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Monday. August 24,.1981The Daily Tar Hcel9B
Past student body presidents reflect b
By ANN PETERS
DTH Staff Writer
Tar Heels are known for their tradition and
ability to lead the pack. Their leaders usually
take great pride in the accomplishments of
All types of images come to mind when-,
one thinks of the UNC student body
president the Student Government leader
for UNCs nearly 20,000 students. Past'
presidents seem to have enjoyed time at
Carolina. Many even return to Chapel Hill.
And for some reason, student body
presidents always seem to know where other
presidents are and what they are doing.
Bill Moss, who was elected student body
president in 1977, said there was a myth
about student body presidents that after
graduation, they always go into law school.
But, he said, he sampled a few different areas
before finally coming back to law school at
Moss traveled in England and Scotland
before moving to New York City. He then
worked in Spartanburg, S.C., and within a
few months moved back to New York.
Finally the lights of Hollywood attracted
Moss and he began to write screen plays on
evenings and weekends with a friend. At the
end of 1979 they moved out to California.
But after about nine months he became
homesick and returned to North Carolina." 4 1
VI always had it pretty much in the back of
my mind that I'd come back and probably go
to law school," Moss said last week.
He said he was very interested in Student
Government when he came to Carolina but
was much less interested in academia.
"I became involved with the Media
Board," he said. "One thing lead to another
and I became more and more involved.
"The one thing that is constant (in Student
Government) is a genuine commitment to do
the job. (The University) is quite a political
microcosm. It takes a lot of dedication."
Interesting episodes surround past
presidents. Moss told a story about one
Wednesday evening at a jazz concert in the
Pit. Moss said he looked to his right and
struck up a conversation with a young man
from High Point. He invited the soon-to-be
freshman up- to the Student Government
offices and invited him to get involved with
Student Government. The freshman was Bob
Saunders, who was elected student body
president in 1980.
But before Saunders came, Jim Phillips, ,t
president the year after Moss, v , ;
"It almost seems like it's been a long time
now," Phillips said recently of his term as
student body president.
Phillips first came to Carolina in 1975.
That year the student treasurer cut off funds
to The Daily Tar Heel and the Black Student
Movement, moves that contributed to
student government's unpopularity.
"Student Government really had a bad
image," he said.
Phillips had been involved in politics for
most of his life. During the summer of his
early years at Carolina, , he worked in
Washington, D.C., for Sen. Robert Morgan.
By his junior year he said he had decided that
if Student Government was going to change,
other people had to get involved.
Phillips described himself as an unknown
when he ran for president. He finished first
during the first election against six other
candidates and eventually won in the runoff.
"We were able to get the people who were
interested involved," he said. "There is
always something for students to do."
After graduation, Phillips worked in the
office of Gov. .Jim Hunt as appointments
secretary, recommending appointments to
various boards and commissions, including
the UNC Board of Trustees. Since January of
this year, Phillips has .worked as the
Governor's legislative liaison and lobbied for
many of Hunt's proposals. Now Phillips is
studying law at Wake Forest University.
"I have always had an interest in politics
and government," he said. "I think I'll
klwaysWihvlvWOriceou get a taste of it
and you enjoy it, it's hard to stop."
One of Phillips' major concerns about
Student Government is that it will continue
to be an effective voice of students and that
the administration will continue to recognize
Student Government as a responsible
"Once you're student body, president, you
continue to have an interest," he said. "I've
been real pleased with the way things have
gone. We made Student Government
respectable. We made it more student-service
"The main thing Student Government
should do is represent students," Phillips
said. "It has to take student, concerns and
fight for them."
J.B. Kelly said he held the same concerns
about Student Government and recognized
its needs to be an effective voice of the
students. He was elected student body
president in 1979. Kelly said that as a
freshman he saw a number of problems on
campus and. became interested in Student
"You encounter a lot of things that can be
bettered," he said. "You feel more can
always be done. Student Government is
known to do a competent job by the students
and the administration."
. Aside from Kelly's initiation of Action
Line and his ability to shift Student
Government into a more service-oriented
organization, one of the things he is best
remembered for is playing his kazoo.
Kelly said he came up with the idea of
distributing kazoos at sporting events at a
Carolina Annual Giving meeting. So at the
last basketball game of the season in 1979,
Tar Heel fans were armed with kazoos.- He
later presented Bob Saunders with one when
hejsfficially handed over the office.
It might have been easier for Kelly ana
other presidents if they could concentrate on
being president for the year without having
the responsibilities of a student, Kelly said.
But in order to serve the students, one must
be a student.
"You have to participate first-hand,
otherwise, you're not really going to be able
to represent the students and understand
Kelly said that although the office of
student body president took an enormous
amount of time, he was fortunate to become
involved, especially because he worked with
the Chancellor's Selection Committee after
Chancellor Ferebee Taylor retired in 1979.
"I never had any doubt that when I ran I
was committing myself," he said.
"Everything else was secondary to me."
As with other presidents, Kelly is intrigued
by politics. He said he believed that there were
positive aspects that good representation can
bring to a community, including innovation
Although Kelly graduated in 1980, he has
left UNC with various memorabilia. In the
Student Government office in Suite C
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remains his clock and a hole in the wall where
he used to hit his chair. On a more serious
note, Kelly said he believed he had also left
behind a reputable tradition for other
"The thing I left behind to other student
body presidents is an attempt by Student
Government to become recognized on
campus and also in the eyes of the
administration as a confident and competent
(student representative)," he said.
And in the tradition of past student body
presidents, from 1979 until 1980, Bob
Saunders continued to improve the image of
Saunders said he had always been active in
politics on the local, state and national levels.
In high school he worked for Jimmy Carter
and also was a student representative on a
citizens' advisory committee. At Carolina,
Saunders became involved with the North
Carolina Student Legislature and Student
"They really had nothing for me to do (in
Student Government) so I became a glorified
gopher'," Saunders said.
But by the end- of the fall he became
involved with the Elections Board. After a
strange turn of events and numerous
resignations by other board members,
Saunders became chairperson just a few
weeks before elections.
From there; Saunders became campus
affairs coordinator during Jim Phillips'
administration. He worked . with food
service, Student Stores, financial aid and
with other campus organizations.
Saunders also was the Chancellor's
Committee Coordinator for J.B. Kelley.
"This was really my spring training to
familiarize myself with these issues and it
proved helpful the year I was president."
Saunders said if he could give some advice
to new students it would be to not commit
themselves to one organization the first year.
"The varied activities that are here don't
exist in high school," he said. "Don't major
in extracurricular activities but don't be
scared to get involved. Think of it as a nice
sampler of different activities."
And after turning his presidential duties
over to Scott Norberg for this year, Saunders
plans to spend an extra year at Carolina
writing an honors paper in economics,
studying for his Law School Admissions Test
and Graduate Record Examinations and
enjoying Carolina living. He said he hoped to
become an 'economist with a legal
background." Politics may take a back seat.
"Given my track record, it looks like I'd
be active. But I've usually worked behind the
scenes. A lot has to do with luck, especially in
my case, and you just can't plan for it."
Since Saunders has witnessed the
administrations of Moss, Phillips, Kelly,
Norberg and his own, he said he has seen a
change in Student Government.
"My freshman and sophomore years were a
time when credibility was being restored.
Student Government became most effective
on the local level. Student Government is
most effective when its energies are best
directed on the University, the town and then
onto the state and national level."
Saunders said that one of the advantages
for the more recent administrators is that
each administration has built upon the
accomplishments of the previous one.
Moss, Phillips, Kelly and Saunders all
realize that today, somewhere at UNC, waits
a freshman who, like past presidents, shows
an interest in Student Government and who
may have his or her eyes on becoming student
body president three years away. :J
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