By Aidan Mastandrea
The members of the College’s student government had the opportunity to rub elbows with a few of New Jersey's politicians as they held their general body meeting in the State house in Trenton on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
After traversing the long hallways, the students found their way to one of the many committee rooms where the meeting would be held. The sun was just shining through the majestic stained glass windows as the proceedings began.
This was an honor that the College’s student government had not received in many years, and just being welcomed by the State house was very important to some cabinet members.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said sophomore political science major and Vice President of Governmental Affairs Jared Williams.
Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and Mercer County Commissioner Kristen MClaughlin were there to greet the nearly 60 students in attendance.
Hughes spoke to the crowd, looking to inspire the next generation of leaders in this country.
“Clashing at every opportunity is not the way to get things done,” Hughes said. “The way to get things done is through cooperation and moving together.”
Senior political science major and Executive President Dylan Chiddick sat at the front of the room, surrounded by the rest of the cabinet members, providing order, as the rest of the assembly looked on.
One of the first things on the agenda was discussing the possible passing of a new resolution. This would give Williams the ability to lobby state government to pass The College Mental Health Services Act, a law that looks to put a focus on students mental health.
The act “opens a grant program for public institutions to apply for, to receive funds to expand their mental health services on campus,” according to Williams.
During the 2020–2021 school year, more than 60% of college students met the criteria for at least one mental health problem, according to a study done by Healthy Minds Network. As budgets change and schools try to allocate funds, the College’s student government, and Williams especially, wants to make sure that student’s mental health is a top priority.
“This resolution emphasizes our support for mental health at [the College] and shows how we know that students are struggling and we want to help any way we can,” Chiddick said.
After a quick adjournment, New Jersey state Senator Linda Greenstein paid a visit to talk about her background along with giving words of wisdom. The students listened eagerly as Greenstein described her journey from Vassar College to Georgetown Law center and eventually to where she is now.
“‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,’ those are the things that stuck with me,” said Greenstein. She further explained how late President John F. Kennedy inspired her to get into politics.
The opportunity to convene in the statehouse is something the students will never forget, but their job still remains the same. The Colleges’ student government will continue to meet weekly and look to help the school and the state.
“I am so impressed by this student government,” Greenstein said. “They are so organized and have so many people involved.”