On Wednesday, Sept. 6, ten students were elected by their peers to represent the freshman class in the Saint Vincent College Student Government Association (SGA). Several days of campaigning led up to the vote and some positions were hotly contested.
Since the election took place within the first week and a half of the semester, students weren’t familiar with all of the members in their class. Candidates resorted to creative ways to garner votes.
Cameron Vallus, a freshman theology major, secured the position of president in a runoff election after an initial vote resulted in a tie with challenger Nicole Reyes. Freshman undeclared major Joseph Corne was elected to the position of vice-president.
“The current vice-president, JJ Corne and I, we campaigned — I wore a penguin suit, he wore a Yoda onesie,” Vallus said. “We looked kind of ridiculous. That was to get people to recognize us.”
Taylor Berardi, a freshman mathematics major, was elected secretary.
“I chose to campaign in a very old-fashioned manner: handing out candy with a cute slogan,” Berardi said. “I felt that the rhyme in my slogan, ‘Be a Smartie, vote for Taylor Berardi!’ would serve as an easy way for students to remember my name while voting.”
The election wasn’t all about candy and costumes, though. The students had to show the freshman class that they had something to contribute.
“Once my name was out there, I started to actually say some stuff that I would like to get into,” Corne said.
The newly elected president agreed there is more to running for an SGA position than having a high social standing. “Once people saw us when we were campaigning, we told them about all our policy ideas,” Vallus said. “I think looking silly and getting our names out there, that was just to get our foot in the door.”
Those who were elected to SGA bear substantial responsibilities toward those who voted for them.
“My job as freshman class president is to report to the executive board on the happenings within the freshman class,” Vallus said.
Corne was placed on the events committee, and must work toward providing interesting events for the student body.
Berardi described her responsibilities as secretary, saying, “My jobs include attending SGA meetings, helping organize and set up events, and serving on the public relations board. On this board, I help run the social media accounts for SGA in order to connect with students in a more convenient way.”
Students may not be aware of how much authority the SGA has at Saint Vincent. The total budget controlled by the SGA last year amounted to nearly $150,000, including $25,000 in funding for student clubs and organizations.
According to Mitch Farrell, senior accounting and music double major and executive board treasurer, some of SGA’s current projects include Wi-Fi expansion, new equipment in the fitness center and a $10,000 Carey Center sound system upgrade.
The newly-elected freshmen came prepared with their own suggestions.
After an incident occurred in Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve on Sept. 4, when a female student was grabbed, Corne expressed concerns about the need for improved lighting on and around campus.
The current officers mentioned their desire to assist the freshman class as a means of making a difference around campus.
“I always wanted to do SGA in high school, but I just was too afraid to do it, and I thought it was about time that I tried to do something for my community,” Corne said.
Vallus agreed, saying, “I was never given this opportunity in high school. I figured now was an opportunity for a fresh start and to see if I could make a positive influence on the school.”
On the other hand, Berardi held several different office positions in her high school’s government association. “I was very excited to continue being involved in college!” Berardi said.
Not only is SGA participation hard work, but also engaging and informative for the newly-elected freshman officers.
“It’s nice to know what’s going on around the school, in clubs and on campus,” Maddie Mutinelli, freshman undecided major and class treasurer, said. “I’m hoping to learn a lot and do my part to keep improving SVC.”
SGA meetings are held every Sunday at 8:15 p.m. in the Luparello Lecture Hall in the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavillion and are open to all students.
A complete list of officers, residence hall and commuter representatives may be obtained online in the SGA section of the Portal.
Photo: Jonathan Meileander Photo: SVC Flickr