The Daily Gamecock

Student Body President Reedy Newton focuses on community, communication for her term in office

Reedy Newton spends the majority of her weekdays in Russell House in meetings and working on initiatives for USC’s Student Government. She moves between the Leadership and Service Center and classes at the Darla Moore School of Business, all while staying involved on campus. 

She is a member of Tri Delta sorority and two honor societies, a Capstone scholar, a University 101 peer leader, and on course to get an accelerated masters in mass communications. Despite all that, she still has time to be student body president, working towards her goal to create a community for students where they feel valued and heard. 

“I just really love feeling like I'm a part of something larger than myself. And every organization that I've been a part of has given me that sense," Newton said. "Just that sense of feeling like I'm involved in something that makes an impact to other people, really motivates me and keeps me going.” 

Newton’s running mate, Student Body Vice President Maia Porzio, said she was drawn to the campaign by Newton’s passion.

“I would definitely say her positive energy and the way that she can generate excitement. She's always so kind to everyone that she comes in contact with and makes them feel very welcomed,” Porzio said. 

Once Newton and Porzio officially teamed up in office, they realized that internal communication within Student Government was one issue they wanted to tackle. 

In response, a bi-weekly newsletter to keep members of Student Government up to date on initiatives was created.

“One of her biggest things we want to work on is creating a student government family," Patton Byars, Newton's chief of staff said. "She wanted to make it something we could learn from each other — not hurt each other — and really do something that builds people together on a leadership basis, and at the end of the day, that's what Student Government's meant to do.” Patton Byars, Newton’s chief of staff, said.

Newton wants the entire student body to know exactly what Student Government is doing, making it a top priority. She said she also wants to increase the social media presence of Student Government. 

“I think transparency comes into that too. (Students) don't understand, necessarily, what we do in Student Government because we don't have that visibility, but I want to be open and honest with all the students and be completely transparent,” Newton said.

One success so far in Newton’s term has been the expansion of operation hours at Thomas Cooper Library to 7:30-2:30 am. Newton and other members of Student Government also met with the incoming dean of libraries to talk about improving the hours further. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the library was open 24 hours a day. 

“It's something that the students have expressed that they want. And I know, as a student who's passionate about academics myself, it's something that I wanted, a space where I could be on campus and study late at night,” said Newton. 

Returning Student Government to its pre COVID-19 programming and communications levels is an overarching goal of Newton and her current administration.  

“Really bringing back a lot of the programming that we once had before COVID And kind of re-implementing that this year, such as our mental health programming, safety, transportation, body positivity. Those are all some really important things to ask that we want to make sure that we're capitalizing on and bringing back to the student body,” Porzio said.

Now, a mental health summit is scheduled for the first week of October, during National Mental Health Awareness Week. Newton plans to use this to promote mental health programming already on campus and increase awareness of options students have.

She is a 4th generation gamecock and her parents are South Carolina state representative Weston Newton (R-Beaufort) and member of the USC board of trustees Rose Byuck Newton.

“They've always ingrained in me the values of respect and honesty and integrity — that's something that I've seen in my parents growing up. And I don't think that necessarily has to do with their connection to the university, though, you know, I'm able to see that in their work,” Newton said.  

Now five months into her term, Newton is hopeful for the future and is excited to work along side new university President Michael Amiridis and USC administration to achieve her goals of improving campus for students. 

"I think in this time of transition and change, there is this room for growth and opportunity as a university, and I'm so excited to be able to see what positive change that we're gonna have institutionally going forward," Newton said.