Crowning the 2022 Cranberry Court

By Asia McGill

Cranberry Court is a tradition at Rider that has become beloved by seniors each year. 

To enter the court, seniors who are interested submit a video introducing themselves and explain why they should be nominated as a member of the court. 

“Typically 10 seniors are nominated and the student body picks their top 10. This year we had a tie for 10th place so there were 11 on the court,” said senior criminal justice major Darren Rush.

Rush stands as the campus life committee chair. His adviser, Barbara Perlman, is the director of student involvement; both are in charge of arranging the moving parts of Cranberry Court up until the winning nominees are announced.

While Perlman recently became the adviser for Cranberry Court, she notes the history of the tradition and how things have changed in terms of the election process. 

“Before I was here, it used to be a Cranberry king and queen. [Student Government Association] decided to make it gender neutral, so anyone can win the two crowns,” Perlman said.

Since the beginning of the semester, Rush and his committee host campus events for nominees to not only promote themselves for votes, but to earn points toward their standing in the court.

The point system the court uses supplements the amount of votes a nominee gets and pushes them further in the competition.

Nominees can rack up points and votes through events such as “MAACness” or the Halloween costume contest that was held at “Scream Screen.” These events are where court members can appeal to larger voter audiences and get closer to the crown.

After all of the votes are counted and the points are evaluated, it all comes down to two winners that claim the Cranberry Court crown.

Senior information systems major Tyler Approvato and senior psychology major Kyylah Harley were the 2022 Cranberry Court winners, and both expressed immense gratitude toward their voters.

Graphic by Adrienne Unfreed.

“It felt spectacular winning. I honestly didn’t think I was going to because everyone I was running against were such heavy hitters,” Approvato said. 

Approvato expressed how much he loved all of the support he received from his voters, while also acknowledging the responsibility that comes with being king.

“We now also have a higher standard to uphold with our actions and the way we hold ourselves around campus,” Approvato said.

Approvato has always looked for ways to be involved as a student, whether it was being a Bronc Buddy, working multiple jobs on campus or being president of Gamma Nu Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.

Approvato explained that being on Cranberry Court focuses on the “engagement with the community and just the all around leadership you exemplify on campus.” 

While winning was a shock for Harley as well, she said she felt a sense of honor being able to represent the court as a student of color. 

“It matters because if you see people that look like you … you feel a sense of comfort and confidence. I want people who look like me to know that they can do it too,” Harley said.

Harley’s efforts toward representation did not begin during her election process, but have been prevalent throughout her years of involvement on campus. 

Being a student peer leader, vice president for Generation Action and orientation leader are just some of the few ways Harley has made her mark.

As holders of the crown, Approvato and Harley share new responsibilities around Rider’s campus, like hanging up Christmas lights for “Celebration of Lights,” a campus tradition for the holiday season.

There are no specific qualifications that requisite the nominations of Cranberry Court, but winners do share one thing in common: true representation of the student experience.

“People who have been good leaders of the community, good role models, love Rider and bleed cranberry … that’s what we are looking for when we ask for nominations,” Perlman said.

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