Emilio Vicente, a gay illegal immigrant from Guatemala who is campaigning to become the student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, failed to win this week’s election outright.
Exactly 5,475 students (out of over 29,000) voted in the election. Vicente received 41.08 percent of the vote—the highest single percentage but not a majority. Consequently, there will be a runoff on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
The other candidate in the runoff is U.S. citizen Andrew Powell.
Vicente certainly has a more unique back story than Powell, as Campus Reform explains.
He came to America when he was six-years-old with his parents, who entered the country illegally.
Vicente has received enthusiastic support from a number of campus factions. Last month, even actress Eva Longoria urged UNC students to vote for him via Twitter.
— Eva Longoria (@EvaLongoria) January 29, 2014
It’s not abundantly clear why Longoria has taken such a great interest in a student council race at North Carolina’s flagship taxpayer-funded university.
The “Desperate Housewives” thespian doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the University of North Carolina. She is a native of Corpus Christi, Texas. She has degrees from two different colleges: Texas A&M University–Kingsville and California State University, Northridge.
However, Longoria is active in politics and philanthropy related the plight of the many thousands of children of migrant farm workers in the U.S.
She also has a master’s degree in Chicano studies.
The editor of the conservative-slanted Carolina Review, Ben Smith, told Campus Reform that “the majority of campus has no problem” with Vicente’s status as an illegal alien.
Vicente’s platform promises to “continue to support advocacy for undocumented students to have in-state tuition”—a policy public universities in many states are adopting.
It’s not clear how the student council would affect this state and federal law either way.
Other aspects of Vicente’s program include battling sexual assault and supporting the interests of UNC students within the larger UNC system, according to The Daily Tar Heel.
Powell, Vicente’s opponent, wants to do what the student government can to address perpetually rising tuition and fees, according to an interview with the Carolina Review. Like Vicente, he also wants student government to be more active against sexual assault.
Powell’s platform also addresses more mundane local concerns that affect students’ lives.
“I believe that I can help with town relations,” he said, for example. “The town ordinance that only allows for four people to live together is ridiculous, and I intend to work towards changing that.”