It’s been nearly 30 years since the University elected a black Student Government president.
Stewart Lockett is the third black SG president since the first black president, Kerry Pourciau, took office in 1972.
Of the previous 93 SG presidents, 83 were white men. Since 2009, 17 of the 20 SG presidents and vice presidents have been involved in Greek Life.
The first woman to become SG president was Evelyn Norman, who took unelected office after the current president stepped down to enlist in the military during the 1944-45 school year. Seven women have served as SG president since.
Lockett is not only excited for SG’s progression in diversity, but for the University’s progression across the board. He says this year’s freshman class is the most diverse yet.
“I think it’s a cultural shift,” Lockett said. “It’s a good progress for us and for Louisiana as a whole. It’s really significant for me because I think a lot of minority students now feel like they have a voice.”
Now that Lockett has officially started his 2018-19 service as SG president, he looks back on his trip to Budapest, Hungary when he decided to run for SG president.
Lockett recalls making phone calls and sending countless messages from across the world to fellow University students, laying the groundwork for his campaign and trying to find a running mate. He did all of these things while completing his medical fellowship in Budapest to continue his trajectory into medical school after graduation.
“If you would’ve asked me in high school, ‘Would you do student government in college?’ I would’ve said no,” Lockett said. “I have a different story because some people say, ‘Oh, I’ve always wanted to do politics. My parents did it.’ Mine is just that I really like to serve, and I really like LSU. That combination found me being here.”
Once he put himself out there and began participating in events and programs, the leaders around campus recognized his potential and began cultivating it.
Lockett specifically expressed his appreciation of his role-models during his time at the University, former LSU SG president Zack Faircloth and vice president Lindsey Landry, who both served in the 2016-17 school year. They included Lockett on their ticket and allowed him to gain more experience serving in SG.
“One thing about me is that I really like to observe and soak things in,” Lockett said. “I participated, [but] was also a fly on the wall. I wanted to see how they presented information, how they planned [and] how they organized.”
By the summer of 2017, Lockett was ready to enter his junior year and continue serving LSU, but did not realize how big his year could be.
“Before I even thought about running, people were coming up to me and saying, ‘If you do it, I’m behind you,” Lockett said.
It did not take long for Lockett to decide on his running mate and current SG vice president: mass communication senior Rachel Campbel. He says Campbell complements him well and has been a good friend since their freshman year at the University. They share similar goals and see things the same way.
“Me and Rachel are really close,” Lockett said. “We have a good, long-standing relationship. For the first two weeks [of service] without an executive staff, it was me and Rachel against the world, but it has done nothing more than help us grow closer together.”
Lockett and Campbell have spent much of the first weeks in office interviewing and hiring 60 executive staff positions from a pool of around 80 candidates. With these executive positions now filled and ready to work, the president believes SG is ready to soar.
Some of the biggest early initiatives Lockett is spearheading during his term include: providing LSU’s WIFI “eduroam” to the International Cultural Center and the Greek Houses on campus and launching the “Degree Works” auditing program, which would make the degree audit for each student much easier to read and navigate, including a “what if” feature.
Lockett and Campbell are meeting with the Student Tech Fee Committee soon to discuss details on the WIFI initiative. They also met with University IT services over the summer to push forward the “Degree Works” initiative, which will be included in a full revamp of the University’s online services in 2020.
When talking about his future in politics, Lockett was doubtful, as he sets his sights on attending LSU medical school. However, the New Iberia native did not hold back on the pride he has for Louisiana and still wants to publicly serve in improving the state.
“We have a lot of history and culture that makes us really good and so unique,” Lockett said. “But we have a lot of progress that we have to make for it to be the best state. Louisiana is far behind the curve in higher education, taxes, on the health spectrum, and really everything. I would like to see us grow.”