastic has to happen, like a Supreme Court case, in order for that to even be considered.”
Heavlin said voting in SG’s fall elections and local elections is important in carrying out these responses long-term and beyond campus, especially since SG goes through elections in the spring.
“The team that is currently in place right now is our scope of authority really until about March,” Heavlin said. “After March, someone else could come into these offices and do a complete 180 on all of this and revert all of it. And so it's really important, especially for long-term access to resources on campus, that individuals participate in our spring elections. That's when the student body president and vice president get elected and other high level leaders that have thoughts that go into these documents and really support documents through our constitution.”
Krawcheck said she understands SG has certain limitations as an organization within the University, but still thinks students should work together to support each other.
“I respect McKenzy [Heavlin], and Timothy [Reid] so much… and I feel as though Student Government is probably doing the very best that they can,” Krawcheck said. “I think that it is very frustrating because they do have these limitations. It's just important at this time, especially as women, people with female genitalia, to lean on each other, to support each other.”
Heavlin said the best way to hold SG accountable in regards to its response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and other matters is to engage with them by joining SG or participating in the events and meetings they host.
“I've had a lot of people on my own staff and in the departments who have texted me and been in open communication with us about how this decision has impacted their personal stances on it, and what they would like to see student government do… and that's the direction we go,” Heavlin said. “So, if you don't like that direction, you can join and be the alternative voice to that.”
Check out SG’s website to learn more and get involved.