By Harper Spires – [email protected] – Contributor
Presidential nominees’ statements of candidacy
Joe Baker, economics and political science student
Statement: “I, Joe Baker, am running for SGA president so that I can continue to advocate for the interests of all UNC Asheville students. As a senator in student government, my work has been focused on bridging the gap between students and the administration. During the past two years, I have represented the interests of individual students and I have also represented the entire school to a statewide audience. In each situation, I strive to better the UNC Asheville community and accurately represent UNC Asheville students. The position of SGA president will provide a larger platform for me to continue my work and more authority to get things done on your behalf. Ultimately, the presidency will help me to help UNC Asheville.”
Matt Turpin, political science student
Statement: “I’m Matt Turpin, and I am running for student body president. As a rising senior, I have spent my past three years advocating for the inclusion of UNC Asheville’s most marginalized students through education and changes in campus policy. My leadership experience includes president of Alliance – one of UNC Asheville’s largest and most active campus groups, executive of external affairs for student government and a state leader in College Democrats of North Carolina.
As student body president, I will work to ensure that UNC Asheville upholds and further advances our values of diversity, inclusion and equality.”
James Whalen, mathematics, philosophy and German student
Statement: “During my senior year of high school, my local school board tried implementing a new system of teacher pay based on crazy standardized testing. My friends and I didn’t like the plan, and organizing with our teachers, staged a series of rallies and meetings with our school board until the plan was abandoned.
Coming to UNC Asheville, I knew the importance of involvement and the powerful impact student activism can have. My faith in student activism is why I became a freshman senator in SGA, why I joined President Obama’s campaign for reelection and helped register 700 students to vote and why I was recently elected president of my chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi, a fraternity that calls its members to a life of service.
For over two years, I have worked with student activities coordinating over 60 student organizations. I have experienced firsthand the incredible strength of student activity, and I want to continue to stimulate activity and reduce apathy. I have met driven student leaders and dedicated university staff, and I want to build new bridges of communication between them and connect student passions to issues of global significance. The University of North Carolina Asheville has given me education, inspiration and resources, for which I could not be more thankful. I cannot wait to give back everything I can to you and to our university. My name is James Whalen, and I am running for student body president.”
Vice presidential nominees’ statements of candidacy
Charles Iceman Bridger III, psychology, K-6 teaching licensure and neuroscience student
Statement: “I am running for student body vice president after sitting as a senator for my first two years at UNCA. During my second year as a residential senator, I was also legislative librarian and chair of the Student Affairs Committee for SGA. I support Presidential Candidate Joe Baker after working with him for two years within student government and in various other organizations including Girls’ Achievement Through Education and the Association of UNC-System Student Governments. I am committed to serving as your student body vice president regardless of the outcome of the presidential race.”
Juliana Grassia, political science and French student
Statement: “Ever since I moved to Asheville as a freshman, I have been involved and interested in local politics. It’s through this involvement that I saw the power of student engagement, especially in a small community like ours. As president of College Democrats, I have spent hours registering my peers to vote, handing out literature and spreading the word about elections. Nothing is more satisfying than having your voice recognized and heard. The democratic process is our way of doing that on a fundamental level.
I believe that SGA has the power to amplify the voices of students and give them resources and confidence to pursue the endeavors that make them most passionate. UNC Asheville students are ardently dedicated to issues that face our school, our state and our country. My goal as vice president during the next administration would be to ensure we are providing the student body with the necessary means to make change. These means including access to polling locations, representation in Asheville government and consistent awareness of the SGA decision-making process.
In addition to my passion for politics, I have considerable administrative and leadership experience. I am the administrative vice president of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. I proudly represent our school as a university ambassador.
I moved 680 miles away from my home in New Jersey for the unique and rewarding experience that UNC Asheville has to offer. I could not imagine a better way to end my time here than as student body vice president.”
Lauren Noto, economics and mathematics student
Statement: “On a leap of faith last year, I took the advice of a classmate and decided to apply for an executive position with SGA. It was one of the best decisions that I have made since coming to UNCA. Student government has really deepened my commitment to this campus, and my goal is to give back as much as it has given to me.
I bring previous administrative experience which will be paramount to a successful vice presidency. I served as the chief of staff for the 2013-14 Whittaker-Owens administration. In this role, I was able to get a thorough, behind-the-scenes look at what makes a successful student government. I had direct access and influence on crafting and upholding the budget and was responsible for many vital administrative tasks. I currently also serve on the North Carolina College Democrats State Board, supervising and organizing regional directors and maintaining membership lists.
During the 2012 election, I worked as an organizer with many different types of people on one common goal. The most important part of what I did was being able to connect others so that they realize their commonalities. Student government at UNCA is meant to be a voice of the people, and I feel that my experiences are able to give me the framework I need to collaborate effectively and efficiently with a diverse senate body. I would be delighted to work for this campus as your next student body vice president.”
Paola Salas, political science and economics student
Statement: “For those that don’t know me, my name is Paola Salas-Paredes. I am from Panama City, Panama but raised in Fayetteville. I am a rising junior, political science major. For those who do know me, the first thing that I am usually associated with is my involvement on campus. From working at the circulation desk in the library to being a campus recreation referee, to working with the multicultural center to delegating at SGA, I have my hand dipped in every aspect of student life.
I have been a member of SGA since my freshman year, where I have worked to represent student concerns. Some of my projects of over the past two years included working to improve ingredients-labeling in the cafeteria, developing a commuter nap space in the Pinnacle at Highsmith, addressing
student parking concerns with campus police, advocating for an on-campus rock climbing wall and most recently, working with the Student Environmental Center to get water fill stations installed in the library.
I am running for vice president, because I have the leadership and experience needed to preside over the senate and guide them towards a more cohesive and representative body. If elected, I plan to advocate for new student organizations, especially ones that promote diversity and most importantly, cultural understanding. As we usher in a new era under a new chancellor, we should also move forward as a student body by focusing on the things that bring us together rather than what sets us apart.”
Commuter senator candidates:
Luke Howe, health and wellness promotion student
Declan Lockheed, mass communication and creative writing student
Jack Voelker, economics and biology student
Josie Whelan, environmental studies, K-6 teacher licensure and psychology student
Tayler Williams, political science, Africana studies and economics student
Residential senator candidates:
Kathy Frantz, electrical engineering and French student
Matt Ketcham, political science and economics student
Andrew Lee, management student
Jae Slaughter, political science and economics student
Daisy Torres, mass communication and marketing student
Senior senator candidates:
Corey Cloud, atmospheric science student
Alex Perry, philosophy and political science student
Max Stone, chemistry and Spanish student
Chase Thurman, biology student
Junior senator candidates:
Olivia Dobranowski, Spanish and sociology student
Leslie Frempong, art, new media and pre-law student
Matthew Thorp, Spanish, K-6 teaching licensure and psychology student
Connor Siegmeister, political science and philosophy student
Sophomore senator candidates:
Louie Edelstein, political science and economics student
Nikki Madle, biology and chemistry student
Ashley Peltack, literature and mass communication student
Charlie White, political science and French student
For more information regarding, please visit sga.unca.edu/meet-candidates.