Administration works to fulfill campaign goals
Megan Doyle | Thursday, December 8, 2011
That was the length of the campaign platform that Pat McCormick and Brett Rocheleau outlined during the spring student body elections.
The document, titled “Hope in Action,” detailed major promises for the team to fulfill when they stepped into their positions in April, but they insisted their platform was feasible.
Since April, McCormick and Rocheleau have accomplished only some of their goals, while others remain abstract.
Playing 4 Peace
The first and most ambitious goal in the duo’s platform was to “make Notre Dame the premier forum for nationally-recognized events uniting athletes, entertainers and policy-makers of behalf of social justice.”
This semester, McCormick’s administration has continued and developed its Playing 4 Peace movement that combines Notre Dame athletics with peace efforts in Sudan.
“The athletics department as a result of Playing 4 Peace has also invested … professional staff support into Playing 4 Peace, which was originally just a project between two athletic teams, student government and social concerns through [the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies],” McCormick said.
The fledgling project now hosts regular events, like a soccer tournament earlier this fall, that are well attended by both students and local community members.
However, McCormick’s campaign touted his plans for a large charity concert in Notre Dame Stadium, which has been relatively unspoken of this semester. McCormick still promised the concert is in the works in student government.
“While there is still work to be done, I am very excited about what is going to happen in January and February of this year,” McCormick said.
Fighting for quarter dogs
Another major item on the McCormick-Rocheleau platform was their plan to expand student government’s capacity to work with constituent services.
“It must also be the case that we not only deliver on issues of a more routine nature, but that we do so even more passionately,” McCormick said. “I think substantively what that looks like is that on midnight of transition, quarter dogs were restored.”
McCormick and Rocheleau did this by the newly created Department of Constituent Services, chaired by sophomore Heather Eaton.
The new department extended the previous administration’s tradition of “Whine Week” into “Whine Wednesdays,” and Eaton collected student opinion via surveys and an online suggestion box.
McCormick and Rocheleau visit Hall Councils in different dorms each week as well.
“We’ve been trying to update dorm by dorm on the progress we’re trying to make in building a new student government this year,” McCormick said.
Rocheleau said he feels these conversations with students and the work in Constituent Services connects to the complaints students have each day.
“It becomes rewarding when I feel like it actually makes a difference, and I enjoy seeing the difference it can make,” Rocheleau said.
Concrete progress — quarter dogs and Puppy Days, for example — have come out of this administration and its constituent services projects so far.
Student safety both on and off campus was another priority for this administration, and McCormick said he has tried to develop the strong relationships the previous administration built with local officials and law enforcement.
“The relationship has been continued to be developed and deepened,” McCormick said. “For the first time, the Safety Summit took place right here on campus on Irish Green.”
The Safety Summit in August was hosted at the Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend in the past. Student met with local police and leaders to talk about how to live safely in South Bend.
Outside of engaging with local law enforcement, McCormick said his administration contributed to city taxi reforms that will protect students in the future.
“These were cases where sometimes student safety was being jeopardized, cases where students were being gauged in terms of their prices,” McCormick said. “What we ended up being able to come up with is something that ultimately emphasizes now a predictable cost structure and accountability on the part of the taxi companies that students know their rights.”
However, the city of South Bend compiled these reforms long before McCormick’s administration began and McCormick’s role was primarily to support the project.
Additionally, students have little input in the reforms themselves.
Highlighted in the 32-page platform is also the promise to “enable students to customize our curriculum.” The University’s curriculum has been a non-issue in the administration’s major projects thus far, and it lies dormant with several other details in the “Hope in Action” blueprint.
The administration’s final promise in its campaign was its most vague — to “amplify student voices in charting a course for the Notre Dame project.”
The promise to “amplify student voices” has seen some concrete results as the administration tries to include the student body in larger conversations.
McCormick and many sustainability clubs on campus participated in conversations surrounding the University’s recent comprehensive sustainability strategy.
However, these conversations began in the Office of Sustainability in 2008, and McCormick’s involvement only began this summer when the plan was in its final stages.
Overall, it is commendable that McCormick and Rocheleau set a high bar for their administration and have made strides toward achieving even the most ambitious goals. However, the student body has yet to see the monumental vision that the duo campaigned on come to fruition. Next, the administration should target its energy into a few actionable projects to leave its legacy on the student body.