On Friday, March 6, rising senior Dawson Spencer was announced as Western Carolina University’s Student Body President-Elect for the 2020-2021 academic year. Spencer earned a total of 649 votes while opponent Tristan Benson acquired 406 during the March 2 and 3 election.
Spencer has always been involved with student government since he served on his local high school’s student council. During his time at Western Carolina, he has climbed the ranks from Senator to Pro Tempore to currently Vice President and President-Elect.
Spencer responded promptly to The Western Carolinian’s request for an interview.
What is the first initiative you want to establish as Student Body President?
If I was asked this a couple of weeks ago my answer would have been different but now after all that is happening within the UNC System, I would like to show transparency to Catamount Students currently they all feel abandoned, confused, or mistreated. It is key to know that most of the decisions that are being made come from the UNC System Administration and not WCU’s. Although no matter who is making the decisions it is SGA’s job to make sure the voice of students is being heard and that each student is aware of why the decisions are being made and what that means for them.
What are your internal and external goals for SGA as SBP?
A couple of internal things that I want to work on first is gathering the Cabinet for the 97th Session because the team that surrounds this administration will determine the success of the organization; which includes the creation of the Legislative Director position as promised in the campaign platform. Secondly, I would also like to create a new budget layout that is transparent and informative. Next, I would like to continue the current goal of SGAs of Transition Documents that are shared between each administration to help the organization grow over time. I would also like to see us continue the IGTV updates for the legislative as well as incorporating all branches of SGA in both the IGTV updates and the “Ask a Senator” sessions in the University Center. Lastly, a couple of external things that I would like to work on is first the Student Honor Memorial at Graduation; every year since I have been here, the Catamount family has experienced a loss of a fellow Catamount. I would like to pay tribute to those who lost their lives by having an empty chair with a purple gown where they would be sitting in alphabetical order at their intended graduation date. I understand that this seems very simple, and it is, but every student who attends WCU leaves an impact and friends behind, and seeing a gown in its rightful place shows that they will always be remembered, and that is a comforting embrace that a family will never forget. Secondly, I would like to see the Easter Break change a bit so students go home with the excitement of spending a long weekend at home, no matter their religion. Currently, our academic schedule says that we will be off the three days the week before Easter, which is great, but I would like to be off two days the week before Easter and then have Easter Monday off to allow those who go home and have a tradition of Easter Dinner to be able to stay and the head back to Western that Monday for classes to begin on Tuesday. I would also like to quickly address looking into getting an ROTC program as well as a WCU online yearbook.
After the impeachment hearing, what will you do to change the perception of your position and SGA as a whole?
I believe that the answer is simple. The first step no matter who is in office is treating others with respect; respect comes with integrity, honesty, loyalty, and accountability. These characteristics are exactly how SGA will be led internally and externally.
How will you spread awareness of SGA and make yourself more accessible to the student body?
Today word of mouth and social media is the best way to spread awareness of SGA but spreading the name isn’t good enough we need to be letting people know what we can do for them. I can share my email and phone number with every student but that still would not be good enough, SGA is a team effort and spreading the word about who is in SGA is key I am sure over a semester you are more than likely to cross path with someone that is in SGA without you even knowing about it.
What are your post-graduation plans?
Ever since I was a kid, I have known I wanted to be someone who helped others no matter what that meant for me, maybe becoming an EMT, lawyer, cop, politician, or joining the military. All I wanted was to help others that were at their roughest part of life and give them a helping hand. Ironically even after knowing the stigma that comes with being a lawyer and a politician, I am still excited to become one. I plan on graduating from Western Carolina University in 2021 and then enroll myself in the Masters in Public Administration (MPA) here at Western and then going straight into local politics to serve my community back in my hometown. My second path is applying for law school that is accredited by the U.S. Navy. At this point, I will also start the process of joining the Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps military lawyers to begin the long and competitive path to becoming a counselor for the Department of the Navy.
Spencer is currently majoring in criminal justice and political science with a minor leadership. During his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, going hiking, and playing ball with his dutch shepherd, Boone. He is also a photographer with his portfolio available for viewing on his website.