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Transfer student runs for vice president

Becky Hogan | Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Junior Ashley Weiss has been a student at Notre Dame for a little more than two semesters – and if elected on Feb. 12, she will be the fourth transfer student in University history to serve as student body vice president.

Weiss is running for vice president on a ticket with current Alumni Hall senator Danny Smith.

She said she decided to transfer to Notre Dame because she wanted to be part of a campus that included a community atmosphere.

“I was looking for a strong Catholic tradition and a unified community aspect,” Weiss said. “That was something I didn’t have previously.”

Since she arrived at Notre Dame for the spring semester of her sophomore year from the University of Rochester, Weiss was eager to become involved in student government.

“I think it’s my nature,” Weiss said. “I’m a leader and I have always pushed myself to the limit.”

Weiss is the coordinator of the upcoming Notre Dame Eating Disorders Conference and was the Arts and Letters Chair for Junior Parents Weekend. At Rochester, Weiss was the freshman president and a member of the Sophomore Class Council.

Weiss made it a priority to get involved in campus life at Notre Dame quickly, and she said she encountered few challenges.

“I had probably the smoothest transition ever…” Weiss said. “It was just a matter of getting involved and putting myself out there.”

Weiss interviewed for a position in student government last spring and was appointed chair of the Senate Gender Issues committee. She said she was qualified for this appointment due to her past experience at Rochester, where she tackled gender relations issues as the freshman representative of the Residence Life Advisory Council.

“Gender issues is the place that touches on home for me … and it’s an issue that needs to be addressed on this campus,” Weiss said.

She hopes to continue her involvement with gender relations by restructuring Freshman Orientation activities. She said she wants to “take the focus away from gender individualized activities,” and focus more on activities to help new students get to know their dorms and students from their sections, then branch out to “quad-size” activities.

“At Rochester, the freshman orientation was gender neutral, but it lacked the family aspect,” she said. “From stories I’ve been told about Frosh-O, the activities can create and maintain a culture of dangerous social behaviors. … It’s about finding a balance between the family aspect and gender relations.”

Weiss said her experience as a transfer student has given her a perspective of “objectivism” and “balance” on student life issues.

“Drawing on both experiences has helped me to address issues of the student body collectively as a whole,” Weiss said.

If she is elected next week, Weiss – along with running mate Smith – hopes to implement a program for students which would allow free music downloads, expand Domer Dollar use at Notre Dame stadium, send the Notre Dame Marching Band to one more away game and improve the football ticket lottery. The ticket also hopes to stimulate dialogue with Health Services about the price of prescriptions and with the University about the possibility of locked tuition rates, Weiss said.

“We bring a fresh perspective,” Weiss said. “When we walk into a room, we know what we are talking about on a multitude of issues.”