About the Author
Coleman Simpson is studying Agricultural Education and Political Science at North Carolina State University. He is engaged on campus by serving as a Student Senator and as part of the Thomas Jefferson Dual-Degree Scholars program. His want to write for RISE NEWS stems from the fact that no one from his hometown is woke, so he’s trying to fix that. His hobbies include: binge watching House of Cards, being the one liberal in his family, and browsing random hardware stores.

NC State Elects Its First Latina Student Body President

The sound of shattering glass was all that you could hear on North Carolina State University’s campus on March 2, as the results from Student Government elections were announced.

Jackie Gonzalez and Mia Connell were elected to be the next Student Body President and Vice President.

Gonzalez and Connell went through two separate elections, winning the general election with 28.6% of the votes cast, advancing to the run-off election that took place two days later, securing the win with 64.4% of the votes cast in the run-off.

This win was historic, and that night, four glass ceilings were shattered to pieces.

Mia Connell (L) and Jackie Gonzalez (R). Photo Credit: Mia Connell/ Facebook

Gonzalez was the first Latinx identified individual elected to the office of Student Body President, and Connell was both the first female, and female of color elected to become Vice President.

Together, they made history by becoming the first all female ticket to win the dual-ticket race.

I was able to sit down with both Gonzalez and Connell to discuss their want to be President and Vice President, their historic win, and their goals for the next year.

RISE NEWS: Why did you want to become the Student Body President?

Gonzalez: I’ve always been drawn to NC State. It was the first college I ever really stepped foot on and I did that at orientation. I’m a first generation college student, so I didn’t really know about the college application process. I didn’t know you were supposed to tour schools before applying. I came NC State immediately and I loved it so there was no other option. Then I started getting involved in Student Government and loved it. The reason that I ran was because NC State has shown their acceptance of me and has helped me grow as a person so I want to make sure other students have those experiences as well.

RN: Why did you want to become the Student Body Vice President?

Connell: I want to run because I have been involved in Student Government my entire time here at State, and I’m really passionate about Student Government. I have been able to see many of the great initiatives that other individuals have been able to accomplish through Student Government and I think that can be expanded upon and improved. Even though we’re already doing great things, it can always be strenghtened.

RN: How do you feel about winning the election?

Gonzalez: I was absolutely taken back by our lead in the end. I think both of our leads were interesting. We knew it was going to be a difficult campaign season because all of the candidates were really great, but winning with 7 votes in the general and then winning with over 1000 in the run-off was just ridiculous. It was absolutely insane and we’re really grateful that what we did actually worked. What it really went down to was speaking with students and getting out there and getting to students that didn’t know to vote.

Connell: I feel grateful. It was a really tough process. Every campaign season is different. I was expecting it to be like last year’s and it was very different, so it was hard to adjust, so I’m very grateful for how quickly we adjusted to changes in the election. We were able to capitalize off the strengths and weaknesses of the team throughout the election season, so I’m grateful that we ran at the time that we did, that we had the support that we did, and that we ended up coming out on top.

RN: What does it mean to become the first all-female ticket to win?

Gonzalez: When I went into the decision process of whether to apply or not, I knew that I wanted to do it with another woman of color. I knew it was time to prove to NC State that two women of color are qualified and capable of standing up for others and representing others in a higher institution. So it feels GREAT. People actually listen to us and people actually care and that’s something we appreciate. Knowing that our team was as diverse as it was, we made sure to stick with our guts and to do what was right for the campaign.

Connell: People like to vote for people that look like themselves, and I don’t always look like every student on our campus, which can be considered a strength, but can also be considered a weakness. Jackie and I were both very nervous to run together. That was one of the first conversations we had together – that we would be viewed differently because we were an all female ticket. And it’s not something that people consciously do, but you are viewed differently when you’re an all female ticket, and it worked in our favor this year, but it other years it hasn’t. I look at it as the fact that less people are starting to look at gender or sex as a qualification for a role.

RN: What are you looking forward to accomplishing in the next year?

Gonzalez: I think the thing I am most passionate about is sexual assault education. It was very big for me. It’s something I want to make sure that other students have their resources and know what their resources are and are educated on this topic. I think what I campaigned on was something similar to that, where my biggest goal was to make sure that students know their resources, and to know that they don’t have to go through Student Government to talk to administrators – that they can go directly to them because they are students here and administrators are willing to listen to them. To take down that barrier between administrators and students is another big goal.

Connell: When I think of the upcoming year I’m very excited because we have a very cohesive team of Student Body Officers. I’m here to create a cohesive Student Government that can serve the student body in a useful way. As Vice President, I am internally focused. I am focused on running the Executive departments, and making sure that Student Government as a whole is working cohesively. I really want to improve our Retreat experience. Our Retreat experience is something that can be more engaging for our student leaders, and more useful. I think we can bring more tools to that setting, more training, more initiative and idea building, and connecting them to more University resources so they know who to go to. If we start off on the right foot and the proper training and guidance, it make the whole year run more smoothly.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: NC State University/ Facebook

Why Politics Is Actually Personal

“I love you, but I just don’t really agree with your lifestyle.”

“Just because I voted for Trump doesn’t mean I don’t care for you.”

“Trump’s policies aren’t actually going to affect you.”

“It’s just politics, it’s nothing personal.”

I’ve heard every single one of these comments – whether it was over lunch in high school, with friends both before and after the election, and just through everyday interactions with people with different personal and political ideologies from myself.

I’m used to it, it happens to everybody from all walks of life and from all political parties.

You’re going to come face to face with people that don’t agree with you politically, and sometimes you’re just not going to like them.

Which is fine.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that you don’t agree with someone’s views.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that you can still try to maintain a relationship regardless of different ideologies.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that you simply can’t get along with someone due to their views.

But it’s a completely different, and frankly ludicrous, thing to pretend and ignore the fact that your political thoughts, opinions, and choices are not personal, nor that they will be taken personally by someone.

When I tell someone that supports ‘traditional’ marriage that I support marriage equality, that’s a direct assault on their belief system.

When people tell me that they don’t believe in evolution, that’s a direct assault against my scientific beliefs.

When people tell me they don’t want non-Christians in the United States, that’s a direct assault against my personal belief system.

Let me be clear, I identify as a Christian, but I also strongly believe that under the Constitution, people have the right to identify with what religion they so choose – which is a core value I hold.

When people choose sides on key political policies and issues, they are attacking the other side, and it gets personal.

Want an example of how personal politics can be?

Look at the last election.

Both sides attacked the other’s character.

Politics is often about identity, which means its personal. Photo Credit: 5chw4r7z/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

They focused not on the policy issues or promises while in office, and instead fixated on how corrupt the other was, how self-serving the other was, and how they were bad for the American people – not because of their policies, but because of their person.

The most remembered question of the debates was, “What is one nice thing you can say about your opponent?”

That question served no true purpose in the sense of the debate or in persuading voters’ opinions, and, in my opinion, was just used to continue the ongoing personal fight between candidates.

This piece isn’t supposed to be a liberal whining session, but instead to show everyone that politics is personal, and that everyone takes it personally.

The only times you’re truly not going to take politics personally is when your party is winning and in control.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay to be upset when there’s a policy that affects you in a negative way.

It’s okay to be elated when the Supreme Court rules in favor of a case that positively impacts your life.

It’s okay to not get along and to have different sides on issues.

What isn’t okay, and what is downright dangerous, is to ignore the notion that politics is anything but personal.

You’re going to be biased, and when someone attacks your values, they’re attacking you.

My collegiate career in NC State’s Student Senate has been defined by the debates and bills I have worked on, and even though people may say it’s not the case, every attack on my bill is an attack on me, my values, and my work.

And frankly, I don’t know of a way to get around this.

Politics is so ingrained in our society and the impact of the government on people’s lives is so pronounced that people take all policy changes personally – and that’s just the world we live in.

Just be sure to acknowledge that you’re biased, and remember what it feels like when you’re party isn’t the party in charge next time your friend complains about what’s going on in politics.

You don’t have to be impartial or remove all emotions and preconceptions of your ideologies – just have some compassion and empathy towards your fellow political junkie.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker/Flikr (CC by 2.0)

If Liberals Really Believe In Science Then They Have To Stop Attacking GMOs

My Facebook feed is littered with posts, articles, and opinions of my liberal friends posting about the overwhelming science that supports that climate change is real, and that the deniers need to look at the proof.

However, many of these same friends will turn around and post article after article on why GMOs are terrible for you and how they harm your body.

But where’s the actual science that supports that?

Seems like a problematic double standard.

The vast majority of scientific research points to the fact that GMOs are not harmful to the human body nor the environment.

In fact, the National Academy of Sciences just released a report of a review of hundreds of research articles, testimonies, and questions about the safety of GMOs.

So where is the disconnect – and why do so many liberals acknowledge the majority of scientists that support climate change, but not the majority that supports that GMOs are not bad for you?

If you look at political demographics, you see that 70% of Democrats trust scientists to research climate change, while only 15% of Republicans support that.

Many progressives are distrustful of GMO’s. Photo Credit: Donna Cleveland/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Alternatively, 56% of Democrats believe that GMOs are unsafe to eat, while 51% of Republicans say the same – with only 43% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans saying that they are safe to eat.

When you examine the perception of GMOs in the United States, you’ll see many arguments against GMOs – from the “evils” of the Monsanto Chemical company, to people boycotting and protesting Roundup Ready crops.

This opposition stems from scientific research that is full of fraudulent misinformation, and they don’t examine the good that GMOs are able to accomplish, like the papaya crop success in Hawaii ten years ago, or the fact that scientists are trying to modify cows to produce less methane gas to, ya know, reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The latter bit would help combat climate change in a real way. 

Now, personally, I identify as a liberal, and I am 110% for questioning scientific research and letting new discoveries and inventions be properly vetted before being released into the public.

But at some point, the line needs to be drawn.

And to my liberal friends – I only have one message: Get. It. Together.

If we’re going to promote and support the majority of science that says climate change is a reality, then let’s stay constant and support the majority that says GMOs are not bad for you.

If we’re going to fight to save this planet from drastic climate and environmental change, then support the people who are actually trying to do that.

You want to make sure that the projected 9.7 billion people on this world in 2050 are going to have food?

Photo Credit: Daniel Arauz/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Then let’s support the scientists who are trying to feed people.

Let’s support the science and the research that is going towards trying to make food more affordable, more nutritious, more accessible, and more easily grown.

The population of the world isn’t going to magically go stagnant or go down, and if you didn’t know, growing food is hard.

We are able to feed 155 people per farmer currently.

In 1960, that number was 25.8.

If y’all want to be able to affordably eat within the next 50 years, if you want to help feed those less fortunate than you, and if you want to protect our planet, then start supporting and trusting the scientists who know what they’re doing.

Be consistent.

If we’re going to say we support science and validated research, then hold up that promise and start supporting all the validated science, not just the ones you want to.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Paul Sableman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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