Written by Avery Morgan of Jack Avery Blaine
When Jack Larimer, Blaine Ziegler, and I first sat down together and decided to form a team to run for SGA Office, we had one key element in common: we love the University of Tennessee and want to spend our senior years fully committed to helping it continue on its mission of improvement. Apart from that, we’re actually really different people with extremely different leadership characteristics. I am a number-crunching finance major who loves working on career development panels, promoting social mobility, and I occasionally jump out of planes for fun. Jack? He’s the most good-hearted man you’ll ever meet, is constantly working at community schools and can name every US President backwards and forwards. Blaine? I think he might actually be involved in every club and organization on campus—from Vols to Vols, UT Singers, Kappa Alpha Fraternity, and that one time he played Tarzan in a school play? He’s everywhere. Yet when we got in a room and started discussing issues that we’ve seen on campus, things that we love about Rocky Top, and things that we would love to see improved, this is going to sound cliché, but magic happened. Our different perspectives and involvement helped us craft policy points and pillars that will reach all of campus, and combined, our leadership styles aided us in developing plans to ensure that we can implement them. on campus.
Our campaign is centered around three main pillars: promoting student safety, support, and success. Regarding safety, we are advocating for free water in Neyland Stadium as part of upcoming renovations. Water bottles in Neyland average around $4 a bottle, and too often, our students end up in the Health Center for dehydration following games because they didn’t have money at the game or couldn’t afford to buy water. Other SEC schools offer free water in their stadiums already, and it’s time for UT to follow suit! Additionally, from an environmental perspective, we’re excited to see UT go green and allow students to potentially bring in empty, refillable water bottles when entering the stadium on game days!
By the People, For the People
Regarding student support, our senators are already advocating for a Medical Withdrawal (MW) should students have to temporarily leave the university for health-related issues. This would help our students explain their withdrawal to potential employers and graduate schools. Additionally, we are advocating for a streamlined process when students that took a MW are ready to return to the University. Currently, students have to completely re-apply, which adds stress to an already difficult situation.
An issue I am extremely passionate about is sexual assault awareness on campus. Our campaign is advocating for unlimited on-campus counseling resources for survivors of sexual assault. Unfortunately, statistics for 2017-2018 show that just over 20% of undergraduate females will experience sexual assault throughout their time in college. While we will constantly work to be proactive in changing this culture, we also recognize that it is important to provide survivors with the support that they deserve. Free, unlimited on-campus counseling resources for survivors is a step in the right direction.
Regarding academic success, we recognize that financial hardship often prevents students from reaching their true potential as a Volunteer. UT currently has a clicker loan program for eligible students; however, it only has between 20 and 30 clickers. We want to expand that program through a donation drive with graduating seniors, creating a clicker loan program that should be completely sustainable within two to three years.
Home Sweet Home to Me
These are a few of our policy points, but I hope that they demonstrate our mission and goals to you. As a Volunteer, this is your chance to make Rocky Top a better place. We all fell in love with this university for different reasons, but our drive to see it and its students succeed is the same. When I look at our campaign, I see intelligence. I see heart. I see motivation, drive, hard-work, and a group of people that will take whatever this year may throw at them and make sure they leave UT a better place than when they joined it. We made our motto “committed to you” because that’s what we are and that’s our reason for running for office. I hope that after reading this, you see that too and vote Jack Avery Blaine to help us achieve these goals.