By Megan Lupo
Graduating with a high school class of 150 people, junior environmental studies major Olivia Barone wanted to be a “big fish in a small pond” at college.
In her second semester of freshman year, she joined Student Government Association (SGA) as a senator. She was placed on the energy and sustainability committee, she said. And now, she is the vice president of university affairs.
Barone’s other involvement on campus includes being a tour guide, being involved in the Leadership Development Program, working at the information desk in the Bart Luedeke Center and peer mentoring for freshman seminar.
The next step for her is to run for student body president.
Barone said, “As chair, I had to develop my own agendas for the meetings I hosted for my senators. When I moved up to vice president of university affairs, I became in charge of academic affairs, organizations and campus facilities. Having that chair experience helped me know what they need. ”
Deciding to run for president was a way for Barone to help the school that helped her reach success.
She said, “It’s time for me to give back and be this servant leader role where students can come to me with any problems. It’s not this role where you get this crown and it’s all great and glory — it’s hard work.”
Running against Barone is junior organizational psychology major Paul Campbell.
The moment Campbell stepped onto campus last spring, he felt at home. An unconventional Rider student at the age of 27, he began his academic career at the University of Hartford, left and received his associate’s degree at a community college, worked at a school for children with autism and became a nanny for a Princeton family.
He took advantage of the opportunity to go back to school and found mentors in faculty who instilled in him leadership qualities.
Because of Pamela Pruitt, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Campbell said he has been able to internalize criticism and learn how to hone his abilities. And because of student success center coordinator and adjunct professor Kelvin Clark, Campbell was given the chance to work with 100 freshmen for the Milestone Scholars Program these past two semesters.
His involvement began by joining SGA a few days after he transferred to Rider.
Campbell said, “[Former SGA organizational affairs team leader] Gabriella Pasquini was my orientation leader. She started talking to me about student government and then she brought [former SGA vice president] John Modica over, and he started talking to me more, and right after that he introduced me to [former SGA president] Ryan Hopely, so I met three people on the executive board in the matter of an hour and a half at Rider.”
Campbell was sworn in as senator that next Tuesday and joined the diversity committee, he said. He is now the academic affairs chairman.
His roles helped him prepare for the position of student body president.
“As a liaison with a lot of these different groups, I feel like I can best support the students, as well as bring about the changes that the university wants for the students,” Campbell said.
Both are determined to govern the student body, but in different ways. Campbell set goals, but Barone wants her goals to be centered around the students.
One of his goals is to create more inclusivity amongst diverse groups.
“It’s taking all the clubs and organizations that feel like they are underrepresented and making them a collective bargaining unit,” Campbell said. “We have such a beautiful campus, and we’ll do programs that would be great as a series that could take up parts of the university that make people feel like my campus is being utilized.”
Another intended goal is to increase satisfaction amongst students.
“The school spirit feels like such a low sometimes,” Campbell said. “There are a lot of opportunities, but I do see where the trust was lost where they thought a program was going to be this, the program wasn’t and they were disappointed.”
Campbell, also, hopes to advance the technology and the education of technology.
“I want to better alleviate the issues when it comes to the technology dissidence between the university and the students. There are students that come from wealthier districts where they’re getting the newest and latest advances to support their education,” Campbell said. “Also, students are coming in that aren’t from well-supported districts, and they are not coming in with the same level of technology experience.”
Barone’s approach is to listen to the student concerns and make decisions from there, she said.
Barone wants to entice students to come out to events by encouraging “FOMO,” or the fear of missing out.
“Make people be like, ‘I want to do that. I want to go to that.’ I just went to The Price is Right on Friday, and I won a nice fitness tracker watch. Why wouldn’t you go to that?”
Campbell echoed the sentiment to Barone’s point that students should go to more events, such as the Rider Rap Battle a couple weeks ago.
“They base it on the habit. ‘I didn’t have fun here. I didn’t have fun there. So why would I think I would have fun this time?’ And it’s just like we need to get out of that mentality because the university is making all of these efforts,” Campbell said.
Comparing SGA to being a dark cloud from afar, Barone desires to bring more visibility to the organization.
“You can see the dorm rooms are already being renovated. There are the new engaged learning requirements. Student government has their own restructure so now we have an academic affairs committee. I think it’s important that with all this happening that students are always there to voice their opinions,” Barone said.
She wants to connect students.
“I think that stems from me being inclusive and open to my executive board and the cabinet level and the legislation level, and then those guys all branch out and can help everyone out. You can’t just put that all on one person,” Barone said.
The key to increasing student attendance is mostly word of mouth, Barone said.
She is dedicated to making students her priority.
Most of the student concerns that Barone hears involve food and facilities; both are in the process of revisions. And Barone intends to continue to evaluate issues that students have.
“Aramark’s contract is almost up so we had people come in to voice their new contract proposals. There’s a committee for that. Hearing those concerns, making sure this isn’t just me as president — this is just me as someone on student government making sure that they are listening to what the students want,” Barone said.
Her passion for bettering herself as a student leader and possible prospective president stems from a leadership development class she is in.
Pulling out the book, “Exploring Leadership: For College Students Who Want To Make a Difference” Barone quoted, “A president should be inclusive, future-oriented, resilient, transparent and empower students to realize their gifts.”
“And I was like, ‘I can do that,’” Barone proclaimed. “‘I want to do that,’” Barone prides herself on being a relational leader.
“I really want to build that personal connection before and after we get down to the nitty-gritty tasks that we need to accomplish,” Barone said.
One task that Campbell is planning for the upcoming year is a formal ball that is reminiscent of the President’s Ball at Westminster. He wants to call it the ‘Gratia Ball,’ after the Greek goddess of friendship.
“After last year’s negotiations and continuing into this year between the [American Association of University Professors] and the university, it seemed like students got left out a lot when thinking about it. This is one of those ways for students, faculty and staff to get out of the classroom and enjoy each other,” Campbell said.
Barone plans to campaign through social media and in person, while Campbell’s campaign includes information sessions and one-on-one meetings.
If elected student body president, Campbell wants to leave his mark by starting traditions.
“Something else that we can collaborate on as a new senate [is to bring] long-lasting traditions and we can come back to as alumni.”
If elected student body president, Barone’s legacy would be one to elicit change.
“Rider is taking a steep direction. I think continuing to build on that momentum is super important. We keep going. We keep making these strides to make sure we are talking to students, faculty, administration, making sure that we are combining efforts, making sure we are making something great out of this school,” Barone said.
Published in the 2/21/18 edition.