The Daily Gamecock

Campaign staff build candidates' foundation


Each spring semester, the student body is bombarded with fliers, handouts and slogans from a select few who have decided to run for a Student Government executive office. This year, the student body presidential race has come down to runoff has come down to Trey Byars and Michael Parks.

While most students only see the finished product of the campaign, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Byars' and Parks' campaign staffs were vital to the candidates' success in the election so far.

Third-year political science student Trey Byars bases his platform on students' ability to make the Carolina community whatever they want it to be. His campaign team says Byars’ loyalty and dedication to the university will serve him well if he becomes student body president.

Second-year international studies student Abigail Nugent works closely with Trey as a member of his campaign team. Nugent worked on current Student Body President Jonathan Kaufman’s campaign last year, as well as presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s campaign.

Nugent said she never doubted who she would support in the student government elections this year. She believes that Byars' passion and integrity will be helpful in representing the student body.

“I’ve worked with Trey for a long time,” Nugent said. “I’ve always been really impressed with his work ethic and his determination and his ability to really bring people together and his passion for his ideas.”

Third-year public relations student Blakeney Powell, who also worked with Nugent on Rubio’s national campaign, serves as Byars’ social media coordinator. She said she works closely with Byars’ campaign manager and reaches out to students via social media to encourage them to vote for Byars.

Powell stressed the importance of both the candidate and his staff in making a campaign run smoothly.

“A lot of people do not realize how many little details go into a campaign, even at a university level,” Powell said. “I would not trade this experience for anything, though. Every long day is worth it when you get to encourage fellow peers to vote for a great guy.”

Nugent said that Byars’ campaign focused on interacting with students and telling them about Byars.

“This is really a grass-roots campaign,” Nugent said. “The more people you talk to, the more people get to hear your ideas, and the more they get excited about voting.”

Third-year finance student Michael Parks' platform includes several points, including a "Carolina Kickoff" event before the first football game and promotion of the "It's On Us" anti-sexual-violence movement.

Second-year public relations student Molly Chrisman is the director of public relations for Parks' campaign. As a friend of Parks', she knew that she wanted to be involved with the campaign as soon as he mentioned that he would be running for student body president.

Chrisman is responsible for all of the campaign's social media, as well as the official website. She also helped plan events, such as a rally at 650 Lincoln and the "Puppies for Parks" event.

"There is so much work that goes into putting on a successful event, and we are extremely blessed to have a dedicated team to help ensure these events run smoothly," she said. "The turnout for many of these events has far exceeded our expectations."

One of the goals of Parks' campaign was to increase the voter turnout for Student Government elections. Chrisman said that the dramatic increase in the number of voters from previous years was a happy surprise.

"It isn't easy to gain the support of students on a college campus, so it was really humbling to see how many students from different areas of campus supported Michael," she said. 

"Through this campaign, I have met students from all areas of campus and have had the opportunity to hear their ideas and opinions. It has been really cool to learn about my Gamecock family and what is important to them," Chrisman said.

Chrisman said that Parks' involvement with the campaign shows his ability to fulfill the position of student body president. Part of Parks' platform is to unite and empower the student body, and Chrisman said that the outpouring of support for him in the first election is a good first step towards that goal.