Today we speak with Kevin P. McCarthy, a recent graduate from Cranford, NJ (Union County) with degrees in Political Science and Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management. He was an RA (Resident Assistant) for three years in Holly Pointe, Chestnut Hall and Triad Apartments. Kevin was also heavily involved in the Student Government Association (SGA) as well as Rowan EMS.
How did you get involved with SGA?
At the federal work-study career fair, SGA had a table looking for student workers. They hired me but I also had an offer from IRT doing something that was a little bit more in [tune with] my major. But, I decided to go with SGA. I ran for the senator-at-large position. It was a mid-semester election. I served one semester as the senator-at-large. Then I ran for vice president of government relations. I’ve been there for three years.
What have you gotten out of being part of SGA personally and professionally?
I helped pass the Student Wellness Fee my sophomore year. It was introduced as a $50 fee and it wasn’t well-discussed in e-board, so it failed miserably at the Senate.
We had our CFO at the time rally against it. It lost by 125 to 10. I spent the rest of the year working with Arielle Gedeon, who [later became] President. At the time, she was the Recording Secretary. I worked with her and a couple of other e-board members in order to get the fee reshuffled and changed. Eventually, we put it up during the series 2 elections for a $30 fee to support Rowan EMS and the Wellness Center in hiring more counselors and physical health providers as well as providing free medications and other free [items] for students. During the series 1 elections, it tied exactly at 250 to 250. So, we put it in front of the Senate. Arielle and I talked for 45 minutes, then we were discussing and debating the bill.
It provided so many critical things like vehicle replacement for Rowan EMS. People spoke out against the Wellness Center charging per visit [preventing students from reaching out for help]. They were planning on charging Insurance in charging a copay. I have good insurance; my mom works for a hospital up north. However, it is one of those in-network kinds where if [the treatment] was connected to the hospital it cost $5, but if it’s not connected in any way it cost $100. So a Wellness Center bill for me would cost over $100. I really advocated for the bill and eventually, it passed.
I also did a couple other things in SGA. I attended the Conference on Student Government Associations in Texas. We actually went right before the pandemic, like March 10. A week later, we were sent home. I went with the Dean of Students, the next SGA Vice President Sarah McClure, the current AVP of Facilities & Operations Liam Cutri-French, and one senator. We thought Covid was not going to be a real thing and would be over in two weeks. But here we are now!
From that, I got the inspiration to start the New Jersey Conference of Student Government Associations NJSGA. We had the first one in 2019 around Thanksgiving.
We had it in the Business Hall. Rutgers New Brunswick and TCNJ came as well as William (Bill) Moen, who’s actually a Rowan alumnus and a current assemblyman from Camden County. He came to do the keynote speech. We took a little hiatus, but last weekend we hosted the second conference of NJSGA. Rutgers New Brunswick, Rutgers Newark, TCNJ, Ramapo, and Drew attended as well. We [aim to] raise fruitful discussion about supporting students and how SGAs should operate.
Luckily, Rowan does really great with shared governance. For example, Arielle has a meeting with President Houshmand every month. The AVP of Academic Affairs meets monthly with the Provost. The AVP of Student Affairs meets with advisor Kevin Koett. We really have very involved faculty that want to know what the students want.
It’s super important to get involved with SGA. We always have openings for our Class Senators and Academic Senators. Every class has four senators, there are four at-large Senators, and every single college has its own Senator.
With everything that you’ve experienced, what has been your most to use what is
Definitely “Rowan Well,” just having the mental health resources available to students is a really big thing. Obviously, it’s taken a long time to see that change, but there were at least two counselors hired, there are more resources available, and they got rid of a waitlist.
After the Rowan Well bill passed, they expanded counseling services to include Victoria St. and in different academic buildings. Rowan EMS also got a new truck. I think they get $3 out of the $30 every semester from every undergraduate student. It really helps a lot.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your SGA experience?
Applications are open for Senator positions. We have every position open except for the College of Science & Math. If you go on ProfLink and look into forms, you can find them. Applications close in September which allows people going through any incoming student orientation to get involved.
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