RUSA swore in 25 newly-elected representatives at this week's meeting
During its general body meeting last Thursday, the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) swore in 25 newly-elected representatives and passed new legislation to co-sponsor an upcoming sustainability symposium at the University.
The meeting began with a discussion by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Dr. Felicia McGinty.
As McGinty was welcomed to the stage by Evan Covello, RUSA president and an Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy senior, he noted her leadership in major initiative projects and campaigns, including the Rutgers University End Sexual Violence campaign and the new Inclusion campaign.
“As your vice chancellor for Student Affairs, I am the person who is delegated the responsibility to think about the student experience,” she said.
The goal of her office, she said, is to help students be engaged citizens and support learning outside the classroom.
McGinty outlined major campaigns the Division of Student Affairs is working on, most notably the initiatives on inclusion and sexual violence prevention and outreach.
Addressing the University’s focus on inclusion, she emphasized that being culturally or ethnically diverse does not necessarily translate to inclusivity.
“It’s about creating a campus culture where everyone feels welcome, supported and connected,” she said.
With regards to the ongoing End Sexual Violence campaign, McGinty emphasized that the University is unique in focusing as much on prevention and education as they do in responding to instances of sexual violence.
She also addressed the upcoming week-long "Turn the Campus Purple" campaign to raise awareness of dating and domestic violence, of which the main event is a rally on Thursday featuring former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Former Vice President Biden is coming here because he wants to talk to students,” she said. “He has heard about your passion, your commitment to this work.”
The University has been trying to invite Biden for over a year and a half, McGinty said.
“Schedules were different, lots of things were going on when he was in the White House. Two weeks ago, he called us and said, ‘Okay, I’m coming,’” she said.
Although tickets are currently sold out, students are encouraged to line up outside the College Avenue Gym, where the rally will take place because if ticket holders are not in line by 1 p.m., their tickets will be released, McGinty said.
“We want to fill the gym — we want to let Biden talk to students because that’s what he’s coming to do,” she said.
Following McGinty’s presentation, 25 newly-elected members were sworn in as voting members of the assembly.
“We had an 8 percent turnout of the student population,” said Viktor Krapivin, RUSA Elections chairman and a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “Which is about a 14 percent aggregate increase in the number of people voting last year.”
Thirty-two representatives were elected, he said. Thirty-six seats were up for the contest, but four positions remain unfilled because there were not enough candidates who ran from the Cook or Douglass campuses for the at-large representative positions.
There are now a total of 86 voting members in the Assembly, Krapivin said.
Michelle Glauberzon, a Rutgers Business School first-year student, is a newly-elected Livingston at-large representative — she said she is looking forward to continuing her work in student government after serving as vice president on her high school’s student government. She formed the Rutgers UKnighted party with her friends.
“I hope to carry on the idea of what my team ran on,” Glauberzon said.
She recalled attending the first RUSA meeting in September when the director of the Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA) spoke to the assembly.
“I thought that the ability to work hand-in-hand (with administrators) to implement change on campus was amazing,” she said.
A large number of new RUSA members are members of the UnScrew RU party, which, according to a post on its Facebook page, had great success this season in getting its candidates elected — 14 out of the 16 members who ran, or 87.5 percent, were elected to RUSA.
Following the swearing-in ceremony, the student body passed legislation to co-sponsor the upcoming “RU Sustainable to the Core?” event on Oct. 11.
The bill was authored and presented by Dan Chulak, the University Affairs Committee chair and a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior.
The symposium, which will take place this Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Cook Student Center, will focus on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and is an opportunity to “foster sustainability in our lives, local communities, Rutgers and society,” according to the RU Sustainable website.
In addition to several Rutgers faculty, staff and students, the event will also feature keynote speaker Jonas Haertle from the United Nations Global Compact, Chulak said. There are currently 12 other co-sponsors, according to the website.
Co-sponsoring this event, Chulak noted, will not entail a monetary contribution. Rather, RUSA will be affirming the undergraduate student population’s support for the cause and will lend their public relations support to help promote the symposium.
The goal of the event is to bring students, faculty and staff together to engage with one another and with members of the broader community to discuss sustainability at Rutgers and beyond, Chulak said.
“Part of what we’ve been trying to do here at Rutgers is to change the culture around sustainability and environmental issues,” Chulak said.
RUSA has recently donated $2,000 to support the "Cupanion" reusable bottle initiative, which entails a shift toward reusable bottles in the dining halls as an alternative to plastic and paper cups.
This is not the first sustainability event at Rutgers, Chulak said in his presentation — the first one was last fall, and the University has hosted one every semester.
“It has been growing, and the plan is to keep going forward with this every semester,” he said.
Christina Gaudino is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore student majoring in public policy. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum.