Rutgers Rise claims victory in RUSA's presidential election
The Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) announced the results of this year's election during their biannual Town Hall event last night. The meeting featured Chancellor Richard L. Edwards for the final time before his retirement.
After a long campaign, the Rutgers Rise ticket triumphed over Knights for Change.
“It feels good, a lot of work was put into this. We definitely had a lot of help, and it’s a relief. We’re just excited to get to work,” said Evan Covello, the president-elect of RUSA.
Rutgers Rise built their campaign on trying to improve the Rutgers experience and strengthening students' voice, the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy junior said.
“They're things like making sure the student organizations get the funding that they need, making sure we do all we can to end sexual violence on our campus, to improve mental health services, make college affordable and make sure that each student feels safe on this campus,” Covello said.
The new leaders of the student government will do whatever it takes to ensure that students are represented at Rutgers and that finding new ways to improve and strengthen the school is a continuous priority, he said.
“I want people to know that RUSA will always have their back,” Covello said.
Christie Schweighardt, RUSA’s vice president-elect and a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said that the work Rutgers Rise has done has paid off, but that it is now time to assume the position of vice president and get to the real work.
Schweighardt said that one of her main focuses as vice president will be to improve student access to mental health care.
“We still have a (mental health care) funding issue. I really want to push for online appointments,” she said. “I identify with that problem and a lot of my friends identify with that problem, and that is the number one thing that I want to push for next year.”
Schweighardt said that she also plans to focus on improving the culture on campus in terms of diversity and inclusion. One way of doing this will be through increasing student awareness.
“We have people who identify as different things, as different religions, different nationalities and a lot of us just don’t understand each other still,” she said.
Motivating younger RUSA members to strive farther in and out of student government is another one of Schweighardt’s goals.
“I would not be here right now if I did not have older people in the body helping me and seeing the potential of what I can do, so I really want to keep that going because I think it has really helped,” she said.
Shannon Chang, a Rutgers Business School junior, has been elected to serve a second term as treasurer of RUSA.
“Having invested so much, the re-election was hard to handle,” she said.
Chang said the win was especially rewarding not because of her individual success, but because of the success of her running mates.
“Obviously (other candidates for Rutgers Rise) were integral (to their win). Just the fact that I know that all of them are so passionate and so ready to work for RUSA is awesome,” she said.
Chang said that due to her prior experience as treasurer, her learning curve is far less steep and she will be able to begin working more effectively to improve issues regarding the RUSA's Allocations Board.
“The biggest issue we’re working on right now is the student fees issue,” she said. “Currently, from what the near 500 organizations on campus that receive the funding from student involvement are requesting is significantly more than allocations has, and so we are trying to restructure the student fees in an effort to minimize that discrepancy.”
This is a problem that Chang said she has been working on, and that she can now continue to solve.
“In college, I feel like every year you get to experience so many different things and you meet a lot of different people, so (running again) was different in that I had so much more exposure to more diverse people, which is awesome,” she said.
The event began with statements from the chancellor, which included discussions of important issues such as the University’s 14-point Scarlet and Black Initiative, as well as adding a student representative to the Board of Governors.
“It’s pretty emotional for me, it’s kind of bittersweet,” Edwards said with regard to this being his last RUSA Town Hall meeting. “Coming to RUSA is one of the things I will miss. The opportunity to interact with students and the RUSA students impress me as among the best and brightest that we have, people that are the most involved, the most concerned about a range of issues.”
Edwards said he is positive that after his retirement, the remaining members of the administration, as well as the new incoming chancellor, will continue to improve and build upon the greatness of Rutgers.
“I am absolutely confident that the new chancellor is a person that will be a great addition to Rutgers when people find out who he is and his background, and I know personally that individual and what kind of human being he is, and he’ll be a great person here,” Edwards said.
Chancellor Edwards was presented with a plaque and a bouquet of flowers at the conclusion of his speech.
“Every year, Rutgers’ ranking of all kinds increases, the quality of the student body increases, we have more and more applications so we are more and more selective,” he said. “We really are a world university now, with people coming from every corner of the world, as well as from all over New Jersey, so I am absolutely confident that Rutgers is on a great roll.”
Stephen Weiss is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in philosophy. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum.