‘V’ turns out to stand for victory
By Steph Mostaccio and Olivia Tattory
Remember, remember the fifth of April when junior Laura Vendetta stood as victor.
Three candidates vied for the top position in what Cassie Iacovelli, assistant dean of Campus Life and Lawrenceville SGA adviser, predicted would be a tight competition. However, Vendetta came out on top, earning the title of Lawrenceville SGA president.
“I was up against two very valuable Greeks,” said Vendetta. “As people know, Greeks have the highest voter turnout. I really wanted to show how beneficial a non-Greek could be as president.”
Sophomore Brian Pawelko, a brother of Phi Kappa Tau, won the vice presidency, junior Laura Claus, a resident advisor (RA) in Kroner Hall, won the position of treasurer and junior Theresa Androvett, an RA in Olson Hall, won the position of secretary.
The term “race” was almost nonexistent in last year’s Lawrenceville SGA elections. That’s because three out of the four executive board positions were unopposed in last year’s contest, including president, treasurer and secretary.
This year, the elections for all of the top posts included more than one candidate — four for vice president, three for treasurer and two for secretary.
However, candidates were lacking in class council positions, including senior class treasurer and secretary, and sophomore class president. Several other council candidates ran unopposed. Iacovelli attributes this to students not knowing what responsibilities are associated with these positions.
“We continue to struggle with what their role is,” she said.
Senior Andrew Buher, the Elections and Recruitment chair, said a competitive election is better than having unopposed candidates.
“A race is more beneficial for voters’ interest because they have a choice,” he said. “There are more options to choose someone who would serve their interests more efficiently.”
According to Iacovelli, the increase in candidates this year sparked the rise in voter turnout. In 1996, fewer than 350 students turned out at the polls, but by 2002, that number had almost doubled, with a total of 651 students. Students showed the most support in 2005, when the voter turnout reached an all time high of 992.
But then last year, only 788 students voted, a decrease in more than 200 voters from the previous year. This year’s turnout was similar to last year’s, with 803 voters.
Iacovelli said having several candidates competing for the top positions would increase the voter turnout.
This positive voter turnout may be the result of the candidates’ campaigning efforts, according to freshman Shaina Palmere. She recognized how all the candidates publicized themselves very well.
“I saw everyone’s faces on a lot of posters,” said Palmere.
However, Palmere stressed that the publicity was focused more on the candidates and not the issues they supported.
“We really don’t know much about the issues,” she said.
Freshman Akua Addae added that the lack of focus on each candidate’s issues led her to believe that the Lawrenceville SGA elections are more of a popularity contest than anything else.
Iacovelli agreed that popularity was somewhat important in the election, although it wasn’t enough.
“It’s who you know, but you wouldn’t have a chance if you didn’t have a brain in your head,” she said.
Iacovelli added that students today are focused less on popularity.
“Students at Rider are now at a point where they care about who represents them,” she said. “People here want good leadership.”
As this year’s Lawrenceville SGA has shown, skilled and qualified campus leaders are essential in advancing the interest of students and improving the overall condition of the campus.
Many things were accomplished this year, including efforts to fix the card swipe at the South Entrance and working with Facilities Management to install new drains.
— Additional reporting by Jeff Frankel and Paul Szaniawski