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Istvan welcomed into office by ‘fishy’ prank

Andrew Thagard | Friday, April 2, 2004

When then-student body president Libby Bishop stepped into her office on the first day of her term, she discovered a jar of Swedish fish on her desk. The gummy candies were from the previous president, Brooke Norton, as part of a student government tradition of exchanging a ‘fishy’ gift between the outgoing and incoming student body presidents.On Thursday, student body president Adam Istvan wasn’t so lucky.When Istvan opened the door of his office early Thursday morning, the strong smell of fish greeted him. Inside, Istvan found plates caked with tuna fish. Outgoing president Jeremy Lao planted the ‘gift’ with the help of his vice president Emily Chin and chief of staff Pat Corker.”It absolutely reeked,” Istvan said. “There were plates of tuna fish all around the room. It smelled absolutely awful.”Istvan discarded the plates of tuna and went out to talk to Lao, Chin and Corker. He began joking that the trio should have planted some tuna in the ceiling when a horrible thought crossed his mind.Back in the office, Istvan discovered that Lao was one step ahead of him. An open can of tuna was hiding behind the ceiling panels.”[It was] all in good fun,” he said.Former student body presidents Brian O’Donoghue and Pat Hallahan would likely sympathize with Istvan.When O’Donoghue took office four years ago, he opened the top drawer of his desk to find an 18-inch, 10-pound. raw fish planted by Micah Murphy, according to Brian Coughlin, director of Student Activities.”I didn’t really know about [the tradition] as an advisor until they were carrying it around,” Coughlin said.Three years later, Hallahan was in for a similar surprise. On the last night of her term, Bishop hid sardines throughout the office. Hallahan, who had resigned as Bishop’s chief of staff a few weeks earlier in part because of a perceived failure of the president to address the ban on in-hall dances during a Board of Trustees meeting, immediately discovered the ‘gift.’ It reportedly took him a few days, however, to find all the sardines and completely aerate the office.Coughlin said that he didn’t know the origin of the tradition but added that it was going on when he arrived at Notre Dame in the mid-1990s.”Some of the incoming presidents know about it and some don’t,” he said. “If they don’t, it can be kind of a surprise.”