Jackson ’15: "I saw so much potential" for change
Coworkers and friends of Class of 2015 senator Shawon Jackson describe him as the guy who’s always smiling, the guy who says hi to everyone and who’s always friendly.
Throughout his term in the USG Senate, Jackson has been involved with many initiatives, including providing students with bagels on the first day of classes and leading the third Committee on Background and Opportunity Survey. Jackson said he is now ready to take on a bigger role in USG as president.
Along with Class of 2015 co-senator Deana Davoudiasl, Jackson organized last spring’s “Clash of the Colleges: It's Time to Serve” competition, an effort to encourage involvement in service opportunities on campus. Additionally, Jackson led a project to revamp the SCORE website.
Jackson has also led the implementation team for COMBO III, an effort to compile and organize information about student life and demographics.
“COMBO was such an intricate and data-analysis-heavy project,” Davoudiasl, who has endorsed Jackson, said. The publication of the data set has been delayed by over a month to complete the results.
“Shawon figured it out by himself. We were clueless; he led us and mentored the group,” she added. “From the inception of a project to the completion, he is really invested 100 percent,” she said.
Other supporters of Jackson’s say his background as class senator leaves him well-prepared to serve as president.
“I like the direction that he is taking the USG,” U-Council member Paul Riley ’15, who has also endorsed Jackson, said. “Shawon is very vocal. He is able to speak his mind with clarity and confidence,” Riley explained.
Jackson’s campaign centers on three values: making the USG more accessible, accountable and approachable. In return, Jackson asks the student body to provide him with ideas.
“It shouldn’t be the president giving ideas but rather the students thinking about what they want,” Jackson explained.
Jackson said he envisions the USG president as the external image of the student government who sets the tone for what should get done. The USG vice president, he said, is the internal leader.
He also hopes to achieve increased efficiency within the USG. He plans to create a new mailing list and encourage more feedback within the organization.
“I believe Shawon has the vision and passion to be the next USG president and to improve the USG,” Davoudiasl said. Jackson will hold members of the USG accountable and be a mentor for the organization, she said.
Jackson chose to run for president as a sophomore — as former two-term USG president Michael Yaroshefsky ’12 did — because he wants to see change within the organization. According to Jackson, the USG is not as efficient as it could be.
“As I was working on different projects, I saw so much potential,” he said. “I told myself: If you want this vision to come through, you should just run.”
He explained he did not want to “play with politics” by waiting it out a year and decided to run as a sophomore because he was ready to make the change that he hoped to see.
Jackson said his experience working on a wide array of campus issues distinguishes him from his opponent, USG social chair Benedict Wagstaff ’14. From academic policy to residential life to his work with Career Services, Jackson said the variety of projects he has worked on gives him the background necessary to lead a variety of USG projects as president.
“I am really just running for this position because I want to lead the USG in serving students. That’s the bottom line,” Jackson said.
Beyond USG, Jackson is involved with Students for Education Reform and is also a member of a group that helps low-income students apply to college via scholarship programs. He identifies himself as a low-income student and noted that neither of his parents completed college. Jackson is also a member of diSiac Dance Company.
“Shawon is an extremely likable, genuine and sensible guy that can also dance and shake his booty,” fellow diSiac member Daniel Shum ’16 said.
Jackson is originally from the suburbs of Chicago and plans to concentrate in the Wilson School.