Quantcast

CHAPEL HILL: Undocumented student runs for UNC student president - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

UNC student president candidate hopes run puts focus on undocumented students

Posted: Updated:
Emilio Vicente says he is the first openly gay, undocumented student to run for student body president at UNC. Emilio Vicente says he is the first openly gay, undocumented student to run for student body president at UNC.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

Most college elections for student body president get little attention outside of campus. But the race at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is making national headlines.

Emilio Vicente is one of four candidates for student body president at UNC. He's lived in North Carolina for 15 years, but he says his status at Carolina is an international student because he's undocumented.

Vicente says he's the first openly gay and undocumented immigrant to run for the seat.

"It just shows that undocumented immigrants are also part of different communities, and that we're active," said Vicente, who moved to Siler City from Guatemala when he was 6 years old. "I hope that's what the message is -- that we're already part of communities and a lot of us are already actively engaged in those communities, and we're trying to make a difference."

Because he's an international student, Vicente said he pays high tuition and does not qualify for government assistance. He said he pays for school through a private scholarship.

He said he hopes his campaign will have a benefit beyond UNC's campus.

"Win or lose, I hope this continues to drive the conversation of there needs to be reform in the immigration system," Vicente said. "We need to fix the immigration system."

The other candidates say the attention Vicente has brought to the race has helped them reach a wider audience too, and brought attention to more issues.

"It gives all of us more of a platform for things we care about, and so I don't think it's a bad thing," said candidate Nikita Shamdasai. "It's great that the university is getting positive press from all of this. It's great to run against an inspiring candidate."

Andrew Powell added, "It's been fun to be a part of this race since there has been so much attention, people have been paying a lot of attention. It's brought an opportunity for me to talk about issues that I really care about."

However one of the candidates said the downside is that much of the attention is focused on one candidate's background.

"The downside is that a large part of the race is now focused on candidate's background rather than the issues and the candidates' approach to solving these problems," Winston Howes said.

Still, Howes admits Vicente's candidacy has "caused a lot more students to look into the issues and make informed decisions on the direction they would like to see Carolina progress."

The election resulted in a runoff between Vicente and Andrew Powell, according to Vicente's media contact. The runoff election is planned for Feb. 18.

Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:00:14 GMT
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
  • Woman impales herself on cemetery fence; says she was running from attacker

    Woman impales herself on cemetery fence; says she was running from attacker

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 2:53 PM EDT2014-07-23 18:53:18 GMT
    A woman claims she was running from an attacker and tried to jump a five foot fence when she became impaled. Firefighters had to use power saws and a grinding saw to cut her free, all while she was conscious. After 30 minutes she was transported to an area hospital for surgery to remove the spike sticking out of her thigh. It happened at Vine Cemetery in Hazleton. She said the nearest gate was locked. Witnesses backed...
    A woman claims she was running from an attacker and tried to jump a five foot fence when she became impaled. Firefighters had to use power saws and a grinding saw to cut her free, all while she was conscious. After 30 minutes she was transported to an area hospital for surgery to remove the spike sticking out of her thigh. It happened at Vine Cemetery in Hazleton. She said the nearest gate was locked. Witnesses backed...
  • Man charged with killing UNC professor had just left Wake Jail

    Man charged with killing UNC professor had just left Wake Jail

    Friday, July 25 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-07-25 23:14:57 GMT
    Derick Davis II, 23 (Left) and Troy Arrington, Jr., 27, (Right)Derick Davis II, 23 (Left) and Troy Arrington, Jr., 27, (Right)
    An Orange County dispatcher sounded shocked Wednesday afternoon when a 911 caller described finding University of North Carolina professor Feng Liu beaten and dying on a street near the UNC campus.
    An Orange County dispatcher sounded shocked Wednesday afternoon when a 911 caller described finding University of North Carolina professor Feng Liu beaten and dying on a street near the UNC campus.
Powered by WorldNow

3221 South Evans Street
Greenville N.C. 27834

Telephone: 252.355.8500
Fax: 252.355.8568
Email: newsdesk@wnct.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.