Howard’s next generation of student leaders must campaign while handling a social shift at the university.
In the midst of a pandemic and social unrest, student election season has arrived at Howard and numerous contestants are using the tough times as a way to bring students across campus together. Through activities, community bonding and networking events, many students use this opportunity to reach the student body beyond a Zoom screen.
Elections, which are held twice a year in the fall and spring, allow students to run for positions within the Howard University Student Association, the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Assembly, as well as within students’ local school and college student councils. Once elected, student leaders serve as the voice for the student body, help to make important decisions alongside the university and act as a bridge between Howard’s students and administration.
As the university recovers from a cyber attack and a year off campus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, students believe it is time for new leadership and a new direction.
“Stakes are even higher than before,” David Dupree Jr., a candidate for Mister School of Communications said. “The university is in a rebuilding phase due to Covid, so now more than ever we really need dedicated and focused leaders who can take Howard to a place that’s better than it was pre-Covid.”
Howard is facing an inevitable shift due to the pandemic, the Sept. 6 cyberattack, as well as social unrest within the undergraduate student body. Ellison Estwick, a junior television and film major, believes reconnecting the undergraduate student body will be crucial in rebuilding the Howard community.
“I want to implement more events where students can form natural bonds with each other–not just networking,” Estwick, a candidate for Miss School of Communications said. “Our students come onto campus really excited and then lose their spark [because] they couldn’t get into the organization or internship they wanted… because of the lack of knowledge that they have.”
Like Estwick, several Howard students believe there is a lack of communication on campus. This year’s candidates believe electing new student leaders is the first step to bringing back stable communication between the student body and the administration.
A new generation of student leaders brings new ideas. As students return to campus under a set of new rules, many are seeking to connect with peers and make up for lost time spent away from campus. As several students still have online classes, candidates like Brian Woodley are seeking out ways to safely connect with the campus and spark interest within the community.
Woodley, a freshman business marketing major vying to be Mister Freshman, wants to be a “brother figure [that Howard freshmen can] look up to”.
Although he was hindered due to the pandemic, Woodley has used social media as a platform to campaign and share his message with the freshman class.
Whether campaigning with social media or reaching out to the Howard community through games and bonding events, Howard’s next generation of student leaders seek to make their imprint on Howard’s legacy during unprecedented times.
Elections begin on Sept. 30. Students can access their ballots on BisonWeb under “Student Elections” in the Student Services tab.