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Student Government Association presidential elections March 27-28

By Kelly Mayo

March 21, 2013





Photos by Kelly Mayo
For the first time in years, students will have to decide between two tickets when voting for SGA president and vice president, and the candidates running on each ticket want students to know that they will represent their interests the best.

Current SGA secretary Emily Ashley and president pro tempore Jessica Collier, both sophomores, will run for president and vice president, respectively, in the first all-female ticket in years.

Senator Luciano Alvarado, a junior, and sophomore senator Mason Allen make up the second ticket, running for president and vice president, respectively.

Elections will be held via electronic ballot on March 27 and 28. Students will receive ballots in their Bravemail inboxes.

Why they run
Ashley, 19, is from Chapel Hill and is a student government veteran.

"I did SGA throughout high school and I was always very interested in representing my fellow students," she said.

Ashley also said that she is used to putting other people's needs before her own.

"I was raised . . . to make sure other people benefit. I want to make sure everyone has a positive experience," she said.

Sen. Collier, 19, graduated high school in Virginia and said her observations of issues around campus inspired her to join UNCP's SGA.

"I didn't want to put it on someone else to fix," Collier said.

Ashley and Sen. Collier said that their experience with SGA will help them to be productive in the top jobs.

"We have a lot of strong ideas we want to put into action, and we know based on our experience how to put them into action," Ashley said.

"Watching Robert [Nunnery] this year, we know how it goes and we're ready to step up for the responsibility," Sen. Collier added.

Sen. Alvarado, 33, is from Polk County, Florida. He is a commuter student and entered SGA as a senator-at-large in spring 2012.

He said he joined SGA in order to speak up for the voiceless.

"I wanted to be the voice of people . . . that just because of their physical appearance, they're being rejected or not being paid any attention by most," he said.

Sen. Alvarado also said he was affected by the amount of apathy for SGA on campus.

"It's a lot of talk, talk, talk and not work, work, work. Why should I care about SGA if there are not one or two senators who are going to care?" Sen. Alvarado said about students' attitudes toward SGA.

Sen. Allen, 20, a Wilmington native, was elected to SGA in spring 2012. He said he also noticed apathy not only from students, but also from the University towards students.

"A lot of students were complaining. The school doesn't take care of every major. Everything's an extra charge, and that really aggravates a lot of students," Sen. Allen said.


Ashley and Sen. Collier's plans for their tenure involve improving retention, knowledge of student fees and school spirit.

"I just think the retention rate is a big issue," Ashley said, and added that the University needs to use student services as "education from the bottom up" to help students stay in school.

Sen. Collier said that student fees is "an issue every year," and Ashley said that she and Sen. Collier want to work on "making student fees more clear and transparent to students."

Sen. Collier said that an idea she and Ashley took from other universities was to set up a student fee advisory board, consisting of the SGA president, vice president, other senators and other students and faculty members.

The board would review proposals for student fee increases and "come up with an agreement together before anything gets implemented," she said.

Sen. Collier added that while the board's approval or disapproval of student fee increases would not be binding, Chancellor Kyle R. Carter would take the board's opinion to the Board of Trustees, which would make the final decision.

"This is just a way to ensure that students won't get any surprises, and we're going to make sure they know that," Ashley said.

Ashley also said that she and Sen. Collie want to install a student section at sporting events that would include special shirts, chants and a banner.

"We want UNCP to have a student legacy," Ashley said.

Ashley and Sen. Collier also want to increase safety on campus; their plans to accomplish this include installing another crosswalk for students walking to campus from the University Commons apartments, as well as improving the lighting between Wellons and Jacobs halls.

Ashley said that due to complaints about to-go options in the cafeteria, she and Sen. Collier would try to work with Sodexo to improve those options, even though she said that dealing with Sodexo "can be like pulling teeth, and sometimes it's out of our jurisdicition."

Finally, Sen. Collier said that she and Ashley would push gender-neutral housing, which is currently in the initial discussion stage at UNCP. Ashley added that UNC Chapel Hill just approved gender-neutral housing for its campus.


Sen. Alvarado said that he and Sen. Allen are working on a plan to have students' leftover Brave Bucks roll over to the next semester, and make it so that relatives or guests of commuter students can eat in the cafeteria on the student's BravesOne Card.

Sen. Alvarado also said that he wants more than one professor teaching every course because taking one professor over another could mean the difference between an F and a C+ in the class for a student. Additionally, he said he wants to "bring new blood" to SGA via recruiting from campus clubs and organizations.

Sen. Alvarado's biggest goal, however, is to help install an agricultural department at UNCP similar to the ones NC State and NC A&T State have.

"It's the best way to bring funds to a university in a rural community," he said.

Sen. Alvarado said that the USDA has programs which colleges can apply to for funding, and that the agricultural departments at the aforementioned schools offer workshops, including computer classes, which can help students improve their skills.

He is also not restricting this idea to UNCP.

"I'm working on that in my community, Sampson County," he said.

Sen. Alvarado said that the new department could improve both the University and the town it rests in.

"Right now, people say 'That's a bad university, the town's bad.' What I want is for people to say 'Hey, that's a great university'," Sen. Alvarado said. "I am confident that I will get a lot of attention."

Sen. Allen said that student pride, satisfaction and involvement are some of the biggest issues facing UNCP, and that both decrease every time tuition is increased. He said that taking students' wants and needs to heart can improve relations between students and administrators.

"We have a lot of leaders that can talk . . . but what we need is a leader who can listen," he said.

He also said that instead of "trying to put everyone in one broad group" when planning events, the University should host more diverse events like card and video game tournaments and workout groups.

"Give them more things to be proud of," he said, adding that "variety in education" and a "fun environment" are also important.

Sen. Alvarado added that a way to boost morale for students and "make them feel special" is to hold an annual gala event where students receive awards and the chance to socialize and network with each other.

Sen. Alvarado also brought up the issue of campus safety, saying that he wants to install a new ATM between the Dial and Sampson buildings, as well as install better lighting in the commuter student parking lots.

"The commuter lots aren't lit, and they're not well secured. We should really take care of those students," he said.

Sen. Allen said that the University needs to advertise its events in more places around campus.

"Not all students go through the UC on a daily basis," he said.

Students are key

Ashley said that she and Sen. Collier's major goal as president and vice president is to increase awareness of what SGA does for students.

"The concern with student government for a long time is how known student government is.
We're going to make sure people know who we are. We're going to talk to our classmates…and tell them everything they need to know about student government," Ashley said.

Sen. Collier added that she and Ashley's status as off-campus students and participation in Greek Life will enable them to better represent all of campus.

"We're both full-time students . . . we both will be available for students. We're going to reach out to things we're not even involved in yet so we can represent everyone," Sen. Collier said.

Sen. Alvarado admitted that while he and Sen. Allen are "trying to bring some definite changes," they would not be able to solve all of the school's issues.

"You're not going to be able to fix everything, but you can be the spark," he said.

Sen. Allen said that student involvement is the best way to improve UNCP.

"If we tap that resource, we could have the greatest school in the state," he said.

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Updated: March 21, 2013
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