Meet Your New Student Government Representatives: A Look Into Jasper Coalition

Members of the newly inaugurated 2023-24 student government. @MCSTUDENTENGAGE / COURTESY

By Nicole Fitzsimmons, Senior Writer

The newly elected board members representing Manhattan College’s Student Government were inaugurated to serve as leaders to the community in the upcoming academic year on April 13.

  A mix of members from the two parties, Jasper Coalition and Jasper Spirit, have been chosen by the student body, which collectively casted over 500 votes. The elected President, Jazi Riley, and Executive Vice President, Colin Ratner, were members of the Jasper Coalition campaign. The board is also comprised of Emily Gianni, Alexa Fox, Olivia Corsino, Maggie Colgan, Fiona Mohl, Montserrat Nicasio, Gabriela Sandoval and Alexis Colontonio.

Riley is a sophomore double major in political science and philosophy. As the second deputy speaker in the MC senate and current sophomore Vice President of Student Government, Riley decided to run for this position because she wanted to be more involved on campus and create a collaborative community post-pandemic. One immediate goal she has is to bridge gaps between students and administration such as bringing MC’s first ever student-run thrift store, TurnStyle, back in business.

“We definitely want to build community,” Riley said. “We want to have a strong sense of Jasper pride, but also feel like you could go talk to anyone you may not know…especially because there are so many gaps between student athletes and students or residents and commuters and even the veterans, we want to start including them more.”

Riley approached Colin Ratner, a sophomore communication major, to see if he would be interested in running in the campaign as executive VP. Ratner is also an active member of the MC community as a worker at the fitness center, a member of MCTV and President of the Communication Club. As shown by his involvement on campus, he advocates for bringing more collaboration and opportunity to students on campus to come together and have some fun times.

“Something that I recognize that should be here is more engagement of fun activities, things that people do on the side,” Ratner said. “We should have a film festival, or something personally I want to do is try to get WRCM on school speakers. We have a great radio channel, I don’t hear it anywhere. We should have it playing in the gym, in Lockes, just to bring a sense of ‘Hey, I can be heard somewhere else’ or, ‘I could be seen somewhere else’.”   

Newly elected VP of Social Life, Gabriela Sandoval, is also determined to create a more fun, interactive campus with different events that welcomes students in a way that she never experienced as an incoming freshman. 

Sandoval is a junior international studies major on a pre-law track involved on campus as a gender advocate for the Women and Gender Resource Center (WGRC), President of Operation Smile, current Vice President of the junior class and a member of Model UN. She noticed her freshman year it was not easy to get acclimated into college life.

“I wish there were more opportunities for me, especially as someone who was super shy coming into college and anxious about going out there and making friends, even so much as going to the dining hall by myself,” Sandoval said. “So, I wanted to make sure I did not leave a kid in the same spot I was in freshman year. I wanted to run to see how I could make our community stronger for kids to meet other kids and have a different college experience than what I had.” 

Some ideas she has include rap battles on the Quad with different clubs on campus and seasonal mixers. She also spoke about the addition of a ping pong table in collaboration with the recreational center to create ping pong teams with prizes and an exciting plan for Spring Fest. 

One big long term goal of Sandoval’s is introducing Thon to campus, a student-run philanthropy event created at Penn State for students to raise money for childhood cancer during the year, culminating in a 46 hour dance marathon. Sandoval also wants to focus on events for fundraising to create education scholarships for younger students in the Bronx. 

A short term goal for Sandoval in the upcoming semester is a collaboration with the dining hall to create cooking classes for every student to learn to cook for themself. 

“We wanted to collaborate with the dining hall to do cooking classes at night so [students] can learn to make simple meals in the comfort of their dorms,” Sandoval said. “I think a lot of kids, especially going into freshman year, don’t know what to make. So, we are going to be starting in the fall, and it will be once a month. During different heritage months, we will be sponsoring different cooking classes for those specific heritages.”

This sense of community and connection is also being emphasized by Montserrat Nicasio, newly elected VP of club administration. Nicasio is a sophomore double major in political science and psychology. She is an active member on campus as a member of the psychology club, Psi Chi psychology honor society, fuerza latina, Model UN and the mock trial team. This involvement on campus is very telling to her commitment to unifying club engagement, which has been difficult in the previous years.  

“Within the student body council as VP for club administration, my main goal is to create a unified hub where students can go and find any club and easily communicate with them,” Nicasio wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “I have heard numerous complaints from fellow students about the difficulty in locating clubs and facilitating connections with them. I am willing to work with all students to give them a voice. My biggest goal is to create a stronger close knit community on campus.”

In order to continue fostering this more inclusive community, the new board is also prioritizing communication and unity with students.

“We want organic conversations, those are the best ideas, when it’s just a one on one conversation,” Ratner said. 

Sandoval emphasizes this point, and is currently working to create her new student life committee. She encourages students interested in creating ideas and engaging in putting events together to send her a message. 

As a relatively younger student government council, comprised of many sophomores, the team is looking forward to growing and starting to work together to foster a well-functioning community for every student on campus. 

“When you come to college you realize how big of a melting pot it is, with different cultures and different people from across the US, there is so much to highlight on this campus,” Riley said. “All those specific communities, talents and arts that people have to offer should be celebrated and highlighted. So, a unified community is what that could celebrate– all those different things that make this campus so good.”