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McCormick, Rocheleau take control of office

Mel Flanagan | Friday, April 1, 2011

Student body president Pat McCormick and vice president Brett Rocheleau wasted no time implementing their campaign promises, starting with a reinstatement of the much-missed quarter dogs on the first day of their yearlong tenure.

The minute their term began at midnight, McCormick and Rocheleau brought back the beloved quarter dogs to the Huddle in the LaFortune Student Center. Rocheleau said this immediate change demonstrates the tangible ways student government can assist students.

“They [the quarter dogs] will be staying for good now,” Rocheleau said.

Although the return of quarter dogs marks a significant accomplishment, McCormick and Rocheleau hope to achieve much loftier goals for the remainder of the school year.

The pair has already met with University President Fr. John Jenkins and Director of Sustainability Heather Christophersen to expand on and improve the University’s current sustainability strategy.

“We’re hoping to have a plan by the start of next fall for the University and the community to reduce its carbon emissions, as well as a number of other aspects of greening ND,” McCormick said.

Instead of keeping the proposal solely between student government and the administration, McCormick said he and Rocheleau have begun working with leaders of campus environmental clubs to integrate student voices into major decisions.

“Student government doesn’t just want to speak for you, student government wants to amplify your voice,” McCormick said. “We’ve been trying to work with these different groups to really fight for a student place at the table in these decisions.”

McCormick and Rocheleau also plan to expand on the University’s present cooperation with the West Side Food Security Council, a coalition of 16 community leaders and six Notre Dame students.

So far, the council has worked to improve food availability on the west side of South Bend, one of the most underprivileged areas of the community. However, McCormick said the coalition, especially the community leaders, would like to expand it into a community-wide effort.

Projects like the coalition will build upon the community relationships established during the term of outgoing student body president Catherine Soler and vice president Andrew Bell, McCormick said.

“We’re incredibly grateful to them [Soler and Bell],” he said. “It’s a great start to what we hope will be a continuing partnership with students and community members.”

In addition, McCormick and Rocheleau will hold another Playing for Peace game when the men’s lacrosse team takes on Georgetown in Arlotta Stadium April 10. McCormick said they want to continue to draw attention to the renewed violence in Sudan, especially in the Abyei region of the country.

“We’re trying to say that student government has really launched this unprecedented effort of trying to amplify student voices on a national level as well,” he said. “We have met with people high up, we’ve taken student voices there before and we want to continue to say ND students are doing everything they can to spotlight Sudan.”

The Playing for Peace initiative also ties in with long-term goals for McCormick and Rocheleau’s term. Rocheleau said he and McCormick are looking forward to planning a Playing for Peace benefit concert for a social justice cause yet to be determined.

McCormick hopes to cooperate with the Student Union Board (SUB) on this project as a means of unifying SUB and student government into one cohesive student union.

But the overall objective of his presidency, McCormick said, will be to redefine the general perception of student government at Notre Dame.

“The goal is to try to see whether we can convince students that it might be worth re-imagining the limits of the generally cynical estimates of the difference students can make through student government,” he said.

McCormick said he would like to see the University fulfill President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh’s vision of Notre Dame as both a crossroads and a lighthouse.

“It should be a crossroads, a place where all the ideas of the world can intersect and be debated and discussed, but also a lighthouse, a place that can stand apart and serve as the conscience for higher education in the U.S.,”McCormick said.