PROVO, Utah – The BYU student body will elect its new BYUSA President on March 10 and 11, and the race consists of five male students: Taggart Durrant, Austin Hammatt, Colin Ross, Paul Victor and Brandyn Young.
The voting will be done online through the BYUSA voting website. Each candidate has rolled out a different presidential theme and is using social media to drive their campaigns.
Durrant is a junior studying applied physics. His campaign is “Find your calling, find your voice.” He said the campaign is broken down into two parts.
The purpose of the “find your calling” portion of the campaign is to help students find their passion on campus. “We want to create opportunities for people who don’t feel like they have a calling or place at BYU,” he said.
The purpose of “find your voice” is to expand the student voice and to work with other departments on campus to further discover the needs of the students and how BYUSA can help them, Durrant said.
Having served on BYUSA’s Student Voice committee for over a year, Durrant decided to run for BYUSA President. “I never thought from the get-go that I wanted to be student body president. I wanted to get involved and make a positive impact while I was here,” he said.
He said he is very passionate about the work that went into building the Student Voice organization. He loved the opportunity it gave him to work in leadership and with teams. The chance to run for BYUSA president came “naturally” in that he had a lot of support encouraging him to run.
Durrant said he wants to aid in the discussion of social issues by listening to what students have to say. “I’m not running for president for my voice to be heard, I want to hear the voice of the students and help them connect with administration and faculty so that they can share their views and opinions.”
Hammatt is a junior psychology major whose campaign focuses on being loved and understood. He wants his campaign to push that in order to understand someone, students have to love.
“The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy. When we show love, that is one way to take care of that,” he said.
In addition to his “show love” campaign, he said he wants to implement bi-monthly cultural highlights, like BYUSA’s current PEN Talks series. He wants to expand on the groundwork the series has already laid by highlighting different cultural groups through social media.
Hammatt said he fully loves people and his goal is to bring cultures together to further diversity and inclusion. He believes everyone can bring something to the table.
“I don’t want people to vote for me, I want people to vote for the idea of understanding,” he said.
Ross said he has wanted to run for BYUSA President since he was in high school. He has been involved with BYUSA since his freshman year and also started the BYU Electronic Dance Music Club.
His campaign “Get Connected” has three main parts: Get connected with other people, on-campus resources, and one’s self. “I think if any student gets involved with one of those three things, or all three, that’s where they’re going to feel connected to campus,” Ross said.
Ross was first shot into the Provo “limelight” in 2018 when he was the face of the local reality show “Provo’s Most Eligible,” a play off of ABC’s “The Bachelor.”
He said he wanted people to know he isn’t in the race for publicity. “I want them to see me as someone who cares about the school and who cares about them.”
Ross praised the show in that it helped him to come out of his shell and meet new people. It also taught him organization and communication skills.
In regards to helping out with current social issues on campus, Ross said he is currently enrolled in a class regarding diversity and inclusion. “Before we can do anything, we have to learn more and educate ourselves.”
Ross said he has enjoyed the campaign process, as he’s had the opportunity to meet with different groups and hear what other people want and need.
Victor is a business strategy junior who has been involved in BYUSA since his freshman year.
His campaign, “No Strangers Among Us,” focuses on emphasizing diversity and inclusion leadership opportunities, promoting mental health awareness and empowering students to be aware of and leverage their resources.
“If I was elected president I would make mental health, diversity and having a platform for underrepresented groups on campus a priority throughout my campaign,” Victor said.
Being of Indian descent, Victor is the only candidate of color. He said he hopes that simply running will offer a symbol of hope to other students of color who may want to run for the position in the future. “The fact that I’m doing this might change the atmosphere.”
He said he would be okay not putting a potential BYUSA President title on his resume, as that’s not what it’s about for him. “I really care about people and their stories.”
What really sets him apart is his experiences, motive and desire, he said.
Young is majoring in neuroscience and is the only senior among the group. He too has been involved with BYUSA since his freshman year. His campaign is “BY for U” which will center on creating, connecting and inspiring students.
Young said he chose to run for BYUSA President because he wants to be a voice of validation for students.
He said he wants to lend a hand and let students know they belong if they feel they are on the outskirts of BYU.
One of Young’s goals is to create what he calls “BYUnify Booths” to solicit feedback about students’ experiences.
“We will take all of that feedback to the BYUSA areas and incorporate it into events, discuss it in those biweekly meetings with departments across campus, and create projects in BYUSA Council that meet those needs students present,” he said.
Young said he has read several books that highlight the experiences of different individuals in regard to current social issues. He has also been meeting with students in minority groups, the university chaplain and university stakeholders to better create a more accepting and loving campus community.
“There is a lot of diversity on campus; diversity can be a catalyst for unity rather than a deterrent. I love embracing the culture of all groups across campus so that we become one group, united by Jesus Christ,” Young said.
Students can visit the BYUSA website for information on how to get involved with clubs and service opportunities, as well as vote for those running for BYUSA office.