Melanie Flowers, president of Student Government at NC State, has been elected by her peers to serve as chair of the Council of Student Body Presidents for the University of North Carolina System. The Council of Student Body Presidents is a standing committee that is part of the General Assembly for the University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments (UNCASG).
“I’m honored to have been elected by fellow Student Body Presidents across the UNC System to serve as chair of the Council of Student Body Presidents alongside the Vice Chair Je’den Clark, the Winston Salem State University student body president,” Flowers said. “This opportunity is giving me a deeper dive into public service work and I’m excited to do meaningful work representing all 17 institutions within the University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments.”
The Council of Student Body Presidents operates as the leading legislative group for UNCASG, and during her term from May 2020-April 2021 Flowers will oversee the policymaking process and all initiatives established as part of the UNCASG’s Strategic and Annual Advocacy Plans. She and the council will also add objectives for UNCASG departments such as government outreach, graduate student relations, campus outreach, and more. In addition, the council manages financial and personnel matters and awards.
Although this is Flowers’ first formal position with the UNCASG, she has been involved in Student Government throughout her college career. She started as a first-year senator at Western Carolina University, where she helped advocate for changes at the university level after a series of racially charged incidents. She also attended her first UNCASG meeting, hosted at NC State. Not coincidentally, she transferred to NC State the following year.
“That weekend, I was really inspired to continue being involved in Student Government at NC State,” Flowers said. “Passionate student leaders from across the state talked about major challenges our institutions face and how we as a body could move the UNC System forward. UNCASG is a really special space; the energy and determination from experienced student leaders made me look forward to my potential.”
Flowers has since served as a senator, chair of the Appointment Committee, a voting member of the Committee on Finance, and as a member of the Diversity Outreach Department for NC State Student Government. This spring, she was elected to serve as president for Student Government’s 100th session.
“I became student body president because I believed in myself and [Vice President] McKenzy Heavlin,” Flowers said. “Together we have had a great amount of student involvement experiences and we were confident we would be competitive president and vice president candidates. McKenzy and I really started building our platform in January through brainstorming our own ideas, auditing past Student Government initiatives, meeting with several campus leaders to learn about how SG could support them in supporting students, and, most importantly, we met with students. We’re excited to be advocating in the areas of food and housing insecurity, well-being, sustainability, academics, and Student Government affairs. Students have the ability to impact the well-being of students, and I’m honored to be a part of SG’s story for session 100.”
Representing 35,000 of her peers was already a daunting task, but beginning her term as Student Government president during a pandemic is an additional, unexpected challenge for Flowers. However, she views it as another opportunity to learn and grow as a leader. In fact, she has gotten to work with NC State administrators behind the scenes and learn first-hand about crisis management and communications at the university level.
“A difficult lesson I’ve been learning is the inability to make everyone happy,” she said. “This is a sentiment I’m not unfamiliar with, but seeing it play out is very difficult. Student Government is dedicated to representing every single student to the university. When I’m in meetings and a student circumstance hasn’t been considered, I’m always happy to bring awareness to what students are experiencing. What’s been difficult is there isn’t always a direct solution, especially within spaces thinking through university operations with COVID-19. It’s been very important to be informed about CDC guidelines as they continue to publish instructions on what expectations can be set to keep people safe.”
Flowers said she has also learned the importance of teamwork and collaboration.
“I am part of something bigger than myself,” Flowers said. “SG’s history is a story of some pretty incredible triumphs within NC State and the greater Raleigh community. I’ve been very fortunate to have some previous student body presidents reach out to me and offer themselves as support, which has been invaluable. I’m looking forward to doing the same with the current officials for the incoming leadership next year.”
This post was originally published in DASA.