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Group discusses awareness tactics

Sonia Rao | Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Members discussed possible ways to generate interest in student government during Tuesday’s meeting of the Council of Representatives (COR) in LaFortune.

Student body vice president Bill Andrichik said recent Student Senate meetings have raised concerns about how aware students are of opportunities within student government.

He pointed to several instances of “inconsistency” that could contribute to an apathetic attitude towards student government. These included “inconsistency in Judicial Council representatives in the dorms [with] a lot of people [not knowing] who they are” and “inconsistency in hall council, and not all of the dorms having serious hall council meetings regularly enough in order to have enough in order to get information out throughout the dorm,” Andrichik said.

Student Union Board (SUB) manager Pat Vassel agreed there is a need to generate more understanding and interest about student government.

“We need to do a better job in letting them know what we’re doing,” Vassel said. “I’d be willing to bet that 60 percent of people on campus don’t know that if you want to plan a major concert you’ll want to get involved with SUB.”

Vassel also said the “organization spotlights” introduced in COR meetings have shown that even student leaders are in need of more information about other government branches.

Several suggestions were put forth on how to spark student interest, including organizing participatory events, initiating town hall meetings, sending updates via email and advertising on-line vacancies in student government positions.

Student body president Lizzi Shappell suggested that further suggestions on generating student interest could be discussed next week.

Bryan Lowery gave an overview of Hall Presidents Council (HPC) as the organization spotlight for the week, which he said is “one of the largest programming bodies on campus [and] largest groupings of student leaders on campus” with representatives from all 27 residence halls.

HPC helps to fund and plan residence hall events, including signature events such as the Dillon Pep Rally, Keenan Revue, McGlinn Casino Night and Keough Chariot Race, Lowery said. They are also involved in smaller dorm events, which often happen two to four times a week.

Lowery said HPC has been involved in organizing pep rallies for that past 10 years, and this year the pep rallies were “maximizing capacity of the Joyce Center all the way up to sometimes 7,000” throughout the season.

“Attendance was surprisingly high, which made some of the negative feedback [HPC received about the pep rallies] somewhat out of place,” he said.

In addition to being involved in Notre Dame football through the pep rallies, Lowery said HPC also endorses other athletic programs by linking dorms to athletic functions, as coaches and players will come to HPC asking for dorm support for big games.

In one example, Lowery showed the student attendance for women’s soccer games going up about 110 percent after HPC encouraged dorm involvement.

In addition to lobbying for athletic support throughout the dorms, HPC can also act as a “base unit” for other organization events, Lowery said.