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Stud. gov’t listens to “whining”

John Cameron | Friday, November 12, 2010

Students had the opportunity this week to air their complaints to student government representatives during the first Whine Week.

Student government posted student leaders around campus to field questions and take suggestions for improving the Notre Dame experience.

“We have been in the dining halls, LaFortune, and we’ve had a member of student government go to almost all the Hall Council meetings, and we’ve also had suggestion boxes in the office,” student body president Catherine Soler said. “Right now we’re in the compiling process.”

Soler said Whine Week, a new event this year, was a result of discussion in Student Senate about the need for improving dialogue between student government and the student body.

“Actually the idea came out of Senate, just conversations about how people don’t know what student government does, or don’t know how to communicate with us, we figured it would be our responsibility to reach out to them, to kind of open up the channel of communication between students and student government,” she said.

Student body vice president Andrew Bell said student feedback is essential to having effective student leadership.

“I think we can sit in here and try to think of ideas to change student government all day, but it wouldn’t be as effective as going out and listening to students directly,” he said.

Soler said that the most frequent suggestions involved dining halls, campus venue hours and campus safety.

“We’ve gotten a lot of dining hall suggestions,” she said. “A lot of other things too. Some safety things, there’s not enough lighting at certain parts of campus, and there were a lot of calls to open up the tunnels. There was a suggestion to get a “Red Box” movie rental location in LaFun, and I got a lot of responses about keeping different hours for venues at LaFun.”

While most of the suggestions pertained to the more daily aspects of campus life, Bell said there were also some more bizarre complaints.

“I think the best one I got was I think from Zahm,” he said. “Someone complained their roommate was abducted by aliens but the administration wouldn’t believe them and come to their aid or something like that.”

Regardless of how outlandish the suggestion, he said student government would be looking into every one of them.

“Even though we’ve seen some farfetched ones, we’re going to look through every complaint and consider which are the ones that can be fixed now and what long term problems we should address and go from there,” he said.

Soler said collecting feedback highlighted the need for greater communication between students and student leaders.

“It’s been interesting for us because there’s a lot of things we’re hearing that we have answers to or have been addressed in the past,” she said. “I think it’s just a sign that we’re not communicating well enough with them with information they should be privy to.”

Soler and Bell encouraged students to bring questions, suggestions and complaints to student government at any time.

“We’re always available in our office to come up and talk to us, and we’re available personally by e-mail or on our student government e-mail,” Soler said.