Candidates for student government, Maddy and LeeFor Clemson, the beginning of the fall semester brings changes to every part of campus: A new provost, new buildings and new initiatives in the works by our new president. And those involved in the thick of it are Maddy and Lee, our undergraduate president and vice president. As they begin their year with one focus — speaking for the students and making sure students’ needs are met — we wanted to hear what’s on their minds and what they have planned for the coming year.

Q: Kayley was the first female student body president in many years. To have another one right on her heels is surprising yet encouraging. How does this affect your perspective on campus culture and the potential for new initiatives?

Maddy: Kayley was the fifth female Clemson student body president, and this year was particularly exciting because the presidential candidates on both tickets were women! In all honesty, being a woman has never really affected my CUSG or Clemson experience, which I think is indicative of the Clemson culture. I’ve personally never felt like I had to try harder or overcome any injustices as a woman in student government. I believe that this is a result of the hard work of my five female predecessors who paved the road before me.

Q: Since the announcement in April of removing the E-Portfolio requirement, what’s next for you as you advocate for students during your term?

Maddy: The newly created Agriculture Director in our cabinet will address improving University focus on agriculture. Lee is currently planning a festival for students to enjoy food trucks in the fall. His efforts also include working with CCIT to find more convenient alternatives to the CUID card that allows access into buildings such as Fike and dining halls. One of my most passionate initiatives is increasing student participation in state and federal politics. Because Clemson is a public school, we are subject to state restrictions. By increasing student participation in civic engagement, our legislators are held more accountable to students as their constituents, which in turn helps projects like Core Campus and Douthit Hills get passed through the state legislature. It’s a team effort, so be sure to follow CUSG on Facebook and Twitter to remain up to date on all student government initiatives throughout the year!

Q: You work closely with the senate. What are some concerns you’ve heard that weren’t necessarily part of your platform but would like to pursue in the coming year?

Lee: Although Maddy and I are attempting to accomplish a lot with our platform, there are other things that we will be working on to better represent students at Clemson. One of the largest things I see coming before senate this term is student fees. A lot of what is provided by Clemson is paid for by fees added to our tuition. Although some fees are needed, there comes a point when faculty and staff must realize that students are only able to pay so much and that some programs may not be as beneficial as hoped. I’ll be working very closely with the senate president as well as Maddy to ensure that student voices are heard and that our rights as students are preserved.

Q: Since you emphasized improving academic advising on your platform, what are some of the elements that go into excellent advising that complement the 2020 plan to raise Clemson’s intellectual atmosphere?

Maddy: The quality of academic advising varies across departments. Generally, advising serves two purposes. The first of these is guiding students on curriculum and major course planning. The second prepares us for the post-undergraduate world, whether in the workforce or furthering our education. Students deserve advisers who devote the time and energy to each of their students so that these needs are fulfilled. However, there is no easy, uniform advising model to solve every department’s advising problems. This year, CUSG is conducting analyses on the quality of every department’s advising methods to see what does and doesn’t work. Then we will determine exactly what students want from their advisers. After that, we plan to initiate discussions among administration, faculty, staff and students to potentially form a hybrid advising model that will best serve students.

Q: The Clemson student body has a diversity of needs. As someone who has a background in Greek Life, how do you see your position as a way to bridge gaps and share resources, for example between the 20 percent Greek Life and the other 80 percent?

Lee: If there is one thing that I have learned, it is that the entire student body has a multitude of needs. Being a member of Greek life has shown me that at times, not every group’s needs are met. Being vice president has shown me that there are ways that we can work with every student and help them achieve their goals. I have a unique position because I also serve on the Interfraternity Council Executive Committee and am able to work with both student groups, often sharing information. My goal is to support every member of the Clemson Family.

Q: With the recent #CUNeeds social media campaign, CUSG seeks to put students’ desires first. How do you see projects like Douthit Hills putting Clemson’s needs, and ultimately the students’, first?

Lee: Our facilities, especially our residence halls, are well past their intended time of use. As of now, Clemson enrolls around 16,000 undergraduate students. Data at Clemson have shown that students who live on campus, and are thus able to access facilities immediately, have higher GPAs and are more involved than their peers who live off campus. Douthit Hills and Core Campus will provide housing to over 2,000 students and set these students up for sustained success as well as provide for Clemson’s future by ensuring an environment of opportunity.

Q: As Undergraduate Student Body president, you’ve been involved with the Provost search. Could you explain the importance to students of finding the right person for this position?

Maddy: It is important that we have the proper leadership in place to ensure that we do not lose the things that make us special — such as our unique culture and familial atmosphere — as we progress forward as a university. President Clements has a large, charismatic and visionary personality, and he has chosen his perfect complement to serve as provost. Dr. Robert Jones’s quiet, thoughtful and intentional leadership will serve him well as he executes the vision that President Clements and the rest of our Clemson Family have shaped for our University.

Q: How do you plan to balance Clemson’s desire to increase sustainability through programs like the buses and cycling lanes with the student desire for more parking and better parking services?

Lee: Clemson is undoubtedly growing. With this growth comes more students and need for more facilities. Something we must realize though is that we have a responsibility to ensure that Tigers for years to come can also come to Clemson. To do this, we have to engage in sustainable practices. This year, I’m working very closely with our director of sustainability on cabinet and his committee, as well as the senate transportation and facilities committee. Creating a balance between sustainability and desire for better parking will be difficult. But we can find a solution through student engagement and representation.