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Presidential candidate Riley Grant and vice-presidential candidate Tucker Lovett pose behind the Grehan Journalism Building on Feb. 22, 2017. Photo by Rick Childress

When Riley Grant and Tucker Lovett met, Lovett knew they had the same ideas, goals and interests for UK students. Now, Grant and Lovett are running together for SGA president and vice president.

Grant asked Lovett to join him on his ticket, which is one of three on the ballot for president and vice president.

Grant, a finance and accounting junior, currently serves as an SGA senator and was coordinator for special events in his sophomore year. Lovett, a sophomore double majoring in finance and agricultural economics, worked on an SGA campaign last year but has not yet held a position within SGA.

Grant, who was Beta Theta Pi’s president last year and is involved with DanceBlue and other campus organizations, said his involvement across campus has allowed him to meet a lot of people and experience a lot of UK. 

“You kind of get a feel for issues that are going on and problems that people see,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been put in a very unique position to be able to pursue SGA president and to hopefully serve the position to the best of my ability.”

Grant said he and Lovett have a lot of plans and goals, but their platform focuses on three issues: on- and off-campus safety, student advocacy and financial responsibility.

Grant said there will always be safety issues, but there are also precautions that can be taken and changes that can be made.

One solution would be better lighting on campus, particularly around the Kirwin-Blanding complex. Grant said he thinks UK is “turning a blind eye” toward the safety concerns in that area.

Another area of concern is on the streets of State, University and Waller, where thousands of students go every weekend for parties.

Grant and Lovett would like to reconsider UK’s alcohol policy to get students out of that area and into safer, more secure places.

Grant said one way to fix this is to have “a wet campus, but very regulated.” He said he is not promotion underage or irresponsible drinking— and he would continue the policy of no alcohol in dorms— but he believes a “more wet campus” would keep students safer.

Student advocacy is the second part of their platform because much of SGA’s role is bringing together campus leaders and advocating for students, Grant said. 

“A lot of what we want to do is amplify the voice of students,” he said.

One important area they want to advocate for is mental health. One of the things they are most passionate about is implementing a Mental Health Week to promote the resources UK has to offer and open a dialogue to get new ideas. Grant said an event like that could “spark positive change.”

Grant and Lovett have had this idea for a long time now, but the recent shooting at Marshall County High School put things in a new perspective for Lovett, who graduated from Marshall County in 2016.

“My biggest takeaway from what happened at home is we have to invest in mental health,” he said. “We have to do that. We don’t have a choice.”

Third, Grant and Lovett want to make sure that the funds allotted to SGA, and other campus organizations, are used efficiently.

SGA has run on a surplus budget for six to seven years, Grant said, so he wants to either give it back or focus on “making sure we use every dollar, that it goes back to the students on this campus.”

Both Grant and Lovett are Kentucky natives who naturally ended up at UK— “it just felt right for me,” Grant said.

When Lovett was making his college decision, he was told that he would likely be a “small fish in a big pond” at UK. He didn’t like that, and it is one of the driving forces behind his desire to be SGA vice president. 

“I wanted to go somewhere and wanted to make a difference there,” he said. “I wanted to make it better than I left it.”

Win or lose, they will try to serve UK, whether through another SGA position or through other campus organizations.

“My passion for UK and for helping students is not going to change no matter the outcome of this election,” Grant said.

Grant and Lovett are facing Ross Boggess and Sydney Otten, and Michael Hamilton and Noor Ali. 

Elections will be held on Feb. 21 and 22 at http://uksga.org.