Shannon Kay and Shaq Thomas are running for Clemson undergraduate student body president and vice presidentAfter a historically close presidential race, Shannon Kay and Shaq Thomas are Clemson’s newest undergraduate student leaders. We sat down with Shannon and Shaq to learn more about this dynamic duo and their plans for the upcoming year. Let’s start with the basics.

Shannon Kay, CUSG president
Class: Senior
Major: Industrial Engineering

Shaq Thomas, CUSG vice president
Class: Junior
Major: Accounting and Finance

Q: Which Clemson traditions are you most excited about this year?

Shannon: I always enjoy the ring ceremony every year. The guarding of the rings, the parade and the ceremony represent a unique Clemson tradition that brings together students and alumni. Not to mention Col. Ben Skardon’s incredible story of sacrifice with Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan!

Shaq: Every year since I have been a student at Clemson, I have enjoyed going to Legacy Day. I believe it is imperative that we know how special Clemson University is and how special our founders were compared to those of other institutions. Legacy Day does just that. It shows us how unique Thomas Green Clemson’s will is in that it never stipulates gender, race or religion as criteria for enrollment. Better yet, it makes students now think about the legacy that they are leaving for the future Tigers here at Clemson.

Q: It’s clear that student feedback is a driving force behind your actions. In addition to the new athletic ticketing system, which was implemented in response to student surveys, where else on campus do students want to see change?

Shaq: We are very excited to utilize the new ticketing policy for this year! In addition to the policy, students have expressed desire for change regarding campus recreation, academic facilities, advising and health services among others. We are excited for the expansion of campus recreation through satellite campuses in Douthit Hills and at the Snow family intramural fields by “Y-Beach.” Additionally, the 2020Forward plan identifies advising and academic facilities as areas of change as well. Clemson is identifying and making changes daily, and we want student government to contribute to the dynamism as well.

Q: The Board of Trustees recently unveiled new policies for Clemson Greek Life that aim to eliminate hazing, alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct. As active members of Clemson fraternities and sororities, you each have unique perspectives on this initiative. How do you think these new policies will affect both Greek and non-Greek students?

Shannon: The overall intention of these policies is to promote and to ensure the safety of students both Greek and non-Greek. Some of the new policies are significant changes from previous policies, but the key thing for us to keep in mind is that we all want the same thing: To keep everyone safe while preserving the integrity of Greek Life.

Shaq: As times progress, things have to change whether we agree or disagree with that change. However, being able to save a fellow Clemson student from any form of danger is of utmost importance to me.

Q: A lot is changing at Clemson, from graduation ceremonies temporarily moving to Greenville to widespread construction on campus. What is your plan to help students face these sometimes unpopular, but undoubtedly necessary, growing pains?

Shannon: Clemson truly is experiencing a dynamic time of exciting facility renovations! Unfortunately, as you mentioned, a lot of these renovations and additions require some changes to the ways we have always done things. In regard to graduation in Greenville, for the August graduation, we worked with Student Affairs and the Clemson Alumni Association to hold an event where students had professional photos taken — for free — at iconic sites around campus and attended a drop-in session at the Alumni Center to ask questions and socialize. The event was a huge success, and we plan to improve it even more for the rest of the graduation ceremonies in Greenville.

Q: Shaq, given your passion for Clemson’s military heritage, what steps are you hoping to take to recognize our military presence on campus?

Shaq: We have implemented the role of a Military Heritage Director in student government this year. This position allows us to have someone dedicated to making sure that all of our military organizations, veterans and programs do not go unnoticed. Through the help of our public relations committee, we will make sure that military heritage has a profound presence on campus. Military Appreciation Day will be here before we know it, so be on the look-out for all of the great opportunities to learn and appreciate Clemson’s military background!

Q: In addition to unifying the Clemson student body, one of your leadership goals is to improve the University for future generations of Tigers. What will you do to make Clemson’s campus greener, healthier and safer?

Shannon: We have several sustainability, healthy eating and safety-promoting initiatives being explored and implemented already. Earlier in the summer, we spoke with the police department about supporting a campus safety app for our smart phones, and we are in the process of exploring all the various options. We have also met with Housing & Dining to determine the best way to encourage healthy restaurants to open off-campus, and as a result, we are working on creating a survey for students to convey their desire for certain restaurants to come to the area. By providing tangible and persuasive numbers, we hope restaurants will have more of an incentive to open here. On the sustainability front, our Sustainability Director Erin Hughes has been working diligently on restructuring the Solid Green student club, planning Sustainability Week and attending various meetings on how to make our University even more sustainable.

Q: CUSG plays an integral role in shaping the Clemson experience by offering unique opportunities for students to come together. Last year’s “fALL IN for Clemson” food truck tailgate was a success. What exciting undergraduate activities can we look forward to this year?

Shaq: Last year, fALL IN for Clemson was a huge success, and there were people who enjoyed it a lot. We are looking forward to putting that event on again this year and continue to build upon its success. Another event will follow in the spring that will be more upscale. However, we are also looking to assist many other organizations that may have activities for undergraduates. It is a goal of ours to use our team to assist organizations here at Clemson in promoting, branding and executing their events.

Q: How can students get involved in bringing issues to your attention and your ideas to action?

Shannon: Currently, we are utilizing Maddy and Lee’s Ideas to Action platform which can be found of the student government website Students can submit a unique idea or suggestion via an online form. However, throughout first semester, we are creating a Facebook page and other mediums through which students can submit areas for improvement, areas of success and new ideas for campus. We will then assign the concern to a student government member who will follow up with progress on the suggestion.