Interview with Samantha Ficarelli (she/her) by Lex Rizzo (he/him)
Samantha: “I’m Samantha, I’m a freshman. My major is earth science education, and my pronouns are she/her/hers.”
Lex: What personal experience or journey brought you into your current role at SUNY New Paltz?
“I think a lot of it came from the pandemic. I felt New Paltz would be safe for me. I had a lot of anxiety about getting sick, and getting other people sick, and I felt like New Paltz would be there to protect me when I felt a lot of other colleges weren’t doing that. So, I definitely attributed to the pandemic.”
What issues or challenges are you confronted with?
“I’m part of a long distance relationship but I don’t feel like it has a lot of issues, it is just sometimes like a little sad to be far apart. As far as challenges go here, I think founding my place here has been a challenge. Finding people who are like me or have similar interests as me has been definitely hard.”
Why do these challenges exist?
“I think when you move to a new place, I think everyone struggles a little bit with finding who they are and who they want to be around. You got a chance to do something new, because no one here knows you really. I just think it’s a part of how life works.”
What challenges exist in the larger system?
“The larger system I feel like there’s a lot of challenges recently that people face. There’s racial issues and acceptance is a big thing. I feel like a lot of people are very narrow-minded when it comes to acceptance, so I think that’s a huge challenge where we are now.”
What are the blockages?
“I think there’s a lot of people who have a platform to implement change but don’t use it, and I think that’s hard especially trying to have things change, it just feels impossible because keeping those narrow minded people where they are, kind of wasting their platform is not helping anyone, and I don’t think we’ll see change until people like that don’t have a platform.”
What are the most important sources of success and change?
“I feel really strongly about the environment, and I feel like here I make a lot of environmentally conscious decisions, like I’m not driving when I’m here and I’m using less plastic when I’m here, everything compostable which I really like. Something that makes me feel like success is being able to do things that I like and do things for me instead of doing things for other people when I’m here.”
What would a better university, system, community look like for you?
“Definitely a place where everyone feels that they’re accepted and feels that their voices are important and are heard, especially in New Paltz I like how open everything is, but I feel like we can do better. I think I would be happier, and everyone would be happier if everyone had a way to express themselves freely and how they want to.”
If you could change just a few elements of the system, what would you change?
“I think more direct communication with people who make formal decisions in this area. Being able to get a clear message directly to the president whenever there’s something that needs to be changed or having to not go through so many channels to talk to a specific person.”
What initiative if implemented would have the greatest impact for you, for the system as a whole?
“More grain initiatives, I just feel like if there were more things done, that would stop business from hurting the environment or shift towards more composting, I just feel like we’d be in a better place, and I just feel so strongly about that. I feel like that could be huge, I think that would benefit everyone so.”