The Answer is Yes: The question that's been dodged for a century

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The Answer is Yes: The question that's been dodged for a century

CW / Kylie Cowden

Jared Hunter

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I want to start my story by telling you how important honesty is to me. If there is one thing I can leave you with, it is that I want you to know the truth about me – that I want to serve all students – and that you deserve to know the full truth about this SGA election.

I consider myself blessed, not just for the fact that I attend one of the greatest schools in the country, but also because of the incredible people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had as a student. This past year I’ve been lucky to become a leader in two amazing organizations. In the Student Government Association, I have collaborated with organizations and clubs across campus to plan events and programming as the director of Engagement on the Executive Cabinet. In the Blackburn Institute, I have debated, traveled and ultimately grown with and learned from other students who had very different opinions and backgrounds.

Becoming the director of Engagement was an incredibly eye-opening and rewarding experience. I fell in love with the position and the opportunities it afforded me to meet others. But, I longed for more ways to help students. I had so many ideas, and I realized there was only one way to put them all into action: I would run for SGA president.

It wasn’t until early January that I approached some of my close friends about running for office. Word got around quickly that I was working on plans for a presidential campaign. One day, a friend and fraternity brother approached me. I was told my name had been nominated and considered in a Theta Nu Epsilon elections meeting (better known as “The Machine”).

The Machine wanted to support my run for SGA president.

I was wary, to say the least: I never thought I’d find myself in this position. I loved SGA because I wanted to help students. I wanted to tell students about my ideas for fair student housing and a better GameDay experience; not play politics. I also knew that Lillian Roth, a close friend of mine at the time and the current SGA president, was actively pursuing a second election campaign with the backing of the Machine.

Running for office with the support of a group with such a checkered past was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. The Machine’s stigma casts a shadow on the history of this university to this day. I wrestled with the dilemma – and eventually realized I had an incredible opportunity. I knew my campaign and my ideas were my own. No matter who chose to support me, I would run on my own terms. The perception of any one group on campus should not and will not define who I am as a person.

Being honest is not always easy – I know thousands of people will criticize me for accepting the support of a group that only represents around thirty percent of the student body and has a difficult past, to put it lightly.

The fact is, I am seeking the support of every student and organization at UA. Not only does the Greek community not fully define our campus, it does not fully define myself as an individual. I was not a part of the Greek system my freshman year, even though I rushed multiple organizations – and I carry the experiences from that year with me today. My story is unique, just like every other one of the 37,665 students on this campus. I feel connected to the stories of all students and that is something worth celebrating. At the end of the day, the Machine’s support is meaningless if I do not have yours.

Together we have an incredible opportunity to make Alabama a home for all of its students. My campaign’s platform contains initiatives to enhance student life. We will work with the Tuscaloosa city government and realty companies to make off campus` housing more fair for all students. We will continue the Student Government Association’s commitment to fighting sexual assault through cultural change and the use of new mobile safety options, making the University a safer place to live and study. We will enhance the Gameday experience by advocating for better transportation and free stadium cup refills. But most of all, we can finally make the Capstone a place of honesty and integrity, breaking down one barrier at a time.

I care about the student body and want nothing more than to make life better for all students. My ideas are my own, my campaign team is my own, and most importantly, my vision for UA is my own – no matter who chooses to support me. Honesty is at the core of who I am and what I want my campaign to be about. You should choose the leader you feel has the character and integrity to be your president.

I ask for you to choose me as your president on March 7.

Jared Hunter is a junior majoring in political science. He is running for president of the Student Government Association.