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Friday, November 16, 2018

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President-elect Barrett hopes to be voice for working class students


Cameron Barrett speaking to Students Unite shortly after his runoff victory. | Dana C. Jones/The Cougar

Cameron Barrett speaking to Students Unite shortly after his runoff victory. | Dana C. Jones/The Cougar

With a little more than a week left before he begins a term as president of the Student Government Association, president-elect Cameron Barrett is also wrapping up his first master’s degree in economics. The 21-year-old from New Caney will enter his second master’s program in finance this fall.

Barrett defeated current president Winni Zhang in a runoff on March 8, earning 239 more votes than the incumbent. Now, Barrett is in the thick of initial planning for the next administration, with plans to create a textbook exchange service and rewrite the student government bylaws.

“I hope that next year, at the end of the year,  we really did make a lot of change in regards to campus poverty,” Barrett said. “No matter what happens, I’ll be glad to say that in the last year, working class students, no matter what we’ve actually done, had a voice at the top of SGA.”

He will no longer be a full time student when he enters his finance master’s program this fall, hoping to graduate in two to three years. Barrett received his bachelor’s degree at 20. He didn’t want to enter the workforce so young and decided to go for his master’s.

As a working student himself, tutoring UH athletes, but hopes his changes can bring a lasting impact to SGA to continue having working student voices.

“I hope I can say the average students life is a little better,” after leaving office, Barrett said. “It’s rare that an SGA has big, sweeping impact.”

Growing up with grandma

Every day, Barrett commutes to UH from his home in New Caney — about 35 miles north on Interstate 69 — where he lives with his grandmother. He shifts between his three main hats throughout the week: finishing up his first master’s program, tutoring UH athletes in math, and acting in his current role as a graduate-at-large senator in student government.

Barrett lived with his mom in Virginia for a few years before returning to New Caney when mother got divorced. In seventh grade, he moved in with his grandmother.

“My mom was always struggled with her mental health and like a lot of stuff,” Barrett said. “My grandma is a better parent for me.”

Living with his grandma is a lot less stressful, Barrett said. He still keeps in regular contact with his mother. He said he has less frequent contact with his dad, for whom Barrett said parenting “is not No. 1 on his priority list.”

At this point, living with his grandma is a lot like being roommates, Barrett said.

Finding a running mate

Barrett asked a few students to run with him as vice president. His pick in the end, integrated communications junior Davis Darusman, joined student government in late November.

Darusman only agreed when Barrett said he could have input on Students Unite’s platform.

“I barely knew Davis. We had helped each other in REDvolution’s campaign last year,” Barrett said. “If I could do it all over again, I would have asked him in September.”

Darusman wanted to include campus safety in the platform, which originally did not interest  Barrett. He agreed to add it anyway, and the running mates plan to help each other with their main initiatives.

Barrett said he wants his administration to rewrite the student government bylaws, the election code and the SGA constitution through the summer and introduce big initiatives and University-wide bills in the fall. 

 

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