June 20, 2024

SGA Profile: UNITE UT seeks to unite students across campus

Phillip Newsom and Emily Dickey are two juniors hoping to establish unity across campus through their UNITE UT campaign.

Growing up two doors down from each other in their hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, Phillip Newsom and Emily Dickey became friends through mutual connections.

It wasn’t until their junior year at The University of Tennessee, when they realized they shared a common vision for how student government was supposed to be and decided to run for student body president and vice president together.

“We want student government to be open to everybody. We want that to be something where they can come up and talk to us,” Newsom said. “We want it to be something where they feel comfortable.”

Newsom emphasized that he wants students to visit them in Dunford Hall and share their ideas or talk to them in class and share what aspects of student government they like and dislike.

“Last year, I was going to run (for president) and then I just decided to get more involved and learn more, because I think it would be more beneficial if I did have experience first,” Newsom said. “….we started with kind of helping other people, but I think we’d be selling the student body short because we think that our vision and what we want to accomplish through student government really is the best way we can do it and it really will help students.”

In agreement with Newsom, Dickey emphasized that students come first.

“SGA isn’t just an organization, it’s the student body’s organization,” Dickey said. “That’s our whole thing, we have to shift the focus. It’s a culture change, but I think we can do it.”

Dickey stressed that the overarching theme for their campaign is that student government should be something that unites people, regardless of where a student stands on a particular issue.

Some policy points for UNITE UT include an enlightened alcohol policy, a carpool pass, a real meal equivalency and a freshman field guide.

Newsom and Dickey emphasized the importance of the freshman field guide for incoming students. According to Dickey, this would be a cut and dry system that would answer incoming students’ questions in a timely manner.

“My freshman year, knowing when stuff was open was huge,” Newsom said. “I lived in Reese and I figured out when Pres court and everything closed, but when the old UC was up, I didn’t know when that stuff was closed.”

Newsom explained that he didn’t know until recently that there was an official close time for HSS, until he and Dickey were studying and someone told them they had to be out by 11 p.m.

“I feel like it’s stuff like that, that should be told,” Dickey said.

Dickey said that their goal for this is for the first-year council to create this guide and with each new first-year council, the council would make a new one, especially because they are all freshman.

For the real meal equivalency policy point, Newsom and Dickey want to work with administrators to develop a model similar to other universities in Tennessee to increase the ‘equivalency’ amount for students.

Newsom and Dickey are also advocating for a ‘Carpool Parking Pass,’ which will allow commuter students to purchase a single pass for their entire house or apartment. This pass is intended to help reduce the amount of traffic on campus at peak times and cut down on gas emissions. Newsom and Dickey are also advocating for a similar pass for students in Sorority Village to park on campus instead of relying on UT’s bus system.

Aside from policy points and campus involvement, most people might not know that Dickey is undefeated in foosball.

“I’m accidently very good at foosball,” Dickey joked. “I’ve never lost a game. I’m undefeated. If you would like to challenge me on that, let’s go.”

Newsom, on the other hand, loves accounting.

“Once I took the [first accounting] class, I knew this was for me,” Newsom said. “I just think it’s really cool. As weird as it sounds, I really do enjoy accounting.”

Ultimately with their campaign, Newsom and Dickey want students to feel comfortable with their student government. Newsom stressed that while yes, it is student government, it’s a student organization.

“Phillip and I are nothing special, but SGA can be if it’s done right,” Dickey said.

For more information on the UNITE UT campaign, visit their website. Voting begins Monday, April 10 at 9 a.m. and continues through Thursday, April 13 at 5 p.m.

Featured image courtesy of UNITE UT’s Facebook page

Edited by McKenzie Manning