Meet the candidates for 2021-2022 SGA President and Vice President

As WCU’s Student Government Association quickly approaches a new administration, it is important to know who is running, what they stand for and how they plan to help serve the student body. TWC contacted the candidates via email, asking questions about the issues they feel are the most important on campus.

Presidential Candidates

Rebecca Hart


TWC: Describe the platform you are running on and why you are running on that platform.

Hart: I have several different initiatives encompassed within my platform – a student government for the students, inclusive housing for LGBTQ+ students, a sustainability director on SGA’s executive branch, no classes on Election Day, increased graduate and professional student representation, and more. All of which can be seen in more detail on my website.

I have already started on many of these initiatives within my past and current roles within the Student Government Association and the UNC Association of Student Governments. I am running on this platform to ensure that these initiatives happen. My slogan is Action over Advocacy because I feel that so often SGA talks about what they want to do but we fail to do so. A vote for me is a vote for a candidate with the experience and passion to get the job done.

TWC: What do you think is the most important issue at WCU and why?

Hart: There are several pressing issues at Western Carolina University that I hope to address within my platform. However, the most important issue going into the next academic year is the transition back to normal operations.  COVID-19 has left a lasting impact on not just our university but the world. Students who have just now gotten used to online classes on Blackboard will have to adjust back to in-person classes while learning how to use Canvas. In addition, mental health and health services, in general, will need to remain a top priority. Students will continue to need support mentally, but some of whom have had COVID-19 may now have lasting health problems as a result. And within the Student Government Association, I hope to expand the regulations for supplemental funding for organizations to request money for events and travel as they did prior to COVID-19.

For more information about the transition from Blackboard to Canvas, click here.

TWC: What is the first initiative that you want to establish if elected and why?

Hart: The addition of a sustainability director to the executive branch can easily be done by confirmation from the Senate. So, instead, I will highlight my work on inclusive housing for the LGBTQ+ community. This was something I began my first year here as a Senator in partnership with the Sexual and Gender Alliance organization and Residential Living. We requested a rainbow hall, a living-learning community focused on the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and how to advocate for that community, and the addition of this question to the random roommate survey – “Would you like to room with a member of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally?”. You can see the legislation I wrote concerning these projects here.

These ideas were agreed upon by Residential Living but have not come to fruition due to the shifted focus on the construction of Allen, removal of Scott and Walker, and COVID-19. As we transition back to normal operations and as Student Body President, I want to refocus on those projects to ensure their completion. Our LGBTQ+ students deserve to live in an environment without fear of judgment.

Cameron Herte


TWC: Describe the platform that you are running on and why you are running on that platform.

Herte: My platform is about unity. We have seen so much division in our country recently with anything from politics, racism, sexism, and so many other instances where we see ourselves becoming more distant. Instead, what we need to be doing is bringing everyone together and celebrate our differences. We all know that as Catamounts, we will honor diversity and celebrate individual differences, I will honor the community creed each and everyday. The first step in healing our country is healing our university.

TWC: What do you think is the most important issue at WCU and why?

Herte: The number one issue that I believe needs to be addressed on campus is underrepresentation.  As an RA, I have sat down with fellow students and have helped them through tough situations and have truly tried to be there for them in their time of need. This has been the most rewarding part of my job as an RA. Talking to people about the problems that they face on campus will ensure that they will be represented to the highest degree possible while I am SGA President.

TWC: What is the first initiative that you want to accomplish and why? 

Herte: One of my first initiatives as Student Body President would be to put together a cabinet that consists of students with diverse backgrounds and ideas. I will have a Director of Diversity and Inclusive excellence that will help me best serve the students of WCU that feel left behind, unappreciated, and underrepresented. I will also have an open-door policy where any students can come and talk to me about any issue that they have on campus and any ideas about how I can best serve the students at this great university and not let that situation happen to another student.

Jed Lovingood


TWC: Describe the platform you are running on and why you are running on that platform.

Lovingood: The platform that I am running on becoming the next president of SGA is listening to the underrated students,  fraternities and sororities, athletes, and students with a disability to have a more extraordinary voice on campus.

TWC: What do you think is the most important issue at WCU and why?

Lovingood: The most important issue here at Western Carolina is listening to the students’ needs and wants. As I have mentioned, students don’t have a say on campus, so I want to focus on the underrated students, students with a disability, athletes, fraternities, and sororities. Also, I am primarily focusing on bringing more diversity here in Western Carolina too.

TWC: What is the first initiative that you want to accomplish and why? 

Lovingood: The first initiative that I will establish when I get elected is creating committees for the underrated students, students with a disability, fraternity and sorority, and athletes, especially the RA’s as well. All of these groups that I have stated can have a significant impact on their peers and the whole school.

Aaron Speyer


TWC: Describe the platform you are running on and why you are running on that platform.

Speyer: I am running for Student Body President because I believe that I and the dedicated student leaders of our university can work together to improve our campus and leave behind a legacy for future students to build on. In my time here, I have learned so much about our university, its departments, and about the various groups of students that call Western Carolina University home. Therefore, my platform consists of three (3) focuses that I believe are fundamental to ensure the continued growth of our community: Community Engagement, Health and Safety, and Academic Success.

Regarding Community Engagement, I want to ensure a continued transparency between the student body and administration, continued community involvement both in the campus and the regional community, and work together with students, administration, and campus departments/organizations to identify and eliminate racial prejudices, bigotry, inequality, and any other forms of injustice in our community. I believe that a more unified community can be achieved through proactive programming, having open conversations with various student leaders and administrators on these topics, and keeping communication going with the multitude of Recognized Student Organizations that represent students of all backgrounds.

As for Health and Safety, I hope to work with administration to improve lighting in places that are relatively dark on campus. A major focus of this platform pillar is mental health, and as Student Body President I will work with the WCU Health Services and the Counseling & Psychological Services departments to communicate student needs and identify better ways of providing information and services to students. I believe SGA can also work to host and support related programming and events, to help all Catamounts better understand mental health and the importance of this topic. I also want to work with Campus Dining to identify healthier food options and smart eating initiatives for our students.

Lastly, I want to ensure the academic success of my fellow peers by working with students and administration to assist students in their time here as they work to excel in their classes and graduate from WCU. One concern that I know many students have as we continue dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is ensuring communication with professors of in-person and online course modalities. The Student Government Association needs to need to help provide this student insight by gathering and providing feedback to administration. I also want to analyze and improve student worker wages and experiences across WCU. As students, we should not be stressing over our work experiences or struggling to make ends meet, and it is important to communicate with on-campus employers if these needs are not being met. We will also work to identify ways to help students with financial struggles – especially those who come from low-income backgrounds.

Through these efforts, I aim to ensure that if elected President, our administration has set and accomplished goals to leave behind a greater Catamount community and an SGA legacy for future administrations to build upon.

TWC: What do you think is the most important issue at WCU and why?

We need to ensure that students feel that they belong and are safe at WCU – this is vital for students to succeed in their time here. In order to accomplish this, I am calling on all students to work together, as this is not something one student can do alone, nor is it contingent on the election. This is a fundamental basis for a unified community that needs to be addressed and focused on in any administration. As a student here at Western, I’ve had to find my group of like-minded friends here to have a feeling of belonging, and that feeling for other students may be found in Greek Life like it was for me, or it can be found in an RSO, a group of friends that like to play soccer on the weekends, or as a student-worker in a campus department. Every student finds their “group” differently than the next, and by truly focusing on engaging the student body, you can ensure that all students are able to get involved in one way or another. This is something I have learned in my time here, especially as a campus event programmer with Last Minute Productions. SGA needs to be out in the community, actively participating with campus departments and RSOs, to promote the feeling of community. The other side of this coin is identifying and speaking out against things that negatively impact the Catamount community and being proactive in the community. By educating students via programming and hosting conversations with various members of the community, we can help set a standard for what it truly means to be a Catamount. We can promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. I think this is definitely one of the most important issues at WCU, if not the most important.

TWC: What is the first initiative that you want to establish if elected and why?

Speyer: The Catamount Health initiative’s goal is to make sure that students are aware and provided with health and safety services and measures that can help them through their college experiences here at Western Carolina University, and making sure that WCU administration is aware of student needs and concerns. As Student Body Vice-President I have assembled a Health and Safety Committee that has helped tackle this priority as they have met with the Director of Health Services and they have co-hosted a virtual mental health event last Fall to talk about this issue with students and a speaker. As Student Body President, I hope to build upon this by implementing an SGA Director of Health and Safety to help accomplish various goals in this field. Factors such as student debt, the increasing cost of living, and worldly issues such as the ongoing pandemic can cause immense amounts of stress on students, and these stressors can impact a student’s performance in the classroom. We can combat these stressors through active and collaborative programming, campus safety walks, discussions around campus illumination and access to emergency beacons, and transparent discussions with related campus organizations and departments.

Vice Presidential Candidates

Simon Gugerli


TWC: Describe the platform you are running on and why you are running on that platform.

Gugerli: I am running on a platform to enact real change, by focusing on the health and safety of our student body. And by making sure that our underrepresented students are heard on campus as well as off. And finally, I want to make sure that our student body is aware of SGA, by hosting more in-person and virtual events such as tabling, giveaways, live streams, zoom Q&A’s as well as so much more!

I am running on this platform because of my background and my upbringing valuing the focus on making sure people are safe before focusing on the more complex issues. Then for the other part of my platform, I want to make sure that our institution serves as a beacon for other universities as a place where all students feel heard regardless of background. And lastly, I chose to bring more attention to SGA because of the conversations that I’ve had with students where several people thought we were more of a formality than an actual organization that advocates for the student body.

TWC: What do you think is the most important issue at WCU and why?

Gugerli: I think the most important issue is a lack of communication. A lot of students feel underrepresented by the University however the reality is, that the University is listening to them and incorporating some of their ideas. And being able to serve on Student Government has allowed me to see some of these ideas take place which is why I think a lot of students would support the University if they knew what was going on behind the scenes or if the students simply got more involved with Student Government/University. Therefore, I want to try and bridge the gap between students and the University.

TWC: What is the first initiative that you want to establish if elected and why?

Gugerli: My first initiative would be to organize a campus safety walk. I would work with the Health and Safety Committee and with a group of fellow students, where we would walk through the whole campus and identify any areas of improvement in terms of safety. For example, finding areas that require more blue emergency light buttons or areas where the sidewalk is completely destroyed and poses a current safety risk for our student body.

TWC: Why did you decide to run for VP and not President?

Gugerli: I decided to run for VP because I felt as though I could accomplish more work within Senate. Whilst President focuses more on inter-departmental work with organizations such as Faculty Senate, I would be allowed to work within the Legislative branch (where I started) and accomplish more effective change alongside my fellow Senators.

Hunter Osborne

TWC: Describe the platform you are running on and why you are running on that platform.

Osborne:My platform is Professional Development and Equal Opportunity. A common worry echoed among college students is a lack of career prospects after receiving their degrees. While WCU has useful tools through the Center for Career and Professional Development, an expansion may be necessary. I believe a very effective way to have students land the careers they want is to partner faculty and recruiters with our DegreePlus program, which teaches students crucial job skills. Doing so would be a great networking and resume-building opportunity for many, and students will learn essential life skills in the process. I would also like to see WCU provide individuals with greater means to afford their schooling. As not all students possess the same advantages, choosing to forgo higher education is an unfortunate financial decision for many, and NC Promise was a great first step in addressing that grim reality. However, I believe we must also provide more for our less privileged students through University Scholarships and more competitive wages. As someone who often works upwards of 25 hours per week between two positions, I recognize how difficult it can be to also fulfill academic and extracurricular obligations. If WCU were able to follow through with these additions, we could ease the financial burden placed on many of its students and allow them to prioritize their academics, letting them thrive in both school and future careers.

TWC: What do you think is the most important issue at WCU and why?

Osborne: I believe the most important issue shared among students surrounds housing. With many students competing over limited spots on campus, WCU still requires that students live on campus for two academic years. In recent years, this requirement has been waived, yet the policy still remains and increases competition for our students who thrive living on campus, while also slowing the growth of our community through the admission of new students.

TWC: What is the first initiative that you want to establish if elected and why?

Osborne:The first initiative I would like to implement is one promoting openness about SGA’s inner workings. Many students I have spoken to are not clear on what SGA does, and I think a great way to address this confusion is through social media. Through these platforms, we can offer students a detailed look at our internal operations and potentially cause many more to get involved with the Student Government Association.

TWC: Why did you decide to run for VP and not President? 

Osborne:While the President is SGA’s representative in speaking to administration, the Vice President is responsible in matters pertaining to a diverse SGA Senate, which represents the entire student body. Through our Senate Committees, our Senators specialize in areas such as Diversity and Inclusivity or Campus Dining. These committees are tasked with communicating with various groups on campus and are always looking for areas where we can improve. As Vice President, I would be able to oversee this process and ensure we listen to and represent the entire student body as best we can.

Susannah Lester


TWC: Describe the platform you are running on and why you are running on that platform.

Lester: The main goal of my platform is to help create a Senate that actively represents the student body. To do this I want to reach out to minority groups and provide a place for them that uplifts their voice and makes them heard. SGA is the bridge between the student body and administration and I want students to be aware that they can make a difference and be involved. Community is the second pillar of my platform. I want to foster a community that allows for student growth and encourages involvement with our organization. I also want to make SGA more open to students and be more transparent about what we do. My goal is to track and publicize what we are currently working on and have completed as well as live streaming and recording senate meetings. I also want more student involvement in our committees so we can hear their voices and get more feedback.

TWC: What do you think is the most important issue at WCU and why?

I think that the disconnect between administration and the student body is one of the most important issues. Because there is a weak bond between the two, it is much harder for students to have their voices heard. Student Government is a way for students and administration to form a bond and work together as well as be a resource for students to enact change.

TWC: What is the first initiative that you want to establish if elected and why?

Lester: The first initiative that I plan to accomplish is diversifying the Senate and to get more involvement. When applications open for SGA next fall I want to reach out to other organizations and departments to spread the word and get more students to join. Also, I want to promote the committees and gain members that are not a part of SGA. Our committees are where we create a large portion of what we do, and I want to make sure that we are reaching and helping the most people.

TWC: Why did you decide to run for VP and not President?

Lester: I decided to run for VP rather than President because I wanted to stay involved with Senate and help the student body from that position.

Important SGA dates:
  • Tuesday, March 9
    • Virtual VP Debate at 7 p.m. via Zoom.
  • Thursday, March 11
    • Virtual Presidential Debate at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom.
  • Sunday, March 14
    • Expense Reports due by 12 a.m.
    • Campaign ends at 5 p.m.
  • Monday, March 15
    • Voting opens via email at 12 a.m.
  •  Tuesday, March 16
    • Voting closes at 11:45 p.m.

For more information, contact SGA Elections Committee Chair Benjamin Tisinger at