A friend of mine walks over to say hello, and I explain I am interviewing junior Tom Ciravolo, candidate for Student Body President. “Oh, no way!” She exclaims, “Where can I vote?” Ciravolo replies, “On the Marist or SGA website,” flashing a smile. She laughs as she walks away, “Well buddy, you got my vote. For the smile.”
That’s the premise of Ciravolo’s campaign—first hand experience, a grassroots connection. While he doesn’t have a running mate or a formalized campaign, however, he claims, “I am running with you guys. I am running with the students.”
“There is a divide between the students and the students in SGA. At times [SGA] appears very cliquey—at times we are not a welcoming environment,” he said. “I want to make SGA more well known on campus because right now it doesn’t have the best name. I want to change that and move away from the suspension and say ‘this is what we were, and this is what we are becoming–something new.’”
When asked about the motivation behind running for Student Body President he replies, “I didn’t see any action for the students being done.”
“Students will go around and protest but their voices are never heard. I’m trying to increase the level of transparency between the students and administration so their voices get heard. So, I’m building my platform off of the student’s concerns. I’m putting the students back into SGA. Whatever is in my platform is what you guys put up with.”
When asked why he does not have a running mate, Ciravolo staunchly responds, “I had the choice to run with someone else, but I chose to do it this way. It forced me to talk to students and ask myself why I really want to do this and really see what was going on.”
“With my campaign, I am kind of the underdog right now—but I have various students who believe in me and have come up to me and said ‘I will support you, I will fight for you.’ And I have gone around and asked about student concerns etc.”
“It’s been a lot of door to door, which is why you don’t see posters or videos etc. I’ve been walking around with a notepad, seeing what I can tackle and prioritize.”
His platform is entirely made up of the conversations he has had, one being with a female athlete on the women’s soccer team.
“One of the problems I found, when I was talking to an athlete on the women’s soccer team, was when she asked, ‘Why does it say ‘soccer’ on the men’s athletic clothes, but we wear clothes that say ‘women’s soccer?’ The font is smaller, but it’s the same sizes, same workout gear etc.’”
Ciravolo also notes that a similar issue arises with Marist women’s basketball.
“The games are more heavily attended by the local population than the men’s games, but ticket prices are cheaper for women’s games despite this fact. Students might not actually know this because we get tickets for free. I wouldn’t have known if a member of the [women’s] team didn’t tell me.”
He mentions that the main concern he hears repeated over and over again is diversity.
“If you think about it, to highlight the Duke game and the inauguration, there is still a divide on campus among students who think we should or shouldn’t have gone.”
One thing that Ciravolo would change in his administration would be the communication line between students, the administration and President Yellen himself. He says that the best aspect about SGA is “we are the bridge, that megaphone, between students and the administration—if we can make the Marist administration more aware of student concerns, then it would mean a lot more to the students.”
“Yellen has sent out emails, but there has been no open forum for the students. I get that the administration is busy, but at least once a semester they should sit down with students and address a crowd so students can voice their concerns.” He plans to change this aspect.
Ciravolo offers ample experience with grassroots efforts and organizational skills as well. His freshman year he started a recycling event for Campus Ministry called, “Recycle for Hunger Month,” which he currently has transitioned into a project for his fraternity, Zeta Psi, as Philanthropy Chair.
He says that thus far the recycling event has been the most impactful event he has coordinated to date, and this year he will be heading the project again for Campus Ministry’s Global Outreach program.
“My main goal is always trying to plan out what students want to be done first. Asking what is the first thing on list, and then what comes after that.”
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