President Sarci's First Thoughts
Student Government Association’s newest student body president enters the 2019 year with several initiatives in motion. President Joseph Sarci ‘20 was elected in the spring of 2019, running alongside Roda Mohamed ‘21 with the slogan “Vision bigger than the bigger picture”.
Their cabinet includes Nolan Anderson as the VP of Student Life, William Shaughnessy as the Chief Communications Officer, William Kluge as the Chief Information Officer, Spencer Hogan as the VP of Academic Affairs, Jason Davis as the VP of Club Affairs, Biaggio Raimondi as the Chief Financial Officer, Zachary Blackford as the VP of Safety and Security, and Hasion Gatson as the VP of Diversity and Inclusion. The VP of Athletic Affairs position has yet to be filled, according to Executive Assistant Jennifer Bradford.
A longstanding concern of the student population at Marist College has been the scarcity of parking. According to Sarci, talks with John Blaisdell have confirmed that there are no plans in the immediate future to construct a parking garage due to a lack of property. Sarci surmises that Marist will purchase property for additional parking sometime in the near future.
Despite a standstill on the much clammored for parking garage, the Sarci administration aims to improve the parking situation at Marist in a different way—in how the tickets are handled. “In recent years the tickets have doubled in price to $50. For students that can’t afford the ticket, we are wanting to offer community service instead,” Sarci said.
The plan would involve SGA approving organizations for students to volunteer at, determining the number of hours, and verifying the validity of students’ work. This option would not eradicate parking fines; after three instances of opting for community service, offenders would have to pay the fines as usual. The appeal system would remain unchanged.
In late July, Marist announced the end of their national search to hire a new Chief Informations Officer and the appointment of Michael Caputo. Caputo served as the CIO of the Medical University of South Carolina and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis prior to accepting a position at Marist College. Sarci is excited for the opportunity to work with a seasoned professional like Caputo to enhance the digital side of Marist’s resources.
“[With] the new CIO SGA has been fostering talks to get the electronic override system underway,” Sarci said. Another goal of Sarci’s administration will be to eliminate the need for paper override forms in hoped to expedite the process of overriding into classes.
For Sarci, inclusivity is huge. His Executive Vice President Roda Mohamed will primarily focus on promoting diversity and ensuring students of varying backgrounds receive equal representation on campus. “We bring vastly different perspectives to the table, representing different sides of the Marist population,” Sarci said. They also aim to institute an early registration period for students with disabilities.
A controversial topic in last semester’s election cycle was the potential adjustment of the priority point system for housing. In his final months as the President of Marist, David Yellen commissioned research into student opinion on the system as it stood, as well as into alternatives. He appeared at several SGA-hosted town hall events to field questions by students in real time on the issue.
SGA President Emeritus, Ted Dolce ‘19, drafted a proposal that was passed by nine members of the cabinet to abolish the system prior to Sarci’s election. According to Sarci, no official stance was given to SGA by Yellen. Many expected the system to either be reformed or eliminated altogether. Sarci met with President Dennis Murray last spring to become acquainted and seek advice on leadership, as well as to gauge his opinion on upcoming alterations to procedures in place.
“[Murray] is willing to make changes and willing to change. He is one of the strongest student advocates on campus. Students are directly impacted by priority points - if we got rid of it, there are some clubs that would take a hit in membership. I think I’m waiting on more research to come in before giving an educated opinion,” Sarci said. President Murray’s stance on the issue is unclear.
Lastly is a commitment to increasing voter engagement on campus. The 2019 spring student body election saw over 2,100 votes, the most to date. “I think students are starting to understand the potential impact of SGA,” Elections Commissioner Erin Eldridge said, “We have been brainstorming ways to engage the student body this summer that will increase their interest in civics in different ways.”
Sarci stressed the importance of communicating to incoming freshmen and senior off-campus that their voices are still “valid and needed.” RAs will be more involved in delivering news about SGA elections to students under Sarci’s plan.
“The opinions of the students will be heard—but they have to speak up and be willing to change. People are uncomfortable with some of the changes [we have] proposed, but you have to be accepting of change in order to improve campus life,” Sarci said.