The 99th administration of WCU’s Student Government Association (SGA) convened for the last time on Monday, April 10, with the 100th administration taking over on Tuesday April 11 at the organization’s annual inauguration.
What is SGA?
The Student Government Association is made up of elected or appointed students that advocate, represent, and serve all students of WCU. SGA voices student interests and needs to administration in effort to improve campus life.
SGA has three separate branches that all serve a purpose to the organization.
The executive branch is led by the 100th administration President CJ Mitchell and Vice President Estefany Gordillo-Rivas and other members appointed at the discretion of the president. They are the administrative sector of SGA. The two switched roles for the 100th administration, with Gordillo-Rivas as the 99th session president and Mitchell as the 99th session vice president.
The legislative branch is made up of the student senate which serves as the body for drafting, completing, and voting on motions/proposals intended to be in the best interest of students. It is comprised of the student body vice president, president pro tempore of the senate, clerk of the senate, and parliamentarian.
The judicial branch reviews concerns/violations associated with SGA and holds traffic court. It is comprised of the chief justice, associate justice, clerk of court, and justices.
The 99th Session
The 2022-2023 school year saw SGA complete its 99th session, meaning there have been 99 years of student government at WCU.
During the year, 22 pieces of legislation were reviewed on the senate floor with 20 passing. One of those bills allows the president of SGA to appoint a Director of Health and Wellness under SGA committees. Gordillo-Rivas fostered the bill that created the position.
“It’s going to be a huge difference…in the past it was senators or members of the student body that would bring in concerns. To have someone dedicated to researching those concerns is going to be very beneficial,” Gordillo-Rivas said.
The 99th session also saw over $25,000 worth of supplemental funding given to organizations on campus including the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Global Black Studies and the Student Veteran Association, among others.
The judicial branch also had a successful year hearing over 700 cases of student parking ticket appeals. They also worked on facilitating ride-alongs with University Parking Operations and University Police to gain a further insight into the parking ticket process.
Much of the executive work fulfilled by Gordillo-Rivas and Mitchell during the 99th session was to lay the groundwork for future administrations.
“The work that we have done this year will make things easier next year,” Gordillo-Rivas said.
Though not everything that Gordillo-Rivas wanted to accomplish this year was completed, the internal organizational changes that occurred were necessary.
“I feel like there was more that we could have done outwards but that is one of the hard parts of running on a campaign and then seeing the state of the organization…I wish we had done more things outwardly, but I know the work we did will help do those things next year,” Gordillo-Rivas said.
The 100th Session
Gordillo-Rivas was elected as the president of the North Carolina Association of Student Governments (ASG), at the beginning of April. She will serve a one-year term. She was inaugurated on April 22 at UNC Pembroke.
With this role in ASG, Gordillo-Rivas is not allowed to serve as the student body president of WCU as there would be conflicts of interest combined with the other duties and responsibilities of the position.
In response to her new role, Gordillo-Rivas agreed to run as student body vice president leaving the seat for president open.
The race for the presidency was between two candidates, Aaron Hoyle-Rivera and CJ Mitchell. The voting turnout was strikingly low, but Mitchell came away as the president-elect.
On Tuesday April 11, Mitchell and Gordillo-Rivas were sworn into their new positions at the SGA inauguration.
There, Mitchell presented his executive cabinet to the newly-sworn-in 100th session senate to be voted on. All of Mitchell’s picks were confirmed.
Mitchell has two executive positions left to be filled.
Along with appointing the first Director of Health and Wellness, Mitchell also has the opportunity to appoint a Director of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, a position that was not filled during the 99th administration.
“I’m really excited to see how moving into year two helps us as an organization. Most times you have a change in leadership every year. It’s very rare to have two elected people in similar roles each year,” Mitchell said.
With the leadership transition, Gordillo-Rivas now becomes the administrator of the student senate.
She wants to change the way meetings are structured. With this change, she hopes that meetings will be more productive, and more resolutions will be passed.
Michell now steps back from his role with the senate but still has a few pieces of legislation he would like to see passed.
Since becoming a senator in 2021, Mitchell has been advocating for mental health days. Now, in his role as president, Mitchell would like to see mental health days become a reality.
“That’s something I’ve been very passionate about since I was a senator… If it happens, I would be really happy,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell would also like to see more of his work from the past administration such as forming better connections with groups around campus like student-athletes.
He noted that athletes tend to have stipulations surrounding them that don’t always align with the truth.
In 2023, SGA hosted an athletics mixer with help from athletic director Alex Gary to connect SGA and the student body with the student athletes of WCU. Gary is in full support of a continued and improved partnership between SGA and athletics heading into the 2023-2024 year.
“Whatever we can do with the student body, I’m all for. The student body is why we are all here. They support athletics at a tremendous level both financially and with their attendance and passion. It makes perfect sense for athletics to partner with SGA,” Gary said.
SGA also held a mixer with the University Participant Program, which allows intellectually disabled students to attend Western for two years, where they immerse themselves in the community and earn a degree, equipping them with necessary life and post-graduation skills along the way.
Applications for the 100th session of WCU’s SGA senate will open in the fall. To stay up to date on SGA happenings, pay attention to the weekly WCU Happenings email from Student Affairs or you can follow @wcusga on Instagram.