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Student gov’t tradition strong

Staff Editorial | Thursday, April 2, 2009

April 1 marked more than Fools’ Day at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s this year. On Wednesday both schools installed new student leaders, as Grant Schmidt became student body president at Notre Dame and Jenny Hoffman assumed the office of student body president at Saint Mary’s.

At Notre Dame, the transition marks the continuation of a new “line of succession” in student government. Schmidt, the now-former student body vice president, moved from the No. 2 to No. 1 position in student government.

This line of succession may prove to be a benefit to Notre Dame, if Schmidt and newly-installed vice president Cynthia Weber follow in the tracks of the former-student body president Bob Reish-Schmidt administration.

Reish and Schmidt had success this year on several fronts. Among their tangible accomplishments were the College Symposium held this weekend, solidifying a plan to put printers in all dorms, expanding the Last Lecture series and a change in the Constitution allowing student political clubs to campaign for their party’s candidates.

But it’s the intangibles that were perhaps more important. The Observer commended Reish and Schmidt in the Dec. 2008 Insider on student government for being “more approachable” than prior administrators. They forged strong and beneficial relationships with administrators, community leaders and students.

The groundwork laid by Reish and Schmidt should prove an asset for Schmidt and Weber in the coming year, if they maintain the strong relationships and diligence that characterized the past year.

At Saint Mary’s, former student body president Mickey Gruscinski and vice president Sarah Falvey perpetuated a divided front during the past year. The debate earlier in the year over the stipend caused a rift not only between the students and their government, but also between Gruscinski and Falvey and their Board.

Lauren Theiss, former chief of staff, said earlier this year: “One of the biggest challenges we have faced this year is the cohesiveness of our Board. We are all strong and independent women, but we all need to work on listening to others and being open to other members’ ideas and opinions.”

The Executive Board, who brought the stipend to the Board of Governance (BOG) for the vote, did manage to reintegrate itself with the Board; however, the Board as a whole has had trouble reconnecting with the student body.

The new Student Government Association (SGA) Constitution – having been recently revised, giving government a more accessible and understandable name – does not address the stipend, but the new administration said during their campaign that they would not be taking any compensation for their work.

Now Hoffman and student body vice president Meg Griffin should make their administration more accessible to students. By creating a more transparent student government, where students’ voices can be heard and the decisions of the Board are made in a timely manner reflecting the opinions of the students as a whole, they may be able to bring the two bodies back together.

At both campuses, the opportunity for strong and positive student leadership was created Wednesday with the installation of the Schmidt-Weber and Hoffman-Griffin administrations, and The Observer hopes both pairs will follow through on their promises.