If you do not know Ian Rivera and Nick Roloson, you should. The pair of St. John’s students has already tackled the St. John’s chapter of College Democrats, and now plan to run for positions in New York State’s College Democrats.
Rivera, a senior, has been involved with the St. John’s chapter of College Democrats since his sophomore year.
“A friend of mine was a member and suggested that I join,” said Rivera.
“I was kind of looking for something to do on campus, and this seemed like the perfect fit.”
Two years later, he is the current communications director for St. John’s, and the chair for the New York City region.
Roloson, a sophomore, has been involved since his freshman year and is now serving as the chapter’s president.
“I got involved just because it interested me,” he said. “My friend told me I missed the first meeting, so I actively searched out the next meeting. I have been to every meeting since, and I have been running the last 20.”
The College Democrats is an organization that serves as a way for students to aid the Democratic political party, and to help students gain experience while getting involved with government and politics.
Not only is the organization involved with the political side, but it aims to inform the community.
“We serve the community, by making sure everyone knew the issues of the election, and how to vote,” said Roloson.
“We not only serve as a political wing, but as an informative and social service wing.”
Altogether, St. John’s has 20-30 active members coming to meetings, while there are a core group of 10-12 that will come to every event.
“There has been very good feedback from the school and the students,” said Roloson.
After becoming so involved with the St. John’s chapter, it was inevitable that the duo would progress to a higher level. This past fall, Rivera was asked by the National Organization’s vice president if he would be interested in participating in a student trip to gather students in the northeast states, reaching down to Pennsylvania, to campaign for Senator Obama.
He became the defacto organizer of the event, and ended up enjoying it.
“I felt passionate about it so I decided to jump in full-fledged,” he said.
Roloson wanted to make change in the organization by using his own strengths.
“People have said to me I’m good at what I do, so I figured that if you are good at something, you should not let it go to waste,” he said.
“I saw the condition of the state and it was good what we have, but it could be better. I want to make it work a little bit better, that’s why I got involved.”
Rivera is running for president of the College Democrats of New York, while Roloson will not disclose what title he is attempting to win.
“I want to keep my cards close to my chest at this time,” said Roloson.
The election will take place on April 19, the last day of the NY College Democrats’ Convention.
It is being hosted by St. John’s this year, and that has kept Rivera and Roloson extremely busy.
There will be 100-150 students attending the convention from all over New York State, and St. John’s will provide housing, food and entertainment.
“It’s a huge time commitment to get everything together, and I can imagine once we are working for all 63 counties, it’s going to be an even larger time commitment,” said Rivera.
Roloson also balances being president with other commitments at St. John’s.
“Right now I’m the president of College Democrats, a resident assistant in Century Hall, running for a national position and putting together this convention, and by the way, I’m a student,” he joked.
Both are trying to gain as much support as possible for the upcoming election.
“It has opened my eyes being involved in this campaign. It started in late October when I began asking close friends and colleagues what they thought of the idea. Before long, a Facebook group was made to garner support for my campaign,” said Rivera.
“I agreed to run if 50 people joined. By week one there were 80 members, the second week 120.”
Rivera announced his decision to run last week, and will be spending his spring break traveling to 11 upstate chapters, encouraging support, and asking for feedback.
“I want 2009-2010 as a year to build since there are no major state wide elections,” said Rivera.
Roloson and Rivera are both government and politics majors, and although they are unsure of their plans after graduation, they know being involved in College Democrats has changed their lives.
“In terms of my major, it gives me experience in seeing government and politics being carried out,” said Rivera.