Best Buddies Chapter
Club & Greek

Best Buddies Chapter Strives to Become University-Recognized Club

The Best Buddies chapter of Monmouth University is awaiting approval from the Student Government Association (SGA) in order to become recognized as an official club after their interest meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

According to their official website, Best Buddies is an organization that promotes friendships by pairing members with a buddy, a person with an intellectual and developmental disability such as Autism or Down syndrome. David Fasolino, a freshman history education student and Vice President of the chapter, said that bringing the chapter to the University began as an idea in fall of 2018.  The process officially began once Fasolino contacted the staff of Best Buddies in New Jersey.

According to Brianna Thorn, a junior interdisciplinary student and President of the Best Buddies chapter, starting a club and becoming approved by SGA.

Thorn said that the approval process begins with presenting to the SGA Board.  After listening to the presentation and viewing the roster, SGA will decide whether Best Buddies becomes a formal club on campus.

Amy Bellina, the Director of Student Activities, said that the Best Buddies Executive Board has been in communication with SGA prior to their presentation. The e-board prepares any expected questions, answers to those questions, and logistics of the presentation.

Bellina said, “If for some reason there are questions about Best Buddies that were unanswered for some reason, [SGA] could tell them to come back…if it’s a ‘no,’ they instituted recently an appeal process.”

Thorn said, “Basically Best Buddies is trying to raise awareness and promote inclusion because often times that doesn’t happen, especially in college.”

Plans include hosting events such as a friendship ball and a friendship walk. However, these plans, as well as pairing members with a buddy, will be halted as the e-board awaits approval from SGA. “We don’t want to not get approved and everything goes to waste,” said Fasolino.

Best Buddies is already an established club at Seton Hall University, The College of New Jersey, and Princeton University. Fasolino said, “Unfortunately [Best Buddies] is only at three high schools and two middle schools, so it’s not very popular in New Jersey.” The decision to approve Best Buddies at Monmouth will expand the organization’s presence across the state.

The e-board is also holding off their next meeting until after the anticipated approval by SGA.

Although plans cannot be executed until after approval, Fasolino and Thorn are looking to partner with local high schools in order to find buddies to pair members with. “We are right now looking to partner with high schools that have 18-21 year old programs or with The Arc of Monmouth for adults with special needs,” said Thorn. “Worst comes to worst, we can just individually ask people throughout the community, but we’re trying to get as many buddies as possible because a lot of people are interested in being buddies.”

Fasolino and Thorn have reached out to Harbor School, a special needs school in Eatontown. According to Fasolino, the principal is on board for a potential partnership. The partnership is expected to finalize by the beginning of March.

Fasolino said that he has a good feeling Best Buddies will get approved by SGA, as approximately 80 students have signed up since the interest meeting. He hopes the impact of Best Buddies on its members will mirror his own experience of forming a friendship with a buddy.

“It takes a special person,” he said. “You’re honing friendships with kids with disabilities completely different from us. I did [Best Buddies] in high school, and ever since then I’ve always loved working with kids with special needs…It certainly taught me to appreciate my life.”

Thorn said, “Best Buddies is starting to grow, which is a nice thing to see that a lot of people are interested in it… We’re just excited it’s finally starting. It was a very long waiting process, and now we finally got the ball rolling. We’re excited and we’re happy that so many people are interested.”