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Group contemplates merging with Senate

John Cameron | Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Council of Representatives (COR) held a preliminary discussion Tuesday regarding streamlining student government by fusing the Council with the Student Senate.

Student body president Pat McCormick said the restructuring would allow greater interaction between the policy and programming sides of student government.

“There are many parts of the Student Union that are duplicative or have changed over time in ways that I don’t think are as transparent or accessible to students as they should be,” he said. “[The merge] would give all wings of Student Union a voice in the policy making, and there would be the opportunity for the whole group to come together and interact.”

Oversight chair Ben Noe said the tentative change would eliminate the Council and add new positions to the Student Senate.

“It’s being considered that the voting members of COR would be infused into Senate as voting members of Senate,” he said. “There are 15 voting members of COR, and five are already voting members of Senate. So, we’re talking about adding 10 new voting members to Senate.”

Noe said a major problem with the current Senate is its limited representation, especially in regard to seniors and off-campus students. Each constituency currently has one voting member.

“Just taking one group, like off-campus students, the way Senate is structured right now, is in no way fair to off-campus students,” Noe said.

Senior class president Anne Huntington said the fusion — which would create a senate seat for each class president — would allow the presidents to more holistically serve their classes.

“I feel like the class presidents are all pretty capable people,” she said. “We’re able to do more [than programming].”

Gender Issues Committee chair Katie Rose said she is concerned the additional Senate members would give added weight to certain groups’ votes.

“If we have a representative from every dorm, and a rep from all the main parts of COR, aren’t we sort of double counting certain votes?” she said.

Sophomore class president Nicholas Schilling said student leaders’ roles were based on constituency rather than background.

“There’s a difference between a sophomore representative from Keough and the sophomore class president who also lives in Keough,” he said.

Chief of staff Claire Sokas said the change would not create more overlap between policy and programming bodies, but would instead facilitate greater collaboration.

“The idea that there is a line [between the two roles] — I don’t necessarily agree,” she said. “I think [the restructuring] is more about giving everyone an opportunity to work together.”

Student body vice president Brett Rocheleau said the measure would not perfect student government at Notre Dame, but he was confident it would improve its representativeness.

“I don’t think with this new system we’ll reach every student, but I don’t believe there’s a system that could,” he said. “I believe fusing the two will represent more students.”