* This is not an endorsement from Her Campus George Mason**
Over spring break I had the opportunity to interview Camden Layton and Adia McLaughlin, two students who are running for Student Body President and Vice President for Student Government at George Mason University.
I was able to ask them a few questions about why they’re running, what their platform is, and why should students care about voting. Here’s the interview:
Salma (S): Hey guys, thank you for taking your time for this interview! I know that you guys are busy so let me get to it. Why are you guys running?
Adia (A): We’re running because we want to help Mason grow. I feel that Camden and I are in a position where we see the potential Mason has and we want to make it better.
Camden (C): W see that Mason can be better and we have ideas to do that. We think we can help Mason grow into the best it can be. We want to see the student representation at Mason with the administration grow.
S: What is your platform?
A: Transparency is a big thing for us. We want students to know what’s going on. Especially with stuff going on campus like construction, we want students to be able to easily access that information so they stay informed and so students can know when thing are going to finished, having an update, what are the new modification that will be happening.
C: Working with Mason PD is also something I want to see us tackle. Especially with the recent news at Mason, we want to be able to make Mason feel safer. Like Adia said, creating transparency is also a huge part of it — being able to bring the concerns of Mason students and bring them to the people in charge to see if we can find a solution.
Via Erik Truong
S: Why do you think that you can benefit the Mason community?
A: It comes from us being new to Student Government and the diversity of what we do while being involved in so much on campus. We’re able to have or make those connections with different RSOs and departments. We’re able to go up to them, not only as their representative, but as their friends and say “what’s the issue?” and we’re able to say, “Okay, here’s how we’re gonna fix it.” We’re a good resource to get more of the student body involved with specific things regarding not only with Student Government, but with life at Mason.
C: Adding on to connections, the things that are going to change within the next year or two is Mason’s relationship with Fairfax City Council, as well as with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. By having connections with those people on the board, we will be able to continue to do the work we did with zoning changes to ensure affordable housing for students. We want to continue to see progress and not just ideas.
S: What are you involved in at Mason?
A: Oh boy. I am in Greek Life as a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi. I am in Alpha Lambda Delta and the Greek Life Honors fraternity. I am a part of the honors college. I am on the executive council of NAACP. I am Secretary of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs for Student Government. I am in NCLS, a leadership council at Mason. I am the treasurer of Order of Omega. I am a student coordinator for the office of New Student and Family Programs. And finally, I competed on the forensics team.
C: Currently, I am the Vice President of George Mason Democrats, a Mason Ambassador, and I have work in the admissions office as a student telecounselor. I am the Treasurer of Chi Psi and have been involved in Generation Action, an organization advocating for women’s rights and sexual health. I am also a part of Alpha Lambda Delta, and finally, I am the undersecretary of Student Civic Engagement.
Via Erik Truong
S: How do you think you represent the Mason community?
A: I came to Mason for the diversity. Coming from a town that is 96% white, I was the only black girl in my classroom and sometimes the only black person, so I know what it’s like to be the minority. So, to come to a place where diversity is celebrated is really important to me and when getting involved, I personally try to reach out to those who may feel alienated. I feel that I am able to relate to the Mason community by having those experience of being the only person in the room, to then coming to Mason and having to adjust from being the only person in the room to being 1 of 20. With those experiences, I am to relate to the Mason community pretty well
C: Even though I am not the most diverse person to represent the Mason community, I have taken a very active role in the past fighting for diversity and minority communities. For example, when the current US Presidential administration changed their policy of birth control for universities, I went to talk to University Life Vice President Rose Pascarell with Generation Action to make sure that birth control will be included in a new insurance plan, no matter what the federal government said.
S: What are some issues that you see at Mason that you want to try to fix?
A: Bridging the gap between a lot of the services Mason offers and campus life. Within the diversity department, we’ve done a lot of work to bridge the gap between GMU police and the student body. We want to start hosting open forums to create a dialogue where students can address their direct concerns with the people that they need to address it with. You can air out your concerns to us and we can take you directly to the person that you need to talk to.
C: I want to push Title IX Reform on campus. I want to continue the work that Bekah and Erik are doing with creating a Title IX Undersecretary that will work closely with the office and administration. I want to also work the university administration to see what we can do when it comes to funding to see if we can have more people in that office so more things can get done so that students have a better experience going to that office and feel as if they are being heard, which I have heard many complaints about.
S: What made you interested in student government?
A: I did student government in high school so I’ve always had a big interest in the politics of schools and how to get involved. Bekah was my biggest push to get into Mason Student government. She is one of my closest friends and I worked on her campaign. I saw that this is something I may be interested in.
C: Erik really pushed me in applying for a position within Government and Community Relations, which is the Department I am in now. Getting my foot in the door to find out what I was passionate about really helped me open my eyes to see all that Student Government does for Mason, as well as seeing what Mason could potentially do. It has been such an interesting experience for me and I am super excited to continue the work!
S: Describe student government in your own words?
A: On a personal level, it’s a look into a smaller world into what we can do to affect politics. It shows the breakdown of what the federal government looks like — with executive cabinet, senate, committees, etc. These things spark into something bigger; it starts small and, who knows, after these four years it could lead to something way bigger.
C: I agree with what Adia said, but I also want to focus a lot on the representation aspect of student government because I see it as the entity that represents students to the administration. I want to change the organization to solely planning events to adding a much large representation portion, which is something that has been gradually improving in the past year and I’d love to continue that.
S: What is your favorite thing about Mason and student government?
A: The people. Definitely the people and the connections I’ve made. I would have never met Camden if it wasn’t for student government. You’re finding people to network with and to make friends with.
C: The people! I met some of my best friends from getting involved in Student Government. Meeting people who are interested in shaping George Mason University for the better, like myself, is such a good feeling.
S: Do you think you can make change and what will make you different than past administrations?
A: I definitely think we can be the catalyst for change. I don’t think we would be running if we didn’t believe in ourselves. If you combine my experience with Camden’s experience, I think it makes a good team that will actually follow through. It won’t just be an idea, but an initiative that gets written and will be followed through. We want to see the change happen before us.
C: The difference between our campaign and past campaigns is the commitment to making true progress with purpose, rather than just having ideas. These big ideas that many previous administrations had normally did not have actual solutions, but Adia and I have been trying to make things happen by asking ourselves, “This is what we want to do. How do we get it done?”. In our campaign, we want to make sure we have those solutions before we start doing anything. Saying you’re going to make change without any actual end goal or steps end up with no change happening. We want to be able to create those steps for the betterment of Mason.
S: Thank you guys so much for letting me interview you. Before I let you go, I have one last question, for fun. Where is the best place to eat on campus?
A: Manhattan and this is why. Their cheese sticks are about an inch in diameter. And their marinara sauce tastes like it specifically made for Manhattan, it’s the perfect consistency. And that right there is the best combo.
C: Yes! Manhattan is the best because they have the best mozzarella sticks and that’s that on that.
Via Erik Truong
** This is not an endorsement from Her Campus George Mason**