Just three days into their campaign, diversity, shared values, transparency and improved academic programming have become just a handful of the missions shared by the ticket of Allison MacPhee and Kelsey Crowley, candidates for student body president and vice president, respectively, in the run-up to March’s heated Senate elections.
MacPhee, a sophomore information systems and business analytics major from the Peter T. Paul School of Business and Economics and the Student Senate’s current senior financial advisor, told The New Hampshire that part of her motivation for running this year stems from the contrast between her high school community and the UNH student body, especially in terms of representation.
“There were a lot of things that I noticed when I first came to this university that were different from my high school, and one of the things was that there was a lot less inclusion of the student body as a whole,” she said, “and that is something we really want to work on and centering our platform based off of everyone’s ideas rather than our own.”
MacPhee stressed that increased student diversity and active involvement in student policy can potentially strengthen a president’s ability to obtain a clearer and wider perspective of the issues that matter to their constituents, which range from lowering student fees for academic programming to improving financial transparency when it comes to university funding.
“A lot of times in leadership, perspectives can be coming from one type of person, whether that be someone in Student Senate who has been there for a long time, and with this campaign we really want to be reaching out to every student and making sure that everybody has their voice heard because we have so many different perspectives that need to be taken into consideration in order to be representing everybody fully,” she said.
Meanwhile, Crowley, a sophomore political science major from the College of Liberal Arts and non-resident student senator, discussed that student unity, a desired end product of effective inclusion and diversity of active voices, is a key component of their campaign, adding that when she found out about the election and the chance to serve as vice president alongside her friend and running mate, she resolved to win a position that could both strengthen the bond between them and become more actively involved in student policy, calling their campaign “the best way” to obtain just that.
“A big thing of our platform is [the theme of] together,” she said, stressing that it is “our campaign, it’s one ticket…it’s one student body and we just want those to be together, like, that’s really the big main point.”
In their efforts to drive home their commitment to inclusion and unity, the ticket strives to meet not only with student organizations and larger groups, but also with individuals as to connect with their voting population on a more personal level. MacPhee said one such encounter helped her better understand the plights and needs of students with disabilities.
“I was talking with a student earlier today, we were having dinner together, and she’s had a few leg surgeries since she’s been here [at UNH], and she was talking about how she lived in the Upper Quad and she couldn’t even leave her dorm without having to go through, like, five different hallways, take all these different elevators; it was just so inconvenient for her to do anything,” she recalled. “And she was slipping on ice when she’s going up the…ramp, and it’s really not fair for people. And if we’re having things run like that, it’s really hard to be maintaining good relationships with people who aren’t just automatically going to have a perfect experience here, and we really want to be doing things that not only recruit students of all different kinds of identities, backgrounds, sexualities…we just want everyone to be together and everyone to feel comfortable here…”
Diversity of experience plays a significant role in MacPhee and Crowley’s campaign, as each side brings a different set of experiences to the table. For instance, Crowley’s earlier life in Massachusetts and personal friendships from the state give the campaign more opportunities to connect with the interests of out-of-state students, while MacPhee’s involvement in the Kappa Delta sorority provides connections to supporters of their ticket from Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Despite their differences, however, the two met under the same circumstances and quickly established a common bond over policy and striving for change.
“So, [on] the first day of orientation, I sat next to Allie, and she’s just, like, one of the sweetest girls I’ve ever met,” Crowley said. “We’re in the same stats class, and we talked about how we both…have a lot of the same values and we just became friends through Senate and…our friendship has blossomed since.”
“I think that I’m, like, very systematic and operational,” MacPhee added in discussing their qualities as candidates. “I really like finance – I’m into that – and Kelsey’s really good understanding the whole picture…we know a lot of different people from being in different friend groups, so we have different perspectives.”
Regardless of who ultimately declares victory in the upcoming election, both MacPhee and Crowley stress that the chance to run represents only part of their commitment to an organization and campus they feel passionate about.
“Even if we don’t win, I think meeting with everyone has just been so great,” Crowley said, “and getting new perspectives and learning about different people and meeting new, different people; I think that’s definitely the best part about this, by far.”
“I love the culture that it has, how everybody is just really welcoming, and we do always try to do what’s best for our constituents,” MacPhee said, “That’s something that’s always brought up at meetings; it’s like, ‘you’re not representing yourself right now, you’re representing your students.’”