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Meet Your 2016 CUSG Candidates: Blackshire and Burgess

Blackshire and Burgess are using #ROARINGFOR to promote their campaign.
Contributed by Hunter Burgess

Blackshire and Burgess are using #ROARINGFOR to promote their campaign.

Senator Emily Blackshire
The Tiger News (TTN): How are you handling the downpour?(Her hair is still visibly wet from the rain outside)
Emily Blackshire (EB): So far so good. I’m a little damp at the moment, but some days that just happens. And we needed rain. Honestly the only thing I was thinking when I ask walking from my car was A) I hope my phone doesn’t get soaked because it just got waterlogged last week and B) at least it’s not cold out today.
But I’ve been doing this Point In Time count with the United Wear where every year they count the number of homeless people in the Upstate so that they can send those numbers to the federal government and get more money to allocate more resources. So thinking about that, when it rains, it’s a really hard day for some people, and I don’t think I’ve ever fully materialized that before.
That’s what I was doing yesterday all morning, through Pickens County. Clemson is the only major resource-rich entity up here, but we don’t even have a shelter in Pickens County.
TTN: What inspired the run?
EB: It’s actually kind of funny because Hunter and I didn’t know each other, we’d known of each other.
TTN: Was he in CUSG as well?
EB: No, he’s never been in CUSG, so it was kind of funny. I went to get coffee with my friend Bobby thinking it was just normal coffee with a friend. And he said ‘you know look, we have a team assembled, I have a running mate for you and we really think we can run a campaign off of organic student voices entirely and this is the year to do it. We have a unique opportunity.’ And as much as I love CUSG, and I am personally invested in it, I think there is a certain amount of disconnect between the general student body and what CUSG has been in the past. And I think we’re moving towards that, but it’s not there yet.
So the fact that Hunter wasn’t in CUSG was appealing because being VP, there’s a lot of opportunity to be a liaison to people. So we talked about platforms and how important it is to share the microphone. Hunter and I are both white people at a very white university. We both identify as Christian and we both have a lot of majority identities and that’s not expressing the student body as a whole But maybe because of those identities we can shift the system so that people who don’t look like us or think like us will be able to be in office in the years to follow.
We think it’s really important to bring as many voices as possible to the table, if elected. We want to bring back the idea that in the cabinet there are liaisons from all the big six, the Greek councils, so that they can directly advocate directly for their organizations. I want to do the same thing with a president’s council with groups that are traditionally marginalized. I want to bring people together from CGSA, the Black Student Union, and any organization that wants to apply.
We want to make sure that we are hearing people, and there are people directly advocating for themselves on this campus.
We do have a lot of pull with administration so we want to have as many student voices expressed in that body as possible.
TTN: Why is Inclusive Excellence such a core of the campaign?
EB: A lot of my frustration with Clemson comes from the way I’ve seen people be not taken into account when big decisions have been made in the past. And I don’t think any individual is to blame, I don’t think the administration is to blame or anyone at student government. I think a lot of times, we’re not trying to hear people, because we’ve never had to. They’ve never been to the dominant narrative. The loudest voice has gotten the microphone year after year
My hope is that we can share the microphone as much as possible.
A lot of the work that I’ve done on campus is centered around inclusive excellence.
We want the people to be able to represent themselves, which is a different dynamic than CUSG representing those people. Both are important, but you need people to represent themselves.
It’s important to open the channels for people to sit in the body and advocate for themselves.
CUSG’s job is to connect people with the administrators, which we’ve done through getting rid of the athletic field and making sure CAPS has the number of people it needs. But minority issues in particular have gone by the wayside because there hasn’t been enough of a ruckus in the senate chambers. 
TTN: We’ve noticed that a lot of students don’t necessarily know the function of CUSG. We’ve also seen how your campaign has utilized social media as a platform? How would you try to connect with students, like you are now, during the presidency?
EB: One of the things Hunter and I want to do is hold office hours that all students know about each week, so that we can commit every Friday afternoon where we can make sure we are present in a public place where we can get coffee and people can come and sit down and voice their concerns directly to us. We also want to release student generated videos every time a new policy is passed by administration that affects students.
People are entitled to information about what’s going on even if they don’t ask for it.
So it is our responsibility to explain what’s happening.
TTN: I know from your time with CUSG that sustainability is a huge part of your work. Do you have any plans for implementing those ideas in an administration? Are they still more general at this point?
EB: I work in the office of sustainability and I think Clemson’s view of sustainability has been about the Green Movement, which is definitely important, and we’ve been advocating for a sustainability director for years.
I think that we’re in a great place because having lead certified buildings is a mandate of the state when we use state funds.
We also think of sustainability as advocating for the resources that are already available and that all our projects have the longevity to last beyond our terms.
Sustainability is three pillars, social, economic, and environmental. So every policy change needs to focus on making sure it lasts, making it economically feasible, and taking the environment into account.
We have a lot of small projects ideas.
TTN: What do you want the Clemson community to know about you? 
EB: That I want to be able to sit down with them. We really do want to hear their voices. My biggest hope for this campaign, win or lose, is that people feel heard in the process. And that is something Hunter and I from the very beginning agreed upon.
Fun Facts about me: I took a gap year before I came to Clemson, I worked in Uganda, working with recent refugees. Taught sex ed at an elementary school and worked on economic sustainability projects.
I really love cats.
TTN: I’m going to play devils advocate for a second: from what I’m hearing people could call you an idealist. How would you respond?
 EB: Hunter and I are a bit different because we both have track records of really doing that. We’re both really invested in the communities that we’re a part of. Most of the people supporting us aren’t in CUSG and have admitted to having never voted before and wouldn’t be invested in this if they weren’t invested in us.
I wouldn’t be running for this if I didn’t honestly believe that I had an ability to be some sort of a bridge between the student body and the administration.
I also have a history of having great relationships with administration because of the projects I’ve worked on.
TTN: That ties into my next question: how do you feel prepared for this role by CUSG?
EB: I think one of the things CUSG does is make you feel empowered to have these name-to-name relationships with George Smith, with Almeda Jacks, and I’ve worked in the Office of Sustainability in Housing and Dining. I think that Joey and Nicki are every bit as capable because CUSG sets you up to have hard conversations, and I think they have a lot of potential to create change in a very different way.
I have a lot of relationships with people in Health and Human Services, where he has more of a focus on Transportation. 
TTN: What inspired your slogan?
EB: Once we settled on “Hear Our Roar” as an interactive hashtag, we wanted to make it about student voices. “Roaring for” as a hashtag and way to get students involved seemed like the natural progression. The megaphone was intentional because we want it to be about amplifying voices. “Amplifying voices, amending what doesn’t” was something I said in a meeting and we decided to go with it for the campaign.
Clemson students are empowered to do the most good in the most efficient manner. Clemson is a good place and working for their advantage, though we still have a lot of work to be done.
TTN: Nicki or Beyoncé? 
EB: Nicki. But I haven’t seen Nicki in concert, but I have seen Beyoncé. I used to watch the “Anaconda” video every single day, so I feel an allegiance to Nicki
TTN: Netflix or Hulu?          
EB: Netflix. 
TTN: Favorite Clemson Tradition? 
EB: 55 exchange, because I love Ice cream and it’s a student run business.


Hunter Burgess

The Tiger News (TTN): What is the most important part of the platform to you? 

Hunter Burgess (HB): The most important part of the platform to me is the pillar of “Inclusive Excellence”, which includes a lot. I really do have a heart for the individual students of Clemson and want to launch initiatives and projects in attempt to help every student feel at home at Clemson. 

Emily and I both will do whatever it takes to move towards that goal of a more inclusive, open and welcoming Clemson.

TTN: What benefits do you think not being in CUSG gives you?

HB: That’s a great question. Many candidates in years past have had a lot of prior experience being in CUSG coming into the position of VP, which is great, and I am sure has contributed to their success and effectiveness

as leaders. 

This prior experience, however, does have the opportunity to limit the candidate in their ability to be an advocate for the undergraduate student body of Clemson. Instead of devoting sequential semesters to various positions in CUSG, I have spent my past three years at Clemson involving myself with several different clubs/organizations, working two different on-campus jobs and most importantly investing myself in deep, lasting relationships with all of the amazing Clemson students that have surrounded me. 

I believe that my experience (which some might call “lack of experience”) is what qualifies me as VP to relate, empathize and advocate for the undergraduate student body. 

TTN: Netflix or Hulu? 

HB: Honestly, it depends on the season. You cannot watch last week’s episode of “The Bachelor” on Netflix, so. 

TTN: What’s your favorite Clemson tradition?

HB:  I am not sure if Midnight Breakfast in Harcombe is considered a Clemson

tradition yet, but I’m all about it.

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