Leading with purpose

Campbell's first black SGA president advocates diversity, positive change

The very idea didn’t occur to Brendi Bluitt until well after she decided to run for Student Government Association president toward the end of her junior year. Not until a friend who was campaigning for her half-jokingly suggested they tell voters and supporters to “be a part of history.”

Then Bluitt wondered. Had there been a black student body president in the past 50 years since Campbell enrolled its first black student in 1968? If elected, would Bluitt, indeed, make history? She was, and she did.

It’s a turn of events that has instilled a new sense of responsibility and appreciation in the Greensboro communications studies major. She believes her win was an important step forward for Campbell, a school she says has become more noticeably diverse in just her short time here. She wrote a paper recently for qualitative research on how black students perceive the racial climate at Campbell, and the majority of her subjects agreed with her assessment.

“Especially the seniors I talked to. They’ve seen positive change in just four years,” she says. “One guy from the football team admitted there wasn’t a ton of diversity when he first started playing. He says even in football, we’re more diverse. And that’s important.”

Asked to elaborate on why it’s important, Bluitt is blunt.  “It’s 2018,” she says. “And there are still a lot of problems in our country right now [racially]. But when you can see marked improvement in diversity in rural areas like Harnett County, you can hope that people who might be a little more close-minded will benefit from being exposed to people of other races and cultures. It makes you more well-rounded.”

If the campus has changed in her time here, Bluitt herself has changed even more. She admits to being shy and more of an introvert as a freshman and only got involved in SGA as a sophomore because a close friend suggested she’d be “good at it” (Bluitt was once part of a protest in high school over a dress code they believed was unfair to women). So she joined, and she liked it. Her time in the organization has led her to change her major from biology and possibly pursue a career in government or public policy.

“SGA has given me confidence,” she says. “I can actually get up and talk in front of people now.”

She talked to a lot of students as she campaigned with running mate Erin Scott. A lot of students have requested they work toward more dining options (like a Panera Bread) and getting more small tables or seating areas in the Academic Circle for gorgeous days in late April as finals approach.

She ran on a campaign to help make the transition from high school to college and the transition for transfer students easier. Campus WiFi also gets brought up a lot.

“We all just want to see Campbell change for the better,” she says. “I’m going to do what I can to make that happen.”