Leake plans for campus unification if elected

Q: Can you give me a quick rundown of your life story?

A: All right, so, like I said I'm currently a junior from Lexington, Illinois. I'm studying double major in management information systems and finance. You know, initially I wasn't sure why I wanted to go to college, but I wanted a place where it felt like home that was, you know, great as far as financial opportunities, for me and my family both, to afford to go out of state, and obviously, ultimately the programs that I wanted to study. So it's kind of those three main factors. Secondly, you know, I got to Alabama after visiting 26 other schools. I knew that it was definitely the right choice, and so over the past three years I've gotten the chance to make a lot of incredible friends, have had a lot of great experiences. I'm in SGA and in a bunch of different student organizations all across campus.

Q: Why do you want to run for this office?

A: I want to run for this office because, like I said, I came from out of state. There is only one other kid from my area that came down to school, but it immediately felt like home, and I immediately met a group of people that I really liked and I really felt like this campus was going to be it. And so, I was fortunate enough to come here on scholarship, be in great programs – Honors College, University Fellows Experience – so I had all of these resources, had all these opportunities, and I felt like I wanted to give something back. I wanted to look back after four years and feel like I had given something back to a college that had basically given me so much, and I think that SGA lends itself very well to that. I think when you have the opportunity to, you know, have a positive impact on campus, that's definitely a good, valuable use of my time and really gives me the feeling of doing something helpful for our campus in giving back.

Q: Sure. What makes you the best choice for this office?

A: I think I'm the best choice because, you know, like I said, I've had the opportunity to work in SGA for the past two years. I was in the Senate freshman year for College of Business, served this past year for vice president of financial affairs. Specifically, this last year being in the vice president spot, that exact experience has really helped me understand, like, how things get done, how important administrative relationships are. At the end of the day, SGA, like, all of what we are able to do comes on behalf of what the SGA sets forward, and the relationships we have with the administration. And so that has been a very valuable lesson to me, and I think some of the steps I've taken in my position for vice president of financial affairs, specifically with making sure that student organizations are able to have access to funding throughout the year and making sure we that we are meeting with administration to try and increase that FAC funding or see where it can be spent best in any way possible really, makes me feel like I've had – obtained very valuable experience which puts me in a position where I think I could do a good job as executive VP.

Q: What is your biggest goal for the position?

A: That's always tough, because you've got to cut down your platform, but no, I would say expanding engagement within the SGA. Because, you know, a lot of people, if you want to get involved, you're going to find a way to get involved, but there is a lot of people who would do a great job, but just no one's really reaching out and saying, you know, like we really would like to have you here, we would really like to have you do this, because sometimes I get – for example, I can take FIC, or FYC, I'm sorry, First Year Council – you take First Year Council, and, you know, it's 50 kids. Hopefully it's going to be 65 with that amendment, but 50 kids in it, and if you are freshmen and want to get involved but you're not sure how, you apply to that and then you don't get in, then you are starting to think, ok, well maybe SGA is not for me, and that kind of just is a vicious cycle of thinking well, ok, maybe I'm not supposed to get involved, and I think if we could nip that in the bud by offering opportunities for more people to get involved for something I like to call "student action teams," which is basically groups of students that tackle a particular issue on campus. That could be as easy as, you know, a meeting once a month to do community service like Habitat for Humanity, community work at the homeless shelter, and gets a bunch of different students involved, and it's not a vigorous application process, like FYC, and it's, you know what, you want do something, we want to help you get involved, and I think that lends itself to creating, you know, more engaged students and better graduates once they leave Alabama, and I think if I had to pick one thing that I would be able to do the best is to help expand opportunities for students to make the most out of their college experience.

Q: What's the first thing you would do if elected?

A: The first thing I would do if elected. Well, there's a lot of cabinet changes we want to make and some certain, like, executive changes I want to make. First off, the implementation of those student action teams, making sure that, you know, we can put together those applications, get them out to everyone, get them out to new students, and work on that. Also I think there's a lot that we can do working with the director of multicultural affairs. I have an idea for what I like to call "concurrent positions," and what that basically means is there is a council under the director of multicultural affairs where if you are president of the cultural group, then by being the president you automatically hold a seat on this council under the director of multicultural affairs. So, and what I hope that would accomplish as quickly as possible is just a better conversation to avoid the duplication of efforts, because obviously everyone's resources are so limited on campus sometimes. If we could all pool our resources and get them together, and especially with – I mean, Alabama has the opportunity to really set the standard for how we can move forward and progress in diversity, and I think by implementing that right away, we would have a chance to, you know, work extremely quickly, extremely efficiently to put that together, make sure that that collective voice is more palatable.

Q: Why should indifferent students care about this election?

A: Again, I think, I think Alabama is at a point where we could have a big opportunity on campus, and that starts at the student level. The SGA, you know, it's a very finite group of individuals, and because of that, you know, their impact is great. Their official impact is reached by empowering students to have the ability to use their motivations and their resources to give back to this campus. That makes it a better environment for absolutely everyone, and I think students should care because we are at a point where we could progress forward in regards to diversity. We're at an extremely high rate of expansion within our campus, and so if we can be proactive now in offering students the ability to get involved, then we are going to be able to set this campus climate for the next 10 to 20 years as a campus that is involved with one another, that is supportive, and is very, you know, a very camaraderie feeling.

Q:How do you see the campus changing and/or staying the same by the end of your possible term?

A: I think – I hate to reiterate, but that's what I'm going to do, I'm sorry, I apologize, but I could see it changing because, again, if we can help unify the collective voice of different areas on campus through those things like concurrent positions and offering outlets for those voices to be heard, then we are going to have a better idea of what the Alabama student body looks like. So I think sometimes even as an Alabama student, we don't have the full picture of what that looks like. And, once again, SGA has the ability to make that a little bit more robust and a little bit more clear to everyone. Additional changes, again, I would love to see, again, a more engaged student body in regard to community service and in regard to working toward things that every student agrees on, but no one is working on specifically. All it takes is a few people that want to do it. If we give them those tools, then we will be able to enact, and I think it could go basically – gosh, I'm sorry – but, again, just, I see our campus being a little more empowering, having a little bit more of an equal voice among everyone but staying the same in just that it's a great place to go school, and there's a lot of opportunities that are out there, and I want to make sure that those opportunities are available to everyone.

Q: Can you give a fun fact about yourself for the students?

A: A fun fact about myself, wow. All right. I have an extremely irrational fear, and it's when – okay, you know when the elevator door opens, and you're going in and going out? I am deathly afraid that I'm going to get shut in an elevator door. And, like, you always see in the movies, like, I don't know how you want to cut this up for the article, but I guess my fun fact is that I have an extremely irrational fear that I will get shut in an elevator door and not make it out alive, I guess. That is my fun fact.

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