Feelin’ presidential: Rivers ‘15 on Student Forum, first-year cliques and his campaign secrets

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By Ajay Major

Lucas Rivers ‘15, a native of Herkimer, NY and the newly-elected president of the class of 2015, sat down with Editor-in-Chief Ajay Major ‘12 to talk about his first term at Union and the daunting task of representing one of the largest classes in Union history.

How did you find Union?

My dad works in Schenectady, so when I used to go with him to work, I used to see the campus all the time. So, I went and visited it and I loved it, and I did early decision, and now I’m here.

What else are you involved with on campus?

I’m in UNITAS, Focus on First Year and Mountebanks. I’m in the upcoming show, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [abridged].

Favorite Focus on First Year theme?

Last week was what you wish other people knew about Union.

What’s your favorite memory about Union so far?

I did the community service pre-orientation, so I was here for a week beforehand. I really enjoyed it. All my friends who I have now were from [the pre-orientation], so that’s where I made most of my friends. We went to two places each day, so we did Bethesda House, C.O.C.O.A. House, the animal shelter, nursing home, Vale Cemetery, Habitat for Humanity…It was all different places.

When did you decide to run for class president? What was going through your mind?

One of my friends asked me to sign her petition, so I signed it. I honestly don’t remember how I thought about it—I just got the petition and then it sat on my desk for, like, three days without a signature on it, and I thought, this isn’t going anywhere. My friend came in, saw it and she literally went to every door in Richmond and got signatures. So, it was mainly her doing. But I was class president for three years in high school, so I have some background in student government, although it’s obviously different here.

Your campaign secret?

I put flyers in the stalls that said “Flush down the problems of your class,” and “Wipe away.” You know, things like that.

When did you find out about the election?

The day of elections.

What was going through your mind?

Honestly, I thought this was going nowhere, and then I get the email and I’m like, wow.

What’s your impression of Student Forum thus far?

It’s a lot more formal than high school, much more of a business atmosphere. It’s a little daunting; they’re talking about all these different things and I’m like, don’t know the backstory to that, don’t know the backstory to this.

What are you most looking forward to as president of your class?

I’m looking forward to representing the class, as cliché as that sounds. I created a program that we titled U-Teach, where first-years can teach their hobby or favorite activity to other first-years. Say they like cooking Japanese food, they would teach a little workshop on Japanese food one weekend. The possibilities are endless. If they tap dance, if they like to Zumba or whatever, they can do whatever they want and teach other first-years and make new relationships.

What other goals do you have?

I know I want to have a freshmen field-day where dorms compete, like Richmond versus Davidson.

What challenges do you see your class facing over the next four years here?

I’ve noticed there’s a formation of different cliques or groups, which is probably going to happen, but people just stay in those cliques. They don’t reach out, which is why I created the U-Teach program to form different relationships, so you’re not just sticking with your group. If you establish those connections, then more connections will come after Union.

Plans for after Union?

Right now I want to go to law school to do international law or international relations. I mean, I definitely want to go to graduate school of some kind.

Why international relations?

I’m taking Chinese right now and I think it’s really interesting. I really like the idea of working with new languages and new cultures.

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