Originally published in The Western Carolina Journalist.
Story co-produced with Savanna Tenenoff
SGA at WCU has officially announced the candidates who are campaigning for the 2022 elections, which will serve the student body during the 2022 to 2023 academic year.
Candidates are campaigning Feb. 21 through March 1, SGA announced via an Instagram post. Students will only be able to vote for their representatives Feb. 28 and March 1 on engage.wcu.edu.
There are 41 candidates for senator, two candidates for vice president, and only one candidate for president.
All SGA positions require a 2.5 GPA and no disciplinary infractions. The vice president and president positions also require that candidates are current SGA members. For more information on the election process, what the positions do, and the requirements for positions, click here.
The candidates running for vice president and president all gave politician statements, saying they are platforming on diversity, inclusivity and transparency.
The only presidential candidate is Estefany Gordillo-Rivas. Gordillo-Rivas is the current director of community engagement for WCU SGA and a second-year student majoring in forensic science and forensic anthropology and minoring in leadership.
Her platform is student body representation and implementing changes that will “not only better campus for students now, but also for future Catamounts,” she told The Western Carolina Journalist via email.
She aims to make SGA more productive for students by focusing on accessibility across campus. She plans to accomplish this by establishing an accessibility walk, similar to SGA’s safety walk, improving residential students’ access to accommodations, and increasing SGA’s awareness of accessibility issues and further outreach among students who may need accommodations, according to her website.
She is currently working on Cats and Gowns, a project to assist students who may not have the financial resources for graduation regalia. She has so far helped with events like Dining Appreciation Week and Safe Sex Week.
The two current senators running for vice president are CJ Mitchell and Tristin Goode.
Mitchell is a sophomore double majoring in business management and hospitality with minors in sports management and leadership. He wants to focus on the students’ well-being, advocating for the physical, mental and emotional health of students. He authored an SGA resolution implementing mental health days, which was passed.
Mitchell’s platform is focused on diversity, inclusivity, and equity. He wants to add more activities during Black History Month and focus on the Afro-Latinx and Asian populations, as he said during the SGA’s Platform Night, on Feb. 23. You can see the recording of the interviews with the candidates on the WCU SGA Facebook page and on YouTube (Actual platforms start at 4:40 in video featured below).
Tristin Goode, a political science and history major, is classified as a junior by his credits, but he has only been at WCU since Fall 2021. He is running for vice president to “close the gap between the student body and its student government,” he said in an email to WCJ.
He believes that SGA limits the ability of those appointed to work for the students and he also believes that the limits to run for SGA (GPA, prior involvement, etc. – per the SGA bylaws) constitute severe flaws in the system itself. He believes the vice president is incredibly powerful, whereas the senators which make up the bulk of SGA have very limited power. He’d like to work with the senators themselves to change SGA.
Goode is also a service chairman for Turning Point USA’s chapter at WCU but says he plans to remain unbiased in his SGA operations.
During the platform event the Vice-President candidates were asked about their opinion on the sensitive topic of inclusive RA training.
Goode said that the training was important. He explained that he could see it from both points and that it could have been solved by being an open discussion. By the end of his argument, Goode did not fully give his opinion on the issue.
Mitchell said, “the world is changing, and everybody is able to identify how they choose to… you have to respect that as an RA otherwise the student will not be able to trust you.”
Mitchell added that his goal is to make SGA “a place where everybody feels comfortable disagreeing with another person.”
Transparency of SGA was something that all candidates agreed on. They agreed to incorporate more community engagement and openness of the association.