Cattino, O’Toole Win SGA Election against Write-Ins

For the past three weeks, Student Government Association election candidates have been petitioning and campaigning, and on Friday, the winners were declared.

For President and Vice President, sophomore Kevin Cottino and junior Caitlin O'Toole won, earning 258 votes.

"I want to try to make Ramapo the best it possibly could, and I believe Kevin and I are the people to do it," explained O'Toole. "I feel that we are the people to get things changed next year for the better for all students. We both have the experience and drive needed to lead the SGA next and hopefully will be able to get our goals accomplished."

Among her and Cottino's plans are to increase SGA's presence on campus.

"We are very open to suggestions and opinions from students, so we are going to try our best to get more students to reach out to SGA and give us some input on what they would like to see changed," O'Toole said. "We want students to be aware of what SGA is doing, trying to do, and accomplishing on major issues that interest the student body."

The current SGA cabinet has already started this initiative by launching the "Chatty Caddy," a weekly service that volunteers to give students rides around campus in a golf cart in exchange for conversation about the College and their ideas.

O'Toole added that she and Cottino also hope to elect five additional senate positions in the fall to open the organization up to freshman, transfer students and current students as well.

Cottino, who served as Senate President this year, hopes to utilize his experience in this position to lead the entire SGA.

"I know I can apply what I have learned this past year to be the best possible representative for the student body," Cottino said. "I want students to graduate with nothing but positive memories. I am passionate and have the drive necessary to turn things around and accomplish everything us in SGA set our minds to do."

Though the pair originally ran unopposed, they unexpectedly faced competition from two write-in candidates, sophomores Louis Di Paolo and Rachael O'Brien.

"We didn't like the lack of competition and basically wanted to stir some things up," explained O'Brien. "We just really want to see a more unified campus."

So, at the last-minute, O'Brien and boyfriend Di Paolo pushed to win the write-in vote. Had they won, the pair knew exactly what was going to be their first objective: working to create a more involved student body.

"[Rachel and I] both hate how Ramapo is a suitcase school and cringe whenever we hear students talk about how little there is to do on campus and how the events are more of the same thing," Di Paolo said. "We feel that student unity and school spirit should be the top priorities of SGA, and the school as a whole, and we want to see change that reflects these needs."

Di Paolo said he thinks of himself and O'Brien as a "power couple," and the two have leadership experience running Ramapo's chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

"I don't doubt the intentions or passion of any of our current SGA members, [but] I feel like it's very…unwelcoming to outsiders who still care about the school," O'Brien continued. "Talking to many other students, many have said they wish SGA was more approachable and diverse."

This past year, SGA has been working to counter this belief, according to Catherine Morris, the newly elected senator for the Salameno School of American and International Studies.

She said that despite the fact that there may have been less campaigning this year, SGA did host a wing night that encouraged students to come out and socialize with the candidates.

Nevertheless, less than 300 students out of Ramapo's student body of around 6,000, elected Cottino and O'Toole.

O'Brien attributes this, again, to the discord between student groups on campus.

"I think that was the prime reason behind the low turnout," she said, "as the lack of competition and lack of diversity in the running [candidates] disenfranchised a lot of students and reinforced the stereotype that SGA is 'clique-y.'"