Richard "Dick" Beekman and Gabrielle Hitchcock have announced their run for president and vice president of the UNC Charlotte student body for the 2021-2022 academic school year. Beekman is the current president pro tempore of the Student Senate, and Hitchcock currently serves as committee chair for the Internal Affairs Committee. Both have been heavily involved in the Student Government Association (SGA) and have held many different positions and passed an abundance of legislation. This includes acts against the University's 2020 fall reopening plans, advocating for a pass/no credit grading system for two consecutive semesters and they founded SGA's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.
"Running is important to both Gabi and I because it represents an opportunity to make beneficial change on behalf of all students at UNC Charlotte," said Beekman to the Niner Times.
"Throughout our time at Charlotte, we have seen just how important strong student leadership is and felt compelled to run to serve as advocates for all students. Representing the student body means ensuring the student voice is heard throughout the decision-making process and continue fighting to ensure policies are enacted that are respectful and beneficial to all the students who have put their trust in us," said Beekman.
Beekman-Hitchcock's platform, "Strike Gold," focuses on six topics, including COVID-19, communication, student affairs, academics, diversity, and community. The six main topics are dubbed the "nuggets" by the campaign.
Nugget one is COVID-19, a commitment to a safe in-person fall 2021 semester, an in-person commencement ceremony and student representation on reopening committees. The University has since announced plans for an in-person commencement ceremony and an in-person fall 2021 semester.
Nugget two focuses on communication through channels such as hosting regular town hall meetings and office hours. Nugget three is centered on student affairs and includes expanding dining hall options, increasing mental health resources, and better parking passes. Nugget four is grounded in improving academics, such as academic recognition, class availability and extending academic honors to summer sessions. Nugget five is diversity-based and has goals of creating safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities, creating new diverse student identity boards and regular engagement with campus diversity councils. Finally, nugget six emphasizes community and will consist of regular meetings with state and federal elected officials, increasing collaboration between all SGA branches, reaffirming University traditions, and investing in class councils' quality.
In a press release to the SGA, the Beekman-Hitchcock campaign said, "We believe we are the best candidates because of our extensive track record of putting students first. From serving on various committees, contesting the schools reopening contingency plans, fighting to preserve school breaks, establishing a Secretary of Health and Wellness, and advocating on behalf of Pass/No Credit, we have always been a voice for students. We are active not only in Student Government but in other areas of the University, which allows for us to connect with students who might otherwise feel they don't have a voice."
"Our extensive years of experience holding officer positions within SGA has allowed us to make the connections needed to make our platform vision a reality," added Beekman to the Niner Times.
Beekman-Hitchcock is running against Jeremiah Williams and Idalis Perez. The election will take place March 23-24 online at vote.uncc.edu. The results will be announced on the Student Government Instagram page at 12 p.m. on March 25, followed by an announcement on the Student Government website.