Will Hebard and John Dunham

Daina Amorosano

If you ask presidential hopeful Will Hebard and his vice president John Dunham why they chose each other as running mates, they’ll tell you that there was no question in the matter. 

After meeting on the varsity baseball team freshman year, the two, now juniors, roomed together and even dated roommates living in the same building sophomore year.

“We had no choice but to become friends,” Hebard said.

Yet there is nothing forced about this friendship, as they describe their sleepless nights preparing for the campaign and readying themselves for their potential future at the top of the SGA pyramid, each chiming in to elaborate on one another’s point or make a joke.

“We were really inspired by the relationship between Dan [Gelwicks] and Spencer [Curtis],” Dunham said.

After each sustained a serious injury from baseball, effectively ending their athletic careers, the two took it as a sign to revamp their lives, according to Dunham, who rolled up his sleeve to reveal a 7-inch scar that spans the middle of his arm.

“We played baseball for two years, which was essentially a full-time job,” Dunham said. “It really limited our opportunity to participate in other areas of campus. We didn’t realize what else was out there.”

“I first took about three weeks to wallow when I realized my baseball career was over,” Hebard said — a brief time when considering that as recently as two years ago, he would have said he aspired to become a professional baseball player. “But since then I’ve been nonstop, and since baseball, I haven’t had as much of a passion for anything as I have for SGA.”

However, unlike the Gelwicks-Curtis ticket last year, which offered one candidate with SGA experience, neither Hebard nor Dunham has any prior involvement with the student government — a fact that neither tiptoes around.

“We agree — we don’t have SGA experience,” Hebard said.

“But we’re going to take what we have and make it positive,” Dunham said. 

A student who transferred to Villanova midway through freshman year, Dunham is a stranger to complacency, familiar instead with using his optimism to improve a situation. Hebard elaborated on how the two were going to turn this ostensible setback into an advantage.

“We plan to mesh internal and external relationships,” he said, both eager and serious. “We’ll be able to appoint six cabinet members with SGA experience who have an equal voice to complement our perspective.”

Just as they spun the loss of their lifelong baseball dreams into an opportunity, they see their newness no differently. While “newness” is a fundamental part of their platform, their refreshingly realistic approach is almost more enticing.

“Everyone hated that guy [in high school] who promised a snack machine,” Dunham said. “Of course, there are tangible issues to tackle. We hear the same thing every year: rollover points for meal plans, electronic notifications for packages — we want to make those happen, too. I just got cookies from my mom three weeks after she sent them.”

But the two also understand their boundaries and the limits placed on them by the administration, which they plan to combat by taking a more pragmatic approach to effecting change.

“We recognize the instant gratification mindset many students have, but we know communication is the first step — among students, administrators and neighbors,” Hebard said.

To improve the relationship between the University and the townships surrounding it, they plan to keep them informed with weekly newsletters, to, for example, let them know to expect crowds on certain occasions. 

Hebard and Dunham have devised an informative versus persuasive strategy for their campaign, a tactic that embodies the straightforward confidence each exudes when discussing his leadership aspirations, never backtracking a point or sidestepping a concern.

“This isn’t a résumé builder for us,” Dunham said, adding that both he and Hebard already have jobs lined up after they graduate. “We’re doing this because we want to and because we truly think we can.”