Nyah Smith and Jules Jefferson have been elected Miami University’s Student Body President (SBP) and Vice President for the 2023-2024 academic year, making Miami history as the first elected all-Black ticket.
The pair won against Cameron Tiefenthaler and Grace Payne with 68% of the vote. After the announcement, Smith and Jefferson were applauded by friends and supporters in Armstrong Student Center. The two said they were at a loss for words.
“Grateful. Honored,” Smith said.
“Blessed,” Jefferson interjected.
Several of Jefferson’s family members attended Miami, including her mother, sister and cousin. But as a Black, female biochemistry and nutrition double major, Jefferson said the idea of being elected Vice President was wild. Smith agreed and said she was told by a college planner in high school to expect a denial letter from Miami.
Now, the two sit as Miami’s president and vice president elect.
Smith said the support from student organizations around campus was overwhelming, with 18 total endorsements including those from the Asian American Association, The Miami Student and Black Student Action Association.
“As a SEAL [Student Engagement and Leadership], that just meant the world to me because I’ve spent my whole time at Miami loving student organizations,” Smith said. “ To get that support back means a lot to me.”
Smith and Jefferson’s campaign was based on three pillars: sustainability and infrastructure, unity and student empowerment.
The pair also focused on reaching out to groups that weren’t normally targeted by the Associate Student Government (ASG), such as international students and athletes. In their campaign video, the pair had a sign language interpreter and various foreign languages available — Vietnamese, Russian, Italian, Spanish and Fulani — to remain accessible.
“Everyone deserves to have a seat at the table, and I think that’s what we’ve been trying to say for the past three weeks,” Smith said.
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Looking back on the last several weeks, Smith said she was especially proud of their commitment to a natural-hair campaign.
“Going to a PWI [predominately white institution] as a Black woman is hard,” Smith said. “And so, to have a big dream of running for Student Body President and Vice President, we did it. Natural and all.”
After returning from spring break, Smith and Jefferson are excited to begin working and collaborating with administration and students across campus and to begin “building the table,” which was outlined in their campaign.
The pair hopes to create a semesterly campus-wide service project, an ASG open forum, a career clothing closet and green event funds and resources. Smith and Jefferson also plan on implementing semesterly mental health screenings and community service opportunities to help students pay off parking tickets.
“I’m excited to have more voices at the table because I think that’s possible,” Smith said. “I know that’s possible. I’m excited to represent the various communities at Miami. I’m excited to bridge the gap between resources and to provide more resources for students because I think that’s one of the things that we really focused on.”
For now, Smith and Jefferson said they appreciate the voters, and hope to see even more students vote in future elections.
“Thank you to the voters,” Smith said with Jefferson nodding in agreement.