After last year’s Student Government Association elections uproar, this year’s SGA elections at Western Carolina University were considered tame.
Students were able to choose between current SGA Vice President Alecia Page and Residential Assistant Kyle Thomson for president while Ryan Hermance ran unopposed for vice president.
The scandal that rocked the elections last year was that the system for voting allowed alumni the option to vote. Unless a student is enrolled in a course at Western Carolina, they are, in theory, not allowed to vote in SGA or other WCU elections.
Last year, alumni were allowed and voted in the SGA elections because IT Services did not have a way to invalidate old 920 numbers. On the other side of the spectrum, incoming freshman would have also been allowed to vote because they also had operational 920 numbers.
This year, measures were taken by IT Services and Election Senator Austin Walker to ensure the voting process stayed true to the rules. Walker said that last semester IT Services started to take these measures to deter invalid votes.
“We just reinforced that we did not want alumni to be able to vote, and I was told that IT ran several tests to make sure that such a thing would not happen again. IT was very helpful throughout this whole process, and I would like to thank them for their diligence,” said Walker.
After the results of the election are confirmed to candidates, the candidates have until the end of the week to contest those results. No results were contested this year.
Alecia Page, the announced winner for SGA President, ran on the platform that emphasized the affordability of education, the reward of well performing students and the restructuring of SGA.
“I would like to extend a thank you to all students who voted in the SGA elections,” said Page. “I was proud to see such a high turnout, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have the opportunity to represent my peers. Now, get excited. We’ve got a fantastic year ahead of us.”
Page created a statewide program endorsed by North Carolina Governor Beverly Purdue, “Cuts Hurt.” “Cuts Hurt” is a program that allows North Carolina university students to film themselves talking about how the budget cuts and tuition increases have personally affected them. These videos are then sent to N.C. senators and representatives, who Page went to talk to about tuition increases in Washington D.C. over mid-term break. Her plan to help students with the affordability of a higher education is to take steps to give back to students the fees they pay for the operation of SGA. Page said she got the idea from UNC Chapel Hill’s current president, Mary Cooper. The plan is to take part of the stipends SGA gets and set those stipends aside for a monthly scholarship for WCU students.
Page also wants to restructure SGA. She stated that as of right now the Judicial Branch of SGA only serves as a traffic court for students, so the SGA senate goes relatively unchecked. Her plan is to restructure the SGA branches to allow a better checks and balances between the branches. She also is advocating for more senate positions. Currently there are 13 members in the senate, and she said that most UNC System universities have senates that represent .05 percent of the student body. If Western Carolina University’s student body was to be represented with that percentage, the senate would need 50 members.
Page summarized her platform as wanting to give back to the students of WCU by making sure their education is affordable and making sure WCU’s SGA is working at its most effective level. Page recently gave up her Teaching Fellows scholarship and switched her major in order to ensure she would have the time to work at WCU’s SGA President.
Ryan Hermance was the winner of the SGA Vice President elections.
“I feel honored that the students would elect me to be representing them as their vice president next year,” said Hermance. “I plan on serving to the best of my capabilities and ensure that SGA next year represents the students as well as being the voice of the student body.”
Hermance ran unopposed, and is currently the Senator for Service Learning on WCU’s SGA Senate. This past year Hermance helped create a course, ASI 293, to teach WCU students about global poverty, and he created the Service Corps, a student organization under SGA that allows WCU students the chance to give back to Western’s community through service.
Hermance’s echoes Page’s platform to increase the senate’s numbers to ensure WCU students are being fairly represented. He also said that his big concern is to make sure WCU’s SGA is working as effectively as possible to hear the concerns of WCU’s students and working towards solutions that address those concerns.
Current SGA President T.J. Eaves has worked this year to make WCU’s SGA more visible to the student body. Many students at WCU have come to recognize SGA’s function and desire to hearing concerns of the student body here at WCU through measures like WheeListen.wordpress.com, a site created where students could go to voice their questions, comments or concerns about WCU. Eaves also worked hard to hear student’s concerns about tuition and fees increases. Eaves held forums where students could address increase proposals, and he took that feedback to upper administration at WCU.
Currently, not all WCU SGA Senate positions have been filled, and students can inquire about these positions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.