SGA President TJ Eaves holds inaugural State of the University Address

Student Government Association (SGA) President, TJ Eaves, gave the inaugural State of the University Address touched on the tuition increase starting next year. Eaves also spoke on plans that SGA has for this semester.

Eaves opened his address to the Catamounts, thanking them for their involvement in not just student government, but also other clubs and organizations on campus stating that “everybody has a vital role in this process”.

He focused primarily on the tuition and fees process, which he described as a complex issue. Eaves explained his top priority was to be educated on the process to inform follow students.

This past fall, a tuition and fees committee was formed with Vice Chancellor Miller. The committee’s responsibility is to correlate budget cuts from the state level. Over the past few years Western Carolina has lost $30 million of state funding due to budget cuts.

Eaves urged that in order, “to protect the quality of education at the university,” a proposed tuition and fees increase of 17 percent was to be installed. However, Eaves was not happy with this number, and lobbied for it to be reduced to 13 percent. His negotiation was granted by the committee and Chancellor David Belcher, now the motion has been moved to the Board of Governors.

While at the Board of Governors, Eaves spoke for the students about the tuition increase. He also expressed his concern with maintaining the quality of education here at Western Carolina University.

After discussing the tuition and fees issue, Eaves moved on to Belcher’s official installment as the 16 chancellor of Western Carolina University.

“A new chapter is being written as we walk around this campus,” said Eaves, in reference to Belcher. “I have met many chancellors in the UNC system, and I can say with 100 percent certainty that Dr. Belcher is the best one.”

Eaves encouraged students to come out to events on and around campus in the week leading up to Belcher’s installment. Events that Eaves alluded to included the “firing of the catafount”, “lawngating instead of tailgating” and Whee Hours, stating that more information on the events will be available closer to the date.

Moving forward, Eaves discussed SGA elections and how student involvement is important. Eaves also discussed that his time as SGA President isn’t over yet, and that he would continue to advocate for student concerns such as parking and dining services.

Eaves closed his State of the University Address by asking students to remember their university.
“I want each of you to remember how great this institution we call home is, we have a slice of paradise,” said Eaves. “Every day is a great day to be a Catamount.”

Before and after Eaves’ speech, SGA members discussed ways in which they are trying to meet students needs.

SGA Vice President, Alecia Page discussed an initiative to encourage students to write to their representatives about how the budget cuts are affecting them. Page added: “We really want to advocate for our students.”

Lauren Gray, SGA Director of PR and Marketing, discussed the successful open forums with dining services that were held last semester, and added that this semester, SGA plans to hold more forums on dining as well as a general SGA open forum.

Gray also discussed, Whee Listen, an initiative started by SGA to ensure that students concerns are being heard.
“Whee Listen addresses concerns and issues that students and our community have,” said Gray. “We are making sure that student’s voices are being heard”

You can see the whole broadcast on TV62 here.

For more information on SGA and their activities visit their website.