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New leaders set goals for the year

Mary Kate Malone | Monday, April 3, 2006

Student body president Lizzi Shappell and student body vice president Bill Andrichik savored the first day of their term in sweatpants as they settled into their new offices Saturday as the chief leaders of the student body.

“I think it’s gonna take a few days for it to sink in that it’s Bill and I and not [former student body president] Dave [Baron] and I, which has been the norm for me,” said Shappell, who was student body vice president under Baron. “We’ve taken over [at] a time where there’s some big issues.”

The former co-rec football teammates describe their administration as a “working relationship” that will be “proactive” in its initiatives, especially when pushing for better community relations – the issue Shappell believes will define her administration.

“I would say in Dave and I’s administration, we laid the groundwork,” Shappell said. “Now Bill and I have the opportunity to take that and form it how we would like to leave it for future student governments.”

Shappell and Andrichik will attack the community relations initiative on all fronts – most notably by enhancing the lines of communication between the South Bend Common Council and Notre Dame students.

“We want to establish the idea that in the future, if there are going to be any major ordinances [or] major acts by the city that ultimately affect students, that they aren’t done in a manner that doesn’t take into account student voice,” Andrichik said, referring to the amendment to the disorderly house ordinance passed this summer by the Council placing stricter rules on off-campus parties.

Andrichik said the most effective way to do this is to open the lines of communication between the city and the students whether with the Common Council, its subcommittee on community relations, neighborhood watch groups or the South Bend police.

“Hopefully with our increased contact with [these groups] … there will already be that channel of conversation open so they’ll choose that route in the future,” Andrichik said.

And Shappell has not given up on addressing the ordinance itself – a point of concern among many off-campus students, she said. The amended ordinance allows for an eviction after the first offense – a provision Shappell wants to change.

“If it’s by changing the ordinance itself or working with those who enforce the law, [we want the ordinance] to better reflect that [more fair provisions],” Shappell said. “Either way we’d be pleased.”

Though progress on the community relations issue might be abstract, Shappell and Andrichik have more tangible priorities that they started tackling immediately after they were elected in the general election Feb. 13.

Shappell has started taking steps to ensure that “a permanent voice for minority students on policy issues” is established in the coming weeks. This comes after the Student Senate’s rejection of a resolution calling for the creation of a permanent Minority Affairs committee at their meeting Wednesday.

“We’re putting together somewhat of a focus group of students to offer all options possible for how to integrate the Minority Affairs committee and Diversity committee[‘s] agendas into permanent structures in the Constitution,” Shappell said. “We’re working with minority and majority students to see the most effective structure.”

The resolution that would have made the current ad-hoc Minority Affairs committee permanent was criticized by senators for not drawing a clear enough delineation between Minority Affairs committee and the Diversity committee.

“We realized we didn’t put in enough time to see what would be the best structure,” Shappell said. “I’ve always wanted to see permanent minority voice on policy issues.”

Andrichik has also been in talks with Notre Dame Food Services [NDFS] to create a list of 9 or 10 potential additions to the current Grab-and-Go selection. Students will be given a survey to determine the most popular choices and then the top three or four will be added in the fall.

“Food Services has been extremely encouraging and wanted to work with us on this,” Andrichik said. “Since we got started on it so early, they can start right away with the new school year.”

The College Readership Program was the brainchild of the Baron administration and a point of contention in recent weeks due to student government’s funding of it.

The program will start this fall, Shappell said, pending approval by the Financial Management Board. She said she has no reason to believe FMB would deny funding for the program, which will bring 1,600 copies of USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times to various locations every weekday.

“We are working with Food Services and students and USA Today College Readership for an effective recycling and awareness campaign encouraging students to recycle their paper for other students so everyone who wants to read a paper is able to,” Shappell said.

Other initiatives the pair plans on tackling before the school year’s end are pep rally student seating issues, pre-pep rally student-alumni receptions and wider student access to the alumni contact network – a lofty project that will require a great deal of time and coordination, Andrichik said.

“That doesn’t necessarily have the fall deadline, but it will take a lot of time,” he said. “It involves cooperation from students, the Career Center, Alumni center, the administration and [the Office of Information Technology].”

Shappell said students should be excited about the new administration because “we will bring results.”

“With our experience we’re able to hit the ground running like few student governments I can think of in the past,” Shappell said. “We have a fantastic group of people around us with lots of experience and lots of new ideas. Even above and beyond our platform, students will see change next year.”