Marotti-Oser Administration Comes to an End: Analysis of 2017-2018 Student Body Presidency
The commencement of Ted Dolce and Ankofa Billips as Marist’s 2018-2019 Student Body President and Executive Vice President marked the end of Matt Marotti’s 2017-2018 term.
Marotti, the former Marist College president, is a junior from Killingworth, Connecticut, majoring in economics and business-marketing with a minor in Information Systems. He worked alongside Ed Oser, former executive vice president, from Verona, NJ, who majors in biology with minors in music and chemistry. Both men won their seats last spring as heads of command for the Student Government Association.
Their cabinet was stacked full of versatile and multi-talented Marist students who, along with Matt and Ed, sought to make constructive change on our campus during this academic year.
In an analysis of the Marotti-Oser administration, Marotti highlights the accomplishments of his cabinet and the changes it implemented on campus per campaign promises.
His campaign goals included two up-and-coming projects he sought to complete during his term, both of which have been executed and finished within the year. Specifically, according to the SGA website, two of Mariotti's most important goals were “to create an online student feedback forum” and “establish a peer-to-peer textbook exchange program.” Both goals were accomplished, even if they weren’t to plan.
The online student feedback forum has been recently released and available for select students to use. The forum is available at the website, and works similarly to Reddit. Students can post their own thoughts and comment on others, reflecting on concerns of the student body and things that they want to see be addressed on campus. The site is still in testing and has only been used by a few students.
Similarly, the peer-to-peer textbook exchange, an in-person event performed in the fall, didn’t receive a large turnout. Whereas the event sought to exchange textbooks with other students rather than to buy them, many students wanted to make a profit to break even with the money they lost paying for the books. The event sparked a lot of discussion about the future of this project. Going forward, Marotti hopes that to allow the project to gain more traction and eventually be institutionalized by Marist as an online platform. He believes the idea eliminates the hassle of having to post in Facebook groups and barter for textbooks.
In club life, the administration has out performed past administrations, chartering five new clubs and organizations this year, including Men’s Club Soccer, Ethical Fashion Initiative, Women’s Club Lacrosse, Men’s Club Baseball and Pre-Dental Society.
When I spoke to Lindsey Michalewicz, Vice President of Club Affairs, she elaborated on why so many club sports were chartered, saying that student advocacy and persistence is the key to getting a clubs chartered here on campus.
“Getting a club chartered here on campus is entirely dictated by the students who are trying to charter it. At the end of the day, it's about the students justifying their need to be a club as well as their ability to display their leadership capabilities,” Michalewicz said. In addition to five clubs chartered, Michalewicz is hopeful that more will surface by the end of the semester.
“We’re still working on chartering clubs like the Muslim Students Association and the National Retail Federation Student Association. Both would be great additions.” Around ten clubs remain in queue as they await SGA enactment.
Allocations for clubs are another tricky issue that the administration tackled. Marotti articulated, “We don’t have any more money, but we have more clubs. What we’re looking for now is an increase in the student activities budget.”
Included in our tuition is an activities fee, which we pay at the beginning of each year that contributes to funding the clubs and organizations all students participate in. Basically, in our tuition, we pay a fee for participating in clubs. Participating in clubs here on campus is something that ultimately everyone does, so it makes sense that we pay for its budget in our tuition.
But, I’m sure I speak for the majority of students on our campus in saying that we do not want our tuition to increase. So, a policy that has been greatly enforced this year is encouraging the student leaders of each club to come into the office, speak to the administration, and come up with a plan with them before clubs submit for more allocations.
Marotti says, “The last thing we want is they don’t get the money they need for an event.”
Another avenue that the Marotti Administration sought to pursue this year is to elevate school spirit on campus. They cabinet has accomplished this by creating and supporting new projects that seek to advocate for more school spirit and community here on campus.
One of these projects is banners. School banners will be placed on many invisible spaces here on campus: lightposts, academic buildings, and other barren areas by the end of this year. These banners seek to alleviate the lack of spirit our campus shows externally.
“When students arrive here on campus, they know they’re on the campus because of the beautiful scenery and massive buildings. But where on the campus does it show our spirit? Or even say Marist?”
Marotti has a point, our campus is not very decorated as it is. It has a massive curb appeal to prospective students and families as being a clean and beautiful campus for students, but very little do we showcase our spirit or have any signs demonstrating school spirit here on campus. These banners, that will be installed on campus by the end of this year, add that spirit onto our campus that has been lacking since it’s foundation.
Marotti and his team also sought to break the barrier between administration and students, or what is known as the “Student Center Bubble.” Many students have complained to Marotti and his administration about the lack of “hominess” the Student Center has. Like most of our campus now, the area has an aesthetic appeal to prospective students, but it lacks a personality from the students who use it most often.
Most students compare it to a hospital. Sterile, spread out and lacking character. A huge example of how that Student Center Bubble was improved this year was through the For the Record exhibition. Ed Oser, Executive Vice President, elaborates saying, “For the Record helped change the Student Center environment to be more homey. It became more of an environment for students, less of an event meeting place.”
Why don’t we have student art displayed on the walls? Or exhibitions that happen over the course of the academic year? But really, rather, why not?
Marotti says, “The college and Student Activities is open to this, so we’re trying to pursue it.” Displaying student art year round, adding bean bag chairs or foosball tables, could really alleviate for the lack of comfort that many students feel when entering the Student Center. It’s very beautiful, but let’s make it comfortable and let’s make it ours.
Finally, another unfinished project, with hopes of being passed onto the upcoming administration, seeks to allow early access of registration for students who participate in the ROTC program here on campus. This came about from both Marotti and Oser’s personal experience with students who participate with the program and their frustration about the class registration process. Both advocated to allow any student in the ROTC program to register early with those students who register alongside the honors students, student athletes and any other students on campus who receives priority registration due to restrictions with their schedules.
Marotti elaborates, “Students in ROTC have to schedule out large chunks of their day to train and be off-campus. Having early registration would allow them the flexibility to be prioritized for the classes they have to take in time slots that are usually very inconvenient for them and in the past have constantly need overrides for. They really need this.”
Although the initiative was not completed within this year, both Marotti and Oser are hopeful that the project will persist in the fall.
Through all these efforts and many more, the Marotti Administration has really exceeded expectations in producing change at Marist.
The upcoming Dolce-Billips administration is centralizing its goals around spirit on campus and spearheading initiatives that advocate for stronger representation of diversity through events and initiatives that promote inclusivity and expression.
But, both Marotti and Oser are confident in the projects that they spearheaded and are passionate about will be passed over in the upcoming administration. Both are also confident that Dolce, Billips, and themselves will continue being a voice for the students and working toward the needs of our campus, the primary goal of both of their roles in the Marist’s student government association; past, present and future.