Dolce Leaves Legacy

It may come as a surprise to many Marist College students to learn that Student Body President Ted Dolce ‘19 ironically had no plans of running for office when he arrived on campus in August 2015.

“It started out as a joke,” Dolce said.

As Dolce’s administration winds to a close amid this week’s Student Government Association (SGA) elections, his initial hesitance to serve has given way to a dynamic term that has seen change and progress on multiple fronts.

Born in Haiti, Dolce was raised by his mother in the Miami, F.L. area. Dolce described his earlier years as a “relatively amazing childhood,” but as he finished up his senior year of high school, something was missing, and it wasn’t the white sand beaches or laid-back vibes.

“Miami was stifling me,” Dolce said. “I couldn’t be who I wanted to be there.”

With this in mind, Dolce applied to a number of schools away from Florida, and ultimately landed at Marist in the fall of 2015, eager to make a new beginning in the faraway land of the Hudson Valley.

Initial attempts to adjust were not easy, according to Dolce. “[It was] a completely different universe,” Dolce said.

Through his first two years at Marist, Dolce contemplated transferring at the end of each academic year. Despite these feelings, the determined Dolce never lost sight of the dream he had cooked up back in Miami. “I’m not a quitter,” Dolce said.

By his junior year, Dolce finally felt comfortable at Marist, and was primed to make the impact he knew he could provide. He knew just where to start, announcing his candidacy for Student Body President in Fall 2017.

Though he initially had no interest in running for any kind of office upon arriving at Marist, Dolce was no stranger to public service. In fact, Dolce had served as class president at his high school in Miami. He also served as a student advisor on a committee entitled Five Dozen Role Models of Excellence. Founded by United States Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, the initiative seeks to provide Miami’s underprivileged youth with educational and practical tools they’ll need to succeed in their professional lives.

Dolce’s campaign outline was ambitious, but simple to grasp. “I wanted to bring a bit more culture to Marist,” Dolce said. “Everyone has culture, but some celebrate it more than others.”

This ideology developed into the base layer of Dolce’s campaign; an effort to increase awareness of students coming from under-represented ethnic backgrounds.

On Dolce’s birthday evening in March 2018, the candidate sat with his campaign team and close friends, watching the student body president election returns coming in.

“If we get it, we get it. If we don’t, we don’t,” Dolce said jokingly in reference to his feelings on that day.

Dolce’s running mate, Executive Vice President Ankofa Billips ‘19, felt similarly. “We were completely surprised [to win,] but looking back on it, [we were] unsurprised,” she said. “We were running because it was important to run.”

Little by little, the returns revealed news shocking to Dolce. The kid from Miami was going to be Marist College’s next Student Body President.

Dolce’s days are packed with a plethora of classes, events, meetings, and various self-care exploits. For instance, a typical Monday for Dolce will consist of three classes, the first starting at 8:00 a.m. However, mixed into that schedule are countless engagements that keep Dolce’s daily slate full.

Dolce insists that the load can be much to bear at times. “It’s so much more demanding [than I thought it would be],” Dolce said. “[The job] became everything. I wanted so much done and I knew how slow it can be to get a lot done in one year.”

It’s also evident that Dolce’s schedule involves quite a bit of face time, and if you ask him, that’s purely intentional.

Photo by: Chun-Li “Ken” Huang

Photo by: Chun-Li “Ken” Huang

“I feel like a student body president should never be out of sight,” Dolce said.

His administration’s highlights are diversified and far-reaching. Since taking office last spring, Dolce’s administration has been a catalyst for change. Dolce’s self-proclaimed “favorite” initiative has been the simplification of flyer approval on campus. Starting with the Fall 2019 semester, any and all flyers will be welcomed at designated kiosks throughout campus, without the need of an approval process. According to Marist Vice President of Student Affairs Deborah DiCaprio, this policy change was welcomed by both student government and campus administration.

“We thought, ‘why not?” DiCaprio said. “If students want to do it, great. If no one posts anything, then we know we have the answer.”

Dolce has also overseen the shortening of the club chartering process. A lengthy back-and-forth process between the students and administration used to lead to a one-to-two-year period of finalization before a club could be properly chartered.

“No student wants to [go through that process],” Dolce said. “Especially if you’re a junior or senior.”

Now, after constitutional amendments and formal agreements with administration, the club chartering process could be as short as five to six weeks.

Dolce also made it a priority to install feminine hygiene product dispensers in all academic buildings, a process that will be in place at the beginning of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Despite these accomplishments, cultural awareness and campus diversity was always central in Dolce’s mind. He knew he had to make sure it played a central role in how his administration would be remembered years later.

There isn’t any one way Dolce has worked to restore cultural diversity on campus. In any respect, Vice President of Student Affairs Deborah DiCaprio feels that Dolce’s ability to shed light on this growing sector of the Marist student body population.

“I think he’s opened some eyes on some things that we need to do,” DiCaprio said. “That [minority student population] is going to increase, and if the college is going to be successful, we need to welcome those students.”

Marist College president David Yellen had similar feelings to DiCaprio, as he lauded Dolce’s efforts.

“He’s a great leader, and he’s enthusiastic,” Yellen said. “He’s got a lot of wonderful qualities that I think were reflected in his leadership this year.”

With his full academic year of service practically in the rearview mirror, Dolce has gained more of a reflective mode as spring break nears. He’s certainly aware of his accomplishments, but he may be even more entranced by his missteps. No one knows about those more than Dolce.

“I’m hardest on myself,” Dolce said, as he spoke of certain things he felt he could have done better after a year at the helm. “I’ve never really mastered time’s something I’m working towards.”

Dolce is poised to leave Marist behind upon graduation in May, and his hope is that through his efforts, student government can become a group of advocacy. According to Billips, this has been achieved.

“Students feel like student government is an advocate for their voice,” Billips said. “They feel like they can come into the office and talk to one of us.”

Dolce echoes this point. “For how much we pay to attend this institution, our voice should be loud,” he said. “Every student should have a voice.”

Jack McElduffComment