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Reish, Schmidt present to Trustees

Jenn Metz | Friday, February 6, 2009

Student government leaders met with the Student Affairs Committee of the University Board of Trustees to offer updates on key initiatives they presented in their fall meeting, with a specific focus on off-campus safety and security and the State of the Student Union.

Student body president Bob Reish, student body vice president Grant Schmidt and chief executive assistant Karen Koski offered a Power point presentation to the members of the Board with an overview of their efforts toward accomplishing goals of better relationships between members of the Notre Dame and South Bend communities and informing students on how to be safe off campus.

“We’re interested in making students more familiar with their off-campus surroundings and providing them with services to make them more comfortable off campus,” Koski said.

The results of the student survey distributed in the fall showed students were unaware of resources available to guide them through a move off campus, she said.

“We need to address the unawareness factor and make sure people know where to find this information, who to call and how to access the Good Neighbor Guide created by student government,” Koski said.

Reish listed the series of off-campus block parties held earlier in the year, a Winter Break safety forum, and the recent presentation titled on “How to Party Legally” as ways student government has reached out to address these concerns.

He said student government is working to keep the Good Neighbor Guide sustainable by adding other resources, like a “Know Your Rights” guide.

One Trustee voiced the opinion that the Reish-Schmidt administration has focused a lot of effort on off-campus concerns. Reish said about 40 percent of their time is spent on these issues.

Another member of the Board asked about the Community Campus Action Coalition (CCAC) and student government’s involvement with South Bend.

Reish, Schmidt and Koski described the events that took place on campus over the last year where members of the community and students interacted, like the Fall Festival, which brought children from local elementary schools and their families to North Quad around Halloween.

A trustee commented on the difference between serving in the community and for the community.

“It sounds a little self-serving to say we do so much for the community,” the Trustee said.

Another Trustee said it shouldn’t sound like the students’ efforts in the community are just a service project, which sounds “patronizing.”

The three student government leaders also elaborated on their accomplishments in terms of campus technology, the University’s sexual assault policy, intercollegiate networking.

Schmidt described the collaborative effort behind the change from WebMail to Google Mail, or G-Mail, at the beginning of this academic year. Switching to Google’s services have allowed students access to many applications, like Google Documents and Calendar, he said, which can be used to share information and coordinate schedules.

Many of the Reish-Schmidt initiatives this year have been results of the student survey from the fall semester, Koski told the Board.

One of these initiatives, she said, is the Gender Issues Committee’s work on the sexual assault policy, which resulted in a resolution recommending its review that passed unanimously in the Student Senate.

The theme of the Reish-Schmidt campaign, “Bridging the Gap,” extends to connecting Notre Dame’s student government with peer institutions, Reish said.

He informed the members of the Board of his work toward creating a working relationship with other student governments.

Through his networking efforts, Reish said Notre Dame’s student government now has a away to “gather and discuss ideas going on” at the campuses of other colleges.

He said the group of communicating student governments is utilizing Google Groups as an on-line forum for discussion, “which is just another example of how Google is affecting our lives.”

An intercollegiate symposium, scheduled for March, will provide Notre Dame’s student government with “unique interpersonal connection and relationships” with the handful of schools that have committed to participating, Reish said.