Interview with Lex Rizzo, Freshman, Undeclared major, He/Him by Sam Ficarelli, Freshman, Earth Science Education major, She/Her
What personal experience or journey brought you into your current role at SUNY New Paltz?
Based on my own experience, I thought that New Paltz had a very diverse community and a very accepting community which made me lean toward going to college here. I wanted to look into a good education major or psychology major or any art majors and I thought New Paltz was a good place for it so that’s what landed me here.
What issues or challenges are you confronted with?
Even though New Paltz is a great place for acceptance there are still some areas for improvement for like how students deal with mental health and fitting into the right groups of people. Not being able to fit in to certain spaces can be challenging for me.
Why do these challenges exist?
I feel like these challenges exist because a lot of people don’t like to delve into the unknown. People like to stick to what they are comfortable with which is totally valid, but people should be giving others a chance. Let’s say that they’re going through a mental health struggle they might feel like they must prove that they’re still worthy of accomplishments.
What challenges exist in the larger system?
Challenges in the larger system would be social system where there’s a lot of oppression. A lot of people face struggles and have some sort of oppression that they may be dealing with, or they may be at a disadvantage because of the oppression.
What are the blockages?
I guess there’s a lot of ignorance and a lot of people feel like there are much more important issues at hand which is in the way.
What are your most important sources of success and change?
I think the most important sources of success and change is that we all need to work together even if we have different views. We all need to come to a compromise and a middle ground.
What would a better (university or community) system look like for you?
A better system would look like students being able to reach out more and being able to have more sources available to them. Having more spaces that can allow them to be accompanied by people like them as well.
If you could change just a few elements of the system, what would you change?
In terms of mental health, you can prepare students through optional classes. They would be classes to help with coping with mental health. These classes could teach different exercises or sometimes movie nights or learning how to do something. Just small classes that can help us learn how to cope because some of us are not equipped with that.
What initiative, if implemented, would have the greatest impact for you? For the system as a whole?
I think if students start to talk about this more it will start an uproar. The more things are talked about that would be a good initiative just to have people talk. That can have a great impact and can flare up the system.
Who else do we need to talk to? (optional)
We can always talk to the administration about these things.
What was most surprising or unexpected?
I didn’t feel totally surprised by anything from my interview with Lex. During our mind map activity, I remember him talking about how important mental health is to talk about and how we should be more aware of the struggles people may have. I knew how he felt about these issues going into the interview.
What touched me? What connected with me personally?
I really think mental health is so important and should absolutely be talked about especially on a college campus. It’s very important to continue the conversation about mental health even if it is an uncomfortable conversation for some.
Moving in and out of your interviewee’s field, what did you notice about yourself?
I’d like to think that I am a very good listener. I am always open to new ideas and I like to think about things from a different perspective. I found that I was keeping my mind open and just listening for what Lex had to say and how he felt during the interview.