Candidate Profile: New SGA president hopeful seeks change and new possibilities for campus

Casey McAnarney, Editor in Chief

As the end of the year approaches and the student body prepares for the election of officials to the UNC Wilmington Student Government Association, one candidate hopes to work with students in order to foster a sense of community and work together to create a greener and safer campus.

Jacob Turney, a junior and political science major at UNCW, first thought about the idea of running for student body president when he discovered the plight of students who felt as though they were being unheard on campus in relation to issues that mattered to them.

“So, I was actually walking to the Fisher Center,” Turney said, “and there were two guys outside of it with a petition and pizza, and they were like ‘hey, do you want a piece of pizza.’”

Turney recalled accepting the pizza and, subsequently, being asked to sign a petition. Turney learned that this group was trying to get clean energy on campus by 2030. He remembered finding it to be a great cause, one that he was in support of, and got the permission of friends to sign their names on the petition as well.

“I asked how many of students you had gotten to sign it, and they said that they had a large population at the university who were all for it and they want to get a plan together,” Turney said. The only problem these individuals faced was not being able to get this issue to the chancellor, vice chancellor, or even SGA.

Turney thought that this was crazy, and asked how he could be of assistance to them. Turney wanted to know how he could help or be an advocate for issues like this on campus. And then the idea of running for Student Body President crossed his mind. Turney wants to go around to students and be a voice for them; he wants to hear their ideas.

“I think SGA does a great a job, the big thing I just want to do is be a voice for the students and keep the student body informed,” Turney explained. “One of my plans is to do two videos a week; one will be in English and one will be in Spanish, for a diversity aspect. Largely, they’ll be updates on everything that is going on.”

For instance, these videos may explain what Turney as president talked to the chancellor about recently or other issues that he and other SGA members are working on.

Turney acknowledged that in the past he would have to go straight to the current student body president, Dan McCord, or to the vice chancellor on issues that he did not know about and he felt that those issues could be dealt with in a more “widespread way” so that students could be more informed.

However, being a voice for the students and keeping the student body informed are not the only issues for which Turney is concerned. Having a greener campus is an issue Turney hopes to tackle, especially since a lot of construction will be taking place on campus in the coming years. Incorporating solar panels would be an endeavor to consider, according to Turney.

Diversity and community is another issue Turney hopes to confront if elected. After last semester, Turney noted that minority groups feel very small on campus and “that is something he does not want anyone to feel.”

Part of a proposed solution to this problem is fostering a sense of school spirit. Turney hopes to go to classes and student organizations, talk and listen to students, and foster a sense of community through those interactions.

His last big issue that would be addressed during his time as president if elected would be sexual assault. “For me, personally, it is disgusting and I hate it. Whenever I am with a female friend at night, I always try to walk them home. It is kind of the society we live in right now, which sucks, and I would like to change that.” For this problem, Turney would like to spread awareness on the issue of sexual assault as well as work with the Title IX offices on campus.

Ultimately, Turney acknowledged that he likes the other candidates running for this exact same position, but made a case for why he could be more qualified.

“I think that I am qualified because I have been through a lot here at UNCW. I started out as a student athlete, so I really got to work on my organizational skills as well as time flexibility. I also got to know all of the student athletes and their little niche.” Turney explained that he could reach out to niche groups like this in order to incorporate them into the rest of the student body.

Turney has also have been a Resident Assistant and a Seahawk Link, and “those two are definitely community based building jobs.” Turney has an entire building to himself as an RA in the Seahawk Village with 84 residents for whom he is responsible.

“My big hopes are that [what I can implement will] create more school spirit or a sense of pride in the students at UNCW.” He wants to see more students walking around in UNCW gear or going to UNCW sporting events.

“I really just want the students to know that the executives do care about them and what is best for them. And I want to be a voice [for the students]; I want to be able to go to the executives as well as students and say that we are all one big family, that we all want to come together to make every experience for each student the best one possible.”