By Shanna O’Mara
On the heels of the university revising its mission, the Student Government Association (SGA) is revising its Senate board.
After the terrorist attacks in Belgium in March 2016, senior journalism major Pauline Theeuws reached out to SGA about the bombings in her home country.
“Pauline came into our Senate in the fall to present some concerns she had about the university’s means of communication to international students during times of crisis,” said John Modica, vice president of SGA. “She started a dialogue within student government about the issues that are unique to Rider’s international community — a dialogue that, unfortunately, our student government never seems to have hosted.”
From there, Nicole Alvarico, president of the Rider International Student Association (RISA), began the process to induct members of the international community onto the SGA board to represent the students who attend this school but call a country abroad home. Interviews were conducted until two members were chosen to serve as international senators.
“Creating this new position is a means of achieving an equitable Rider experience for students of all origins,” Modica said.
Theeuws and freshman information systems major Vivekkumar Govindaswamy were chosen for these positions.
“They’re two incredibly engaged, brilliant student leaders who have the potential to set our relationship on the right path,” Modica said.
Their jobs will require the same effort and dedication as the other members’ of the board.
“They correspond closely with RISA and international students to remain aware of problems their community is facing, and then addressing them through the added resources and support student government offers,” Modica said. “They are also held to the same standards as every other senator: being a voting member of the Senate, serving on one of our internal committees, and so forth.”
Theeuws is honored to be chosen for this position and recognizes the significance of her voice at Rider.
“I’m absolutely ready to represent the international community,” she said. “I think it’s really important that we have as much of a voice as anyone else here, especially in our world now where disastrous events can happen at home, and we don’t want to feel alone on campus.”
Although the specifics of the job are still in “formative stages,” according to Modica, they have been set into the bylaws as permanent positions.
“With the help of RISA and outstanding students like Vivek and Pauline, I’m confident that over the next semester and academic year we will turn this into a position that future administrations will be dedicated to maintaining,” he said.