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Reish gives last State of Union address

Madeline Buckley | Thursday, March 26, 2009

Student body president Bob Reish said improving the relationship between students and their representatives in student government was a central focus and an accomplishment of his term in office during his final State of the Student Union address to Student Senate Wednesday.

Reish will step down from his position on April 1, and student body president-elect Grant Schmidt will fill the role.

Although the student body president generally delivers the final State of the Student Union in February, Reish said he preferred to speak during the last week of his term.

Reish said his transition to leading the student body last April was difficult because he did not come to office with the experience of being student body vice president or chief executive assistant, which is traditionally the pattern.

But because Reish and student body vice president Grant Schmidt “broke the tradition” of the succession of power in student government, Reish said the team brought new ideas to their respective roles.

“It took us time to get used to all the administrators,” he said. “But it allowed us to get a fresh perspective.”

This perspective led him to question the disconnect between the student body and student government, Reish said. As a result, he said he sought to create a perception among students that student government is working for the student body.

Reish said student government administrations that have been around for a while tend to lose their connection with the student body.

“[Student government’s] job is to serve the students,” he said. “This year, we’ve laid the foundation. Most work this term has been connecting to student body.”

Reish cited the creation of the ad hoc committee, the Student Outreach Committee, as a measure he took to bridge the gap between students and student government. However, he noted the committee will not continue in its current form when Schmidt takes office on April 1.

Reish said the student surveys – administered by the Student Outreach Committee – have allowed students to offer their input to student government.

“The student survey, kind of like my little baby, has helped us further projects along,” he said. “Students saw their efforts make a difference.”

Student input helped student government to make strides in revising the University’s sexual assault policy, Reish said.

Reish said the DVD rental program his administration implemented this year also has increased the visibility of student government among students.

Because the rentals are available in the student government office on the second floor of LaFortune Student Center, Reish said the program brought students up to the second floor to get to know the members of student government.

“We brought people to the second floor of LaFortune,” he said. “We changed that and that’s pretty cool.”

Reish said he hopes the DVD rental program will continue to be a vehicle to increase dialogue between the student body and student government.

Reish thanked the senators and committee chairs for their work in helping to reach the goal of strengthening the connection between student government and the student body.

“For all of you, I wish the best of luck,” he said. “Thanks for a good year.”