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Meet the Candidate: Memphis Peterson

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, The Maine Campus interviewed Senator Memphis Peterson, a candidate for Student Body Vice President. Current Vice President Keegan Tripp, who is running for president without any current challengers, personally selected Peterson to join the 2024 ticket. Peterson shared his vision to expand campus connectivity and ensure that student-body-endorsed initiatives are at the top priority levels of the administration.

Peterson is a third-year political science, history and legal studies student at the University of Maine. 

Initially joining student government as a Sergeant at Arms in 2021, he has consecutively served as senator since his first year. Becoming Pro-Tempore during his second year, Peterson also chaired the Services Committee as the liaison between student government and campus auxiliary services. 

Currently, Peterson chairs the policy and procedures committee in addition to his three-year senatorship.

“I’m running for vice president of student government now because it definitely has the potential to be more of a managerial position within the office to be able to guide senators and let them take on their own initiatives while keeping all of the bureaucratic paperwork out of their way,” Peterson explained.

Peterson forefronted four campaign objectives: connectivity, accountability, accessibility and safety. 

“We want to make sure that the hidden gems in the population are at least aware that student government is here and there’s potential for them to be leaders,” Peterson said, referencing the 10 vacancies in student government leadership positions after the current seniors in those roles graduate in May.

Peterson supports initiatives improving caretaking maintenance and quality of life on campus, from dorm advancements to adding a Starbucks in the Union. 

“Watching the Kiwibots struggle to go across the sidewalks and the streets already there– That’s the perfect metaphor for where the priorities are for a lot of the funding on campus. It should be those streets and sidewalks that we’re improving. That’s what we mean by accessibility and safety,” Peterson said.

“It’s very frustrating. There are other projects that students have been promised in the past, like Wells Central being renovated and reopened moving on to York and Hilltop,” Peterson remarked, citing that while Hotel Ursa construction has been fast-tracked within two months, Wells Dining, which was supposed to reopen this past fall, is far from completion.

Peterson also highlighted that campus connectivity improvements are crucial in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, which drastically deteriorated the average college experience. 

“The student body is no longer in a rebuilding phase. We’re in an innovation phase,” Peterson said.

Peterson is confident that student government has provided ample opportunities to cultivate a procedural proficiency in structuring senate meetings and efficiently collaborating with fellow student leaders. According to Peterson, these skill sets will allow him to fully meet the “managerial” expectations of a student body vice president.

“I believe I am the most qualified. The biggest responsibility at the surface level for the vice president is to chair all the meetings. That’s a super important skill to have,” Peterson said. “The past three years as a senator have helped me iron out my understanding of how a senate meeting should work, [and] how an office should be managed.”

As an open-minded leader, Peterson allows all student body proposals to be evaluated equivalently. Chairing the policy and procedures committee, he moderated questions and debates, opening the forum appropriately and “irons out projects” before reaching a consensus on an initiative’s destination. 

“I need to see the goal and the vision to figure out how to get there in the best way possible,” Peterson said.

Peterson’s philosophy prioritizes student suggestions, which he credits as the cornerstone of student government. “Our initiatives should make way for the other student leaders on campus [who] may not have time for student government or have other priorities or passions,” Peterson explained.

“I’m the senator that’s not afraid to say, what if this is a student government problem? What if, as student leaders, we’re not doing enough to communicate with the Administration or to bridge the gap between the undergrads and faculty? That’s what I’ve done for the past three years.  That’s what sets me apart.”

Campaign-related correspondence for the Keegan-Memphis 2024 ticket can be directed to their joint Instagram account @keeganmemphis24.

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