Michael Hamilton wants to finish what he started.
Hamilton, the UK Student Government Association’s incumbent president, is running for a second year in office and a chance to continue the initiatives that he’s worked to put into place over the past school year.
“I'll be starting this job from day one with a year's worth of experience,” Hamilton said. “I'll be able to be really effective and represent students to the best of my ability starting from day one instead of having that learning curve like I've had this past year.”
In deciding whether to run again, Hamilton said he talked to many of his friends and mentors across campus. They all asked if he thought he still had work to do.
“Every time, I answered 'yes,’" Hamilton said.
If elected, Hamilton would have a new vice president, as the current VP is graduating.
“We're excited to hit the ground running if we're elected,” said Kat Speece, Hamilton’s running mate.
Speece, a junior who is a foreign language and international economics major with a focus on Chinese, said she jumped on the ticket with Hamilton because she’s hoping to help continue the current focus of the current presidential administration.
Over the past year, Speece has worked as SGA’s director of government relations and civic engagement. Essentially, she said, she worked as a liaison between SGA and lawmakers inside local and national government.
“Kat rocks,” Hamilton said.
The pair’s campaign platform revolves around four main points: making sure students have their basic needs met, increasing the general sense of campus belonging and inclusivity, campus sustainability and mental health awareness.
Hamilton said his administration has worked hard over the past year to provide services to students who may not have all their basic needs met, adding that one of the main roles of SGA is to “to provide services to students who need it.” He focused on hunger, as he’s felt that the Swipe Ahead program— an initiative his administration has helped pilot— has been successful.
The Swipe Ahead program looks to give free meal swipes to students who can prove that they’re food insecure. SGA, in partnership with SSTOP Hunger, were able to secure 2,000 free meals swipes from campus dining providers to test out the program over the past year. They developed an algorithm and a committee that is able to determine how many meal swipes to give certain students who are food insecure. Hamilton said they’d want to further watch over the growth of that program.
To encourage sustainability, Hamilton said his administration began this past year with an SGA cabinet position completely focused on making sure that the university uses sustainable practices with its resource management.
Hamilton and Speece said they also plan to focus heavily on increasing mental health awareness. Making sure that distressed students understand what they’re going through and where they can seek help on campus was a major focus of Hamilton's over the past year and will continue to be in the future, he said.
If elected, Speece said they would hope to add an entire position to SGA that would be focused entirely on student mental health advocacy and awareness. That position would ideally act as an advocate to the university administration on behalf of students who are struggling or think the university resources could be improved.
Currently, Hamilton said his administration has begun to work on developing a mental health learning program, similar to AlcoholEDU, that could be used to better educate students on better mental health so that they're able to identify distress and know about on campus resources in case they need to help themselves or help a friend.
With reelection, Hamilton said he’ll have the time to direct the power of student government to make change in the university community.
“If given another full year, we can really transform not only student government but the University of Kentucky for students,” Hamilton said.