By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer
Sierra Vista, Ariz., junior Gracie Kelliher is the only student body president candidate for the upcoming election which will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 8 and 9. Kelliher is the current student body external vice president (EVP) and has been involved in Student Government since her freshman year.
Kelliher also served as a senator for two years — first working on the campus improvements and affairs committee, then on operations and procedures and diversity and inclusion committees.
In the past year serving as EVP, Kelliher said she prioritized connection and relationship in the absence of in-person events.
“It actually has turned out to be the biggest thing that I just never expected because things changed so much with everything being virtual,” Kelliher said. “But I think that really emphasized the importance of connection and relationships with people because when you can’t have events, that’s really all you get to carry through from year to year.”
Her campaign for the presidency is based on four pillars: consistency, accountability, accessibility and advocacy.
Kelliher said she is dedicated to staying consistent with the Baylor experience as normalcy is restored throughout the next year. For her, that means bringing back a lot of those plans that weren’t able to be carried through this year instead of starting over planning from scratch.
To respect others’ hard work in the past, she said she wants to build a stable foundation from it rather than stepping all over it.
“A new student body president doesn’t need a new Student Government,” she said. “I’m part of the organization. The organization is not part of me.”
More specifically, Kelliher said she plans to continue with having two mental health weeks and further establish the diversity coalition as an adjunct committee in Student Government. Current student body president Sutton Houser said he accomplished both initiatives in his term.
“The diverse coalition started this fall, and that coalition was made up of 12 students from diverse backgrounds on campus. They have really helped me and spoken into a lot of different conversations,” Houser said. “They spoke into the construction conversation and now as this coalition moves forward, I’m working with many members of the diverse coalition to solidify its presence within Student Government.”
Along with the coalition and a few senators, Houser said they have learned a lot about what works well and what doesn’t. They are tailoring the coalition to be even more productive for the next administration.
“The next student body president can have a greater outreach on our campus because it has students who are intently looking for ways to connect more places on campus, looking for ways to bring more diverse perspectives and voices into conversations,” Houser said.
As for Kelliher’s three additional pillars, she said she broke them up for clarity.
“I really just want to position Student Government as the ultimate resource for students, as well as make sure that certain campus resources are accessible,” Kelliher said. “There are a number of issues on campus that aren’t accessible for every student on campus. That’s something that is not going to go away with one presidential term but for sure something we can work towards fighting.”
A couple of these issues include addressing the nighttime shuttle that was taken away. Kelliher said she wants to re-establish the service for the safety and security of students. She said she often used the service to take her back to her dorm from the library late at night.
Additionally, she said parking services has agreed to raffle off a faculty parking spot to students and the funds raised will be donated to a scholarship fund with the Baylor Counseling Center.
As for accountability, she said she wants to reset expectations for every Student Government role and fill some of those roles that have been underutilized.
“Accountability means making sure that each of those positions are serving students to their fullest capacity,” Kelliher said. “And that means repurposing some of the executive branch to better serve the student body and reorganizing exactly how each of those positions reach their full potential.”
In her own role, Kelliher said she wants to meet those expectations by actively advocating for students as part of her campaign’s third pillar.
“I definitely want to be the kind of person that people know, ‘If I’m having an issue I can go to Gracie and I can talk to her about it. She will bring it up with people that can make decisions beyond student influence,’” Kelliher said.
Student Government transitions take time. Once Kelliher is elected to the position, Houser will work with her over the last couple weeks of the spring semester to make plans for the fall.
Candidates for all positions will be campaigning through next Wednesday with billboards on campus and through Instagram. Voting will take place on the Student Government website.