By G.Matthew Greco ’17, Speaker of the Senate
On behalf of the College of the Holy Cross Senate:
When asked in the seventh grade what I wanted to be when I grow up, I responded “Speaker of the House.” In between sporting events and ABC evening news with Charles Gibson, I would tune into C-SPAN to catch a glimpse of then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi address Congress, and vowed to be the first male Italian-American to hold the esteemed position. And though prestigious and powerful ambitions such as this are not easily or quickly realized, there are an array of opportunities to get involved in government positions like this while here on Mount Saint James.
For a campus as politically engaged as we are, with students who hold such strong beliefs on contemporary politics and popular college topics, it is disheartening to see such a small number of students actually take action and get involved in Student Government. I am a firm believer that it is we the STUDENTS who the college needs, not the other way around. We are the heart and soul of this institution, we are the ones who make it the prestigious and successful place that it is, and we are the ones who give meaning to it. When I was elected to the Senate my freshmen year, I was thrilled to be a part of an organization where I could express my views on various campus-related topics and serve as an advocate for my fellow classmates. However, I was, and still remain, somewhat disheartened by the lack of awareness and representation that SGA holds here at Holy Cross.
There is a popular misconception that SGA is as an intimidating organization, composed of close friends who are only trying to bolster their reputation. However, based on my personal experience I can say that student government is so much more than a bullet point on a resume. At Holy Cross student government is what you make of it. If you want it to remain stagnant, it will, but if you choose to commit the time and energy, you CAN institute change. Participation in SGA allows you to interact daily with members of the College’s administration and express your thoughts and views on topics sometimes neglected. You learn the intricate and detailed process of how to transform an idea into an actual concrete change. And perhaps most importantly—especially in our contemporary political climate—you learn to engage and work with students whose political ideologies may not align with your own in order to achieve progress.
Being in SGA has allowed me to cross paths with incredibly gifted and intelligent individuals I would have otherwise not encountered. I have acquired a more concrete understanding of the important role that citizens in a community hold and the power of their voice. Finally, I have learned that hard-work and persistence does in fact pay off. Though this last point may appear cliché, I can promise you that after logging over 600 hours since my term began on May 1, I have witnessed several of our organization’s small but meaningful changes take shape to better benefit our campus community. When SGA sought to provide a safer way of transporting upperclassmen back to campus on Thursday nights, we fought for SafeRide and WON. When we noticed that poor lighting on campus posed a safety hazard to students at night, we proposed an initiative to install brighter lights on campus and WON. And most recently when the student body almost lost participation in the Academic Governance Council, we fought to maintain our inclusion and WON! Now more than ever I am convinced that my seventh grade dream of being Speaker of the House some day is not some farfetched dream but rather a real possibility with the skills that I have attained from participation in student government and the passion that I have developed for it.
I now urge my fellow classmates to pursue similar opportunities in SGA. I urge you to take direct action to make your voice heard and not be excluded from decisions that have a direct impact on you. Most importantly I urge you to reject the common notion that you cannot make any real change as an undergraduate student here at the College. In his 2014commencement address to the College of the Holy Cross, alumnus and President Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau ’03 said that there are two very clear choices when approaching situations that frustrate us. One is to “be a critic [who] just throws rocks from the sidelines, which requires very little effort or creativity.” However, he reminds us that “cynicism isn’t the only response…cynicism is a choice, it is just as much of a choice as service to others.” My fellow students, I ask that you refrain from this cynicism and instead make the effort and take the chance to run for student government.
If you feel frustrated with campus changes that you do not agree with, RUN for student government.
If you are tired of the small inconveniences that disrupt your daily college life, RUN for student government.
And if you can you believe your voice is not being heard, RUN for student government.
There are far too many bright minds amongst our student body for their voices not to be heard. Your thoughts and opinions need to be heard just as much now as thirty years in the future when you are a successful alumnus or alumna. Though I am saddened that my time in SGA is dwindling to a close, I look forward to seeing the growth of the organization and the brilliant minds who will lead it.