SGA presidential election candidates discuss important aspects of their campaigns
By Tatyanna Carman
Junior musical theater major Dylan Erdelyi and junior political science major Matthew Schantin are the candidates running in the Student Government Association (SGA) presidential election, which will begin voting on April 8.
The Rider News hosted a Zoom interview to identify which candidate the publication wanted to endorse. Each candidate was allotted 30 minutes to answer questions on topics such as the integration of Westminster Choir College (WCC) students onto the Lawrenceville campus of the university due to the consolidation, SGA funding, dealings with the university administration, helping underrepresented students and their stance on the contract negotiations between the professor’s union and the administration.
Dylan Erdelyi, junior musical theater major
Erdelyi has been a part of SGA for three years. He has held positions as a senator for the school of Fine and Performing Arts, a member of the academic affairs committee, the chair of the internal affairs committee, the vice president for university affairs and the executive vice president. He was also a tour guide and a Fine and Performing Arts mentor.
Matthew Schantin, junior political science major
Schantin is the president of the Rider College Democrats, a tour guide, an Eco-Rep, a member of the Political Science Club and a part of Model United Nations on campus. He was also the vice president of the class of 2022, which he ran for during his freshman year to serve this year.
Erdelyi said that his relationships with WCC students have helped him to understand their greatest concerns and how SGA can address them. He mentioned a piece of legislation that was passed this year that added six senate seats for WCC students and a two-year provisional committee that focuses on the transition of WCC students onto the Lawrenceville campus.
Schantin agreed with the work the administration has done when creating transition committees to push programming for WCC students and said he wanted to expand on that.
“I have kind of made it a figure point of my campaign in terms of making sure that every decision, every piece of legislation, every policy that we have all stakeholders involved,” Schantin said. “I think that would very much be a priority of mine within my administration, to make sure that WCC students are consistently put at the table with whoever the decision-makers are and make them some of the decision-makers and how we go about proceeding with various legislation and policy.”
In regard to SGA funding, Schantin said that it was a big issue on how the budget is being used and he believed SGA has, “slowly become more of a planning committee and more of what the [Student] Entertainment Council does or another organization that plans events.” He emphasized using the funding to help solve issues such as fixing the desks in the Fine Arts Center.
However, in Erdelyi’s response to the SGA budget, he made a distinction between student activities fee money and the SGA budget. He said that SGA only received three percent of the student activities fee budget to use for programming. Erdelyi also said that if SGA falls short on its budget, it is only by a couple of thousand dollars, which gets recycled into emergency funding.
“Most importantly, advocating for students costs nothing and that is the primary goal of our organization,” said Erdelyi. “We do have great potential with our budget to co-sponsor events with campus organizations or with sub-governments, but we should always be intentional about it. I think that every time we consider spending money, we should be asking, is this helping give a voice to the student body? Is this making students feel more safe and comfortable on campus?”
Erdelyi highlighted how Rider’s recent controversies have caused growth within the Rider community as well as made SGA leadership and administration collaborate closely together on issues. He said that he would have no problem speaking out against the administration if that is what is necessary.
“I recognize that SGA having a symbiotic relationship with the administration is typically beneficial to the student body,” Erdelyi said. “I cannot tell you how much we have accomplished because we have built up reciprocal trust with them and so many parties in our community. It is so much easier to get something done when the people you are convincing already believe in you.”
Schantin also spoke on SGA’s relationship with the administration and was asked about his thoughts on SGA’s consistent alignment with the administration. Schantin said that part of the reason why he ran for a position on SGA was that he felt as though “the students had no elected voice.” He emphasized the issue of transparency within the organization multiple times.
“My response to making sure that we stay separate from administrators would just be to continue doing our work,” Schantin said. “Yes there can be communication from administrators and we can be that intermediary between the student body and the administration, but we will not be a simple voice and we will consistently speak out.”
Erdelyi said one of the three components of his campaign was giving students “a seat at the table,” and stressed the importance of hearing the voices of students that have dire issues. Both Erdelyi and Schantin said that SGA could be more involved in the Rider Food Pantry. Erdelyi shared that he wrote legislation this past semester that created the position of Chief Diversity Officer within SGA to “amplify SGA’s commitment to advocate for policy that supports diversity at our school.”
Schantin and Erdelyi said that they would be in support of faculty wage increases as the negotiations for a new contract between the faculty union and the administration will take place this summer.
The Rider News decided to endorse Erdelyi in the campaign for SGA president.