In May 2021, rising senior Ky Freeman and became president of the IU student government. This election had some of the most diverse candidates in recent memory. Freeman will join student government as first openly gay Black male IU Student Government President.
Freeman viewed the office as inaccessible to students and felt they were not heard, which fueled his campaign and how he will act in office.
"To me, this office is a vessel," Freeman said. "A vessel for student voices. And as a candidate, it's important to use that vessel and do what we can to support students."
Freeman, who was previously president of the Black Student Union (BSU), stated that moving onto the campaign trail was significantly different than working as BSU president.
"My transition into student government wasn't anything easy," Freeman said. "And I think it was something that required some gumption and grit. All skills I learned in the Black Student Union. It was a different territory.
"For me, it was never about the power, but the genuine impact that was there, and you have to go up and still remain cordial and keep your composure as a leader at this time," Freeman said. "Keep it together to make your way through this."
According to Freeman, during the campaign season, his running mate and vice president Madeline Dederichs would often say that "the people at the end of this campaign will be completely different than the people starting it," and Freeman believes that's true.
"The campaign was something that had its pitfalls, but it opened my eyes to just how big the world was compared to my small sector of campus," Freeman said. "That small sector had big concepts that seemed small compared to the community I was networking with. But through the campaign, I was able to build genuine connections with peers.”
Freeman is excited to use the connections he built and begin serving the student population to the best of his abilities and recognizes that his experience as the BSU president—although very different from his new role—share some similarities.
"Nothing about this is uncharted territory," Freeman says. "If you have been a part of any student organization, it's very similar." Freeman notes that the BSU saved me with a "Blanket of love" and that he hopes to bring that experience with him in this new position.
"It's that radical love I will be bringing," Freeman said. "Love is tough. Love is hard. Love is easy. But I believe the end result of love is to see growth both for the people involved and the organization itself. If you love something, you're going to be more forthcoming and put more effort into it."
According to Freeman, he is focusing on two aspects: the transition back to in-person learning and mental health.
"We have to ask ourselves a lot of questions like should we be looking at continuing the hyperflexible model for our immunocompromised students? How can we make sure students are comfortable coming back to this?" Freeman said. "How can we support students' mental health, especially when there was a lot of mental fatigue for students who didn't get a break from that."
Freeman is excited to start having these conversations—and many more—with the university in Fall 2021 and begin implementing new changes.
"We have to be open to the idea of change and fall in love with the idea of change, and that is something I want people to really take away from everything," Freeman said. "Success comes from how you can adapt and learn from the circumstances around you. For me, I feel like I never lose because I'm always either learning or winning."