Being the Change

New UNC ASG President wants to extend dialogue between students, Board of Governors

“Listen to students. Learn from students. Advocate for students.”

Tyler Hardin’s platform while running for president of the University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments was pretty straightforward. Hardin, a rising senior at Appalachian State University, wants to be the conduit between the Board of Governors and the more than 220,000 students they serve in the UNC system.

Hardin, of Greensboro, already has some experience giving a voice to students. While serving as a senator for Appalachian State, he wrote and passed the Student Advisory Council Act, which created a student advisory council for every campus department.

“That was a way of enhancing the student voice,” Hardin said. “It was a way of ensuring that students had a say in how their department may look moving forward.”

After a year of serving as vice president for media outreach under former ASG President Madeline Finnegan, Hardin is now moving into a role with a much larger constituency and one where he will interact with University President Margaret Spellings and board members regularly.

“The biggest challenge is ensuring that President Spellings and the board are actively engaged with and listening to students across the system,” he said. “I think President Spellings did a great job with her listening tour, and I want to advance the student perspective to the board. So, my overall goal would be not only to bring the students to the board to share their perspectives, but to bring the board members to the students.”

Learning from Gandhi

To accomplish that dialogue, Hardin’s philosophy comes from a quote from the late Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

“That’s what I want to see – more of a candid dialogue between students and board members to make sure that the decisions that are being made at the highest level reflect what the students wish,” he said.

To do that, Hardin wants to organize “Be the Change” town hall meetings throughout the year, where students will be able to interact directly with board members.

Hardin said that even though he speaks for all students during board meetings, his perspective is rather limited, considering the diverse demographic, economic and educational backgrounds of his constituents.

“I’m only one person with one set of experiences at one university,” he said. “With 16 university campuses and a residential high school, for me to represent that, it’s a huge honor and huge responsibility that I don’t take for granted.”

Board of Governors Chairman Lou Bissette said having a strong voice for the students working with the board can have an impact on the decision-making process.

“Working with the ASG president on the board allows us to see some of the issues facing our students that we may not be fully aware of,” he said. “That can help us in making the most fully informed decisions we can on behalf of the University. We’ve had a strong voice for the students over the past year with Madeline, and I’m certain it’s going to continue with Tyler.”

Finnegan, a rising senior at North Carolina State University, said Hardin’s personality makes him a good fit for his new role.

“I think he brings a lot of great qualities that will serve him well,” she said. “He is really friendly, which people may not think is important, but he is really excited to talk to people and is really good at listening to people and hearing their stories. He comes from the same philosophy as I do, which is getting as much feedback from people about any certain issue. He’s also really well-spoken. I think he’s really measured – he has his opinions, but he knows how to share them in a constructive way where people will listen to him.”

Hardin said he’s always had an interest in politics, and is an electronic media/broadcasting/media studies major at Appalachian State. He said he would love to live in New York or Washington, D.C. after graduation to work in broadcast journalism.

“I would love to host a morning show,” he said with a chuckle. “There’s a political side and a news side, but also a fun side. I feel like that sums me up – I know when to be serious and when to have fun. That’s my ultimate dream, to deliver the news to millions of people. That’s a big responsibility, to hold our leaders accountable.”

Meanwhile, he’s focusing on his responsibility as the ASG president.

“I’m so thankful for this opportunity and so thankful that I’ll be spending the year meeting students and hearing their concerns and their achievements,” he said. “We have a very robust, very rich system that I think we should be very proud of and that we should want to share.”

Written by Phillip Ramati

 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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