Getting Involved in Student Government

Brian Nixon describes his camaraderie with Student Body President Kevin Howell and how he was recruited in the 1980s to run for student body treasurer, his first position in student government.

Interview on 2011-07-28


00:00:00.000 The first African American student body president, good friend of mine because-. We called ourselves the guys from the west,
00:00:08.912 because here's the state of North Carolina; Denver and Shelby are on the west, [Laughs] Raleigh is kind of central, and Greenville and Rocky Mount was on the east,
00:00:18.209 so we were from the west coast, right? So I'd be sitting there talking to Kevin, good guy, good friend, see him even when we were home, you know, when we're out in the same places.
00:00:26.297 I think we were in his hometown of Shelby at the skating rink. Sunday nights at the skating rink was a big thing back then, back in the 1980s.
00:00:33.787 When I got there he and I were just talking and he said, "Have you ever thought about getting involved with student politics? We need more African Americans in student politics."
00:00:41.725 I said, well, not really. I was a business major at the time and one of the issues that we had was the last student government had a-which it started off with a very good program of a loan program.
00:00:53.758 They had money they would give students, they would loan them a hundred dollars, and when you're a struggling college student a hundred dollars can go a long way; that's groceries, that's your gas money, phone bill, that kind of stuff.
00:01:07.996 People didn't have cell phones back then. [Laughs] But the good intentions weren't as well managed.
00:01:16.790 I think they got themselves in the hole, and being a business major, I mean, and then the work that I was doing with University Dining-see how this is tying in-
00:01:25.395 Kevin said we could really use somebody like that, so I said, you know what, maybe I will.
00:01:29.054 So I said I'll run for student body treasurer, and I did that and I got two people who were very-. Tim [13:51 Edlin] and Michelle Hewitt were my executive assistants
00:01:40.015 when I was student body treasurer and they really helped me create a good budget, put some teeth into the student government loan program.
00:01:47.926 We got back all the money that was defaulted and we actually worked with the state attorney general's office and got an agreement:
00:01:55.974 If we had people who had defaulted on loans to a public institution we can turn their names and social security numbers in and they would then put a lien on their tax return, whatever that tax return may be.
00:02:07.070 So we got all the money back, [Laughs]