Campus Celebrity: Tim Longest

You probably remember Tim Longest from last year’s Student Body President election, when glitches with the Student Life online voting platform made students question the legitimacy of the election’s results, in which Tim missed the runoff by four votes.

Despite his presidential loss, however, Tim has remained incredibly active on campus during his senior year. This semester, he’s taken on a different presidential title at the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies, and that’s just one of many organizations in which he’s involved. A former member of the Men at Carolina living-learning community, Longest is currently working with SAFER Carolina, which raises awareness about sexual violence on campus.

Her Campus UNC staff writer Meghan DeMaria asked Tim about his involvement on campus and plans for the future.

Her Campus: What activities are you involved with outside of class?

Tim Longest: I am the president of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies (Di-Phi), UNC's oldest student organization and only debate society. I am currently an organizer for the SAFER Carolina campaign dedicated to raising awareness about gender-based violence at Carolina, holding administrators accountable by calling for honesty and transparency and reforming how the University handles cases of gender-based violence.

I also write a column for the Daily Tar Heel and attend the Presbyterian Campus Ministry. I have previously worked in student government and on the Editorial Board of the DTH.

HC: What is the most important thing you learned from your SBP campaign?

TL: I've worked on quite a few political campaigns in my time. Running for Student Body President was the first time I did so as a candidate. I learned a lot from that experience. I realized how long, challenging and frustrating the fight for your ideals can be. But, more importantly, I learned how important never giving up on that fight is, and how we should always be hopeful in our pursuit of a vision of a more just and perfect world, even down to the microcosm of this University.

HC: Why did you decide to run for Di-Phi president this semester? Was it something you had planned for a while?

TL: The Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies are an incredible and formative part of my Carolina experience. Through them, I have improved my public speaking skills, engaged in debate and enhanced my thinking on many topics, learned a lot about University history and, most importantly, met a diverse, fantastic and interesting group of people who have helped me grow in many ways.

I decided to run for Di-Phi president because I felt that I had an opportunity to help this organization grow just as it has helped me grow during my time here. Moreover, I believe that I can help the greater campus community through Di-Phi by promoting public discourse on those issues that most deeply affect the Carolina community. Coming into Di-Phi I was open to seeking the presidency, but I did not decide to until I felt that I could devote my time sufficiently to it.

HC: Why did you decide to become an organizer with SAFER Carolina? What originally piqued your interest in local justice issues?

TL: We began organizing SAFER Carolina--Survivors and Allies for Empowerment and Reform--last August, when I learned how a friend had been seriously and systematically mistreated by administrators in a sexual assault case at UNC. Since then, I have met many more survivors with similar stories.

We decided to start SAFER Carolina because no one deserves to be re-victimized by the University that purports to protect them.  Our University systematically deprives survivors of their rights and silences them. We owe it to them, and to all members of the University community, to see that a more just, fair, safe and affirming campus environment is established.

I became dedicated to social and economic justice from growing up in Eastern North Carolina, seeing the poverty of resources and opportunity that still plagues the rural South. The southern experience is very much part of my identity, and I realized from an early age that changing those circumstances was how I wanted to dedicate my life.

HC: What are your plans for after graduation?

TL: After graduation, I plan on working in a nonprofit in the Triangle before going to graduate school.

Tim currently writes a DTH column on replacing negative perceptions of masculinity with more positive and feminist ideas. His column is published every other Wednesday.

Sources: Photos courtesy of Tim Longest. Banjo photo by Mary-Alice Warren.