“Together, we can,” is the slogan and message junior Kenneth Brown Jr. wants people to remember as he steps into his new role as SGA executive president.
Brown has been a member of SGA since his freshman year, when he was elected to be class of 2019 president, a role he was re-elected into his sophomore year. His involvement with student government began in high school when he served as president his junior and senior year.
“SGA was something that I did in high school,” Brown said. “We did not really do much with it in high school, but I knew I wanted to be a part of something in college that involved action.”
Brown decided to step back from student government his junior year so he could spend a semester abroad in Scotland at the University of Glasgow. Upon his return, Brown wanted to come back to SGA and run again this spring. As he began to work on his campaign, he thought about what change he wanted to see on campus.
Brown, with the help of his campaign manager, junior Mariatu Okonofua, established his campaign and brought together a team of people willing to help him spread his message. He created social media accounts, a website and began engaging with students.
The website outlines what his platform is all about, and Brown even created a playlist for his campaign, which was inspired by former President Barack Obama’s own election playlist.
“Music plays a really big role in bringing people together and encompassing a message,” Brown said. “I think it is cool to use music as a tool to get our message across.”
Brown established four main pillars of his campaign: engage, connect, support and uphold.
Brown said the Elon community as a whole can work together to engage in various ways including school spirit and service.
“We would be enhancing school spirit, like helping Phoenix Phanatics continue to find their footing,” Brown said.
Phoenix Phanatics is an organization on campus with a mission revolving school spirit and showing support to the athletics programs during their games. As a member, Brown has been photographed and spotted at various sports games. He is often seen in the crowd showing his support for the Elon Phoenix teams.
Through engagement, Brown also hopes to involve outside of campus with the surrounding community.
“We want to engage with our community and make sure we’re being respectful guests of our home,” Brown said. “This could mean creating something like a day of service.”
A day of service is an instance of involvement, but Brown said being able to connect can come through engaging. He said each pillar is of equal importance to him because they all link together.
Sophomore marketing major Sofia Montalbo is the social media manager for Brown’s campaign and runs his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. She became involved with the campaign because she believes one of the most important pillars is the ability to engage.
“We can engage in important dialogue and in activities that are inclusive and diverse,” Montalbo said. “For the era that we are in now, it is more important than ever to have important political discussions, to bring up questions you may have and engage in activities that may be out of your comfort zone.”
Dialogue is another instance of involved engagement. Brown specifically hopes that through the ability to connect, the student body can come together
“When it comes to issues of diversity and inclusivity, we want to ask how do we make sure that we get those people who should be in the room into the room during these conversations, those [people] who believe thoughts should be challenged,” Brown said. “We will not be afraid to call people out on issues of discrimination,” Brown said. “We are not having that on our campus. Racism, sexism, homophobia, all these isms and all these phobias — they have no place here on our campus and we will work to get rid of it.”
Finally, Brown wants to be able to support the student body in whatever way possible. One of his main goals in supporting students is by promoting mental health awareness. An objective President Leo Lambert and Connie Book are also set on achieving.
“Something I want to start is an initiative called, ‘Chill Out, Elon,’ which would promote mental health awareness, self-care tips and what that really looks like,” Brown said.
He wants everyone to feel a sense of belonging on campus, which he said he realizes can be difficult because not everyone feels like they can have support on campus the way others do.
“Elon is made for specific people,” Brown said. “It is a private university, so if you come from money or middle class, or whatever this better form of living is, Elon is the type of campus that is meant for those people. This can be hard for students who come from low-income backgrounds.”
Brown himself is familiar with this as he is part of the Odyssey Program and is a recipient of The Leon and Lorraine Watson Scholarship. The program is need and merit-based, and it has allowed students from a low socioeconomic status to study at Elon. He has displayed a leadership role within the program by being a mentor for the class of 2020 and hold this role again for the class of 2022.
“Luckily for me, I have been blessed with so many opportunities to be able to create my space and create the ways in which I can belong,” Brown said. “I think having a student body president who is totally different from the majority of this campus can help students feel like they belong in a sense where they can think, ‘I can be student body president, too’ or ‘I can do this, too.’”
Brown said he realized this campaign and the presidency were much bigger than himself.
“This thing is bigger than me,” Brown said. “Just like in Hamilton [the musical], we outlive what we do, and we have a responsibility to focus on that as well. We have to make sure that this campus is better for future students.”