George Mason University

News at Mason

They want Student Government to work—for everyone

October 23, 2019   /   by Damian Cristodero

Student Government President Camden Layton and Vice President Adia McLaughlin said their message to their fellow students is, "We're listening to you." Photo by Lathan Goumas.

Seniors Camden Layton and Adia McLaughlin know exactly how their time at George Mason University has helped them grow.

“Quiet” is how Layton remembered himself as a freshman from Horseheads, New York. McLaughlin, from Pinehurst, North Carolina, said it used to be that she was “always hesitant to go up and request something.”

Now?

“I’ve had multiple times this year when I’ve been like, ‘Let’s get it together, folks,’ ” Layton said.

Said McLaughlin: “If I see something being done wrong, I’m more likely to speak up about it.”

The changes have served them well as Layton, Mason’s Student Government president, and McLaughlin, the vice president, work their agenda of enhancing student engagement and ensuring all voices are heard.

Layton, a public administration major, and McLaughlin, a double major in communication and government and international politics, and a member of Mason’s Honors College, said it starts with an open door.

“We’re listening to you,” McLaughlin said of their shared philosophy. “We want to encourage people to have those crazy dreams and continue to push for them.”

When it comes to their education, Layton and McLaughlin have dreams of their own.

Layton said he has plans to pursue a master’s degree in education policy. Law school could also be in his future. Law school is definitely the next step for McLaughlin. Both said Mason has helped shape their plans and sharpened their skills.

Layton said he discovered Mason when he attended the Washington Journalism Media Conference, which the university hosts every summer on its Fairfax Campus. The conference annually welcomes student leaders from around the country as national youth correspondents.

McLaughlin said she came to Mason from eighth grade on in high school to compete in the Patriot Games debate competition.

Both said the diversity of the campus and its proximity to Washington, D.C., were major selling points.

“Being a government-centered person, being in a place with such diverse ideologies is so fun,” said Layton, who interned on Capitol Hill for New York Rep. Tom Reed (R). “There’s always going to be a conversation you can have with someone about something, and that’s awesome for me.”

McLaughlin, who interned on Capitol Hill for North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (R) and in the Peace Corps’ D.C. offices, said her time at Mason helped develop her networking skills and self-confidence.

“It’s helped me find my voice,” she said. “This is where I stand, and I need to be respected in this manner. Demanding that respect rather than asking for it, and knowing when it’s professional to do that.”

“They really want to see Student Government elevated to another level so that when students hear Student Government, they know this is a system that’s going to advocate for them,” said Ben Endres, assistant director of Student Involvement at Mason. “Both of them just really care about serving the student body and doing what’s best for Mason.”

As for programs they hope to implement on campus, Layton and McLaughlin said they preferred not to get into specifics.

“Not at the moment,” McLaughlin said. “But stay tuned.”