Schmidt-Weber administration begins term
Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Outgoing student body president Bob Reish worked on major initiatives until his final day in office Wednesday, and he believes diligence characterized his administration.
“We’re working on this Symposium, which is the last possible weekend I could have done something,” Reish said in an interview Thursday.
“There wasn’t a time I was complacent in this position,” he said.
Reish and outgoing vice president Grant Schmidt are also proud that their administration let students know they were accomplishing things that mattered to students.
“Student government has always been effective,” Reish said. “I think we’ve begun to ensure students realize it’s effective. It’s doing something and the perception. It’s not just perception.”
He cited student government as the organization that brought cable to dorms, Domer Dollars to Notre Dame Stadium and newspapers to the dining halls through the College Readership Program.
“I think student government was effective every year since I’ve been here,” Reish said.
However, many students did not credit student government for these successes. “They were definitely productive,” Reish said. “It’s just a matter of informing students that that was student government’s work and that you had a voice in it.”
To ensure students knew student government was working for them, Reish and Schmidt focused on improving communication using a variety of resources.
“I think that strategy that we saw this year was really utilizing all the different channels we have to communicate with students,” Reish said. “One of those was definitely The Observer.”
“[The Observer] was a good venue for us,” Reish said, citing a “common understanding” between his administration and former Observer News editor Jenn Metz.
Reish’s administration emphasized approachability in the hopes that more students can contribute their ideas to student government.
“We have to relate to students and we don’t think of this office as separate from the students,” Schmidt said. “Hopefully we’re approachable in the sense that if you do know we’re in student government and you want to see something done, there’s no way that you would not approach us.”
Reish solicited ideas from students more formally through the student survey. The survey showed students that “when you participate and give us your feedback, we listen,” Reish said.
The survey helped Reish have more power when he presented an idea, he said. “We were able to push things through the University and Student Senate with those results,” he said.
The survey specifically helped Reish ensure that all dorms will be equipped with a printer for the 2009-2010 academic year.
Reish and Schmidt made efforts to cultivate a good relationship with the University administration during their term. “We can’t play the ‘us against the man’ mentality with the administration,” Schmidt said. “There are times that we disagree, but in order to get things done, there’s got to be some sort of dialogue and some sort of understanding between the two.”
According to Schmidt, approachability is Reish’s legacy. “Bob has really expanded on the fact that you can touch students in a different way,” Schmidt said. “You can reach out in a different way whether it’s to other universities or to students who aren’t typically catered to.”
Reish cited freshmen as students who he has made special effort to embrace. “It’s easy to be a senior in this position,” Reish said. “We really branched out to all years, seniors through freshmen.”
However, Reish does not want to talk about his “legacy,” saying that it is dependent on “what sticks here.”
Reish will spend the next two years on an entrepreneurial fellowship in Indianapolis, through which he will work for a small start-up company called Angie’s List. He said that he eventually plans to attend business school.
However, Reish said he will miss his time at Notre Dame. “Since I’m going to be in Indianapolis, I’m going to be coming back for football games,” he said.
Reish said he does not know if he wants to get involved in politics after Notre Dame. “For me, I could see myself being involved in the community, but I’m not sure how much higher than that,” he said.