A few weeks ago, Mercyhurst students went into their emails to cast their votes for the new Mercyhurst Student Government President and Vice President. The results are in.
Lily Smith will serve as President and Evan Medvec as Vice President for MSG for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Smith is double major in political science and public history. Medvec majors in intelligence studies with a minor in data science. Both individuals are highly qualified to take on these new roles.
This past academic year, Smith served as one of MSG’s Diversity and Cultural RSCO Senators working to help clubs such as Irish Club, American Sign Language Club and International Students Association. Medvec served as a Ridge College senator, but during previous years he served as a 2023 Class senator as well as serving on the Sustainability and University Operations Committee.
When asked what compelled her to run for the position Smith said, “I wanted to run for President to be a relatable person for students to turn to for advice or just to chat about the student experience at Mercyhurst.”
“For my career path, I want to get my Master’s in Public Administration and work on education policy reform. I am passionate about public service, and I figured this would be a great place to start,” said Smith.
“I love Mercyhurst and I see the potential for so many things to improve here. I was also mainly motivated because I knew a Black female had not been elected student government president at Mercyhurst before. Having the chance to break this glass ceiling and inspire Black female students at Mercyhurst in years to come is what really fueled me to run. Representation matters. Black women need to see themselves in leadership roles to know it is possible. Mercyhurst is also a predominantly white institution so having a Black student in this role will allow for a closer perspective on ways Mercyhurst can improve race relations and retention of students of color. I can now proudly say I am the first Black female student government President, and this reality is so much bigger than just me. It’s about making real change and inspiring people at Mercyhurst to reach for opportunities they may have considered beyond their means. Gratitude is a very important part of my life, and I always say I feel lucky to even be able to attend an institution of higher education. It is a privilege to have this opportunity and we should try to make these four years the best they can be. When I heard I won, I was filled with happiness, but I also have a deep-rooted sense of purpose that carries me through day to day.”
Being the first black female in the university’s history to serve as an MSG president means a lot to Smith and she hopes she uses this opportunity to positively impact the school.
“Being the first Black female student government president at Mercyhurst will hopefully affect the school in a multitude of ways. As a Black student at Mercyhurst, I have been asked to participate (and have gladly done so) in several race discussions, diversity panels, and things as such. The number one problem Mercyhurst faces with diversity is RETENTION of students of color. We need to create more initiatives and safe spaces for students of color; accepting them and leaving them to navigate their own path is not enough. I hope to help with this. In addition, the intersectionality of being a Black woman. Too often, women of color are knocked down, belittled, and society takes their intelligence as a threat. This needs to change. We should celebrate, not be intimidated by, intelligent women of color,” said Smith.
“For me, this is also extremely personal because it reminds me of a memory of my late Dad, who was Black, wanting me and my siblings to have every opportunity possible. After Barack Obama won president, my dad went to the store and bought groceries for a celebratory breakfast. He saw one of his colleagues at the store and told them with the biggest smile on his face, ‘Obama won, man! I cannot wait to go home and tell my kids they can be President some day.’”
“This is not to say Obama’s presidency wasn’t flawed. It was, just like every other administration. However, the day he won was the first time little Black children could picture themselves in the most powerful position in America. Thinking of that comment from my Dad brings me great peace because it shows the significance of representation. People of color are too often underrepresented in leadership roles. Although I am president of a much smaller scale organization (MSG), that is what this is all about representing people of color and showing future students of color that it is indeed possible to break these barriers. It is indeed possible to achieve great things as a Black woman,” said Smith.
Smith only has one year to accomplish her goals. When asked what she wishes to accomplish most, Smith responded by saying, “While President, I hope to increase awareness to racism and ways Mercyhurst can help combat racism on campus. We can do this through more discussions based on books and movies about race. I have facilitated discussions in the past and found them extremely educational for people with less background on how to be an actively antiracist ally. I also hope to create mental health forums for students each semester and promote the counseling center more. Mental health is something everyone struggles with at some point, so it should be talked about. We have resources on campus we can utilize, I want to promote them more and add to them to create a fortified experience. I also want to increase school spirit and student engagement in general coming back after Covid19 years!”
Medvec ran unopposed for the Vice President position, but that has no impact on the validity of his win.
“My friendships with the Mercyhurst community and experience within MSG compelled me to run,” said Medvec.
During his time as Vice President, Medvec hopes to accomplish great things.
“I have three major points: more inclusive, sustainability, and logistical operations that improve the Mercyhurst community,” said Medvec.
Similar to every other election, some students on campus voted for the other candidate or voted no confidence. Smith has a message for those who voted as such.
“ I study Politics, so I know the reality is that winning the election does not equal being liked by everyone. My job is not to be liked by everyone; I cannot really control that. My job is to do my best to be a voice for all students, so I hope you give me that chance.”
“To all the students who voted against me or voted no confidence, I hope I can still be a voice for you in some way. I hope you can see me as someone with good intentions looking to push the limits of what is possible to create the best experience and environment for all students. I have lost friends over my years here because they were not comfortable with me constantly speaking out against racial injustice, so I know this comes with the territory of being a student of color, specifically a woman of color. Again, this is about something bigger than just me. We need to start having these uncomfortable conversations to make actual progress. I am open to any suggestions on ways to improve anything on campus. I love Mercyhurst and will work hard to serve the student body,” said Smith.