Student government leaders turn over roles
Marisa Iati | Monday, April 2, 2012
In April 2011, newly elected student body president Pat McCormick and vice president Brett Rocheleau began enacting an ambitious plan to transform student government. Sunday, McCormick handed the reins to Rocheleau, now student body president, and incoming vice president Katie Rose.
McCormick said his administration sought to unite student government, augment its constituent services capacity and “build a kind of student government capable of building a Notre Dame for the 21st century.”
Through reforming elections and fusing the Council of Representatives and Student Senate, McCormick said his team cut through the red tape that had accumulated in student government.
The Department of Constituent Services addressed issues of convenience through projects such as restoring the price of quarter dogs to 25 cents and hosting Puppy Days and Circus Lunch, McCormick said.
“Our hope for the Department of Constituent Services was that it would serve as the front door to the student government office,” McCormick said. “Through the leadership of [sophomore department director] Heather Eaton and her Constituent Services team, we’ve seen, I think, an enormous increase in the ability of student government to deliver on constituent service needs.”
McCormick said student government advocated for a University sustainability strategy, promoted the Playing for Peace initiative and proposed a peace summit and charity benefit concert, tentatively titled “3.17,” to administrators.
“We have submitted the proposal [for 3.17] to the University, and the University now is pursuing its own due diligence, as it would for any project of this scope,” he said. “It’s been positively received, and we’re grateful to the administration for considering it.”
McCormick said his and Rocheleau’s 2011 campaign centered on students’ hopes that Notre Dame could serve as a crossroads where ideas could intersect and a lighthouse that could serve as the conscience of higher education.
“From the beginning of when this journey began to where we sit today, I think that my greatest hope for student government was that we might be able to … serve as a means for students to realize their own greatest hopes for Notre Dame,” McCormick said. “If there’s even one student who believes still in that greatest hope that we have for Notre Dame, then the work goes on and the hope lives on.”
The death of sophomore Sean Valero last spring was the most challenging experience of his term, McCormick said.
“Any time that there’s a student death, that is the most challenging part of serving in student government,” he said. “And I think at the same time, it’s consistently those times of tragedy where we most see the Notre Dame family coming together.”
The incoming student government team is uniquely suited to furthering the outgoing administration’s vision, McCormick said.
“I think that one of the greatest gifts of all has been getting to work alongside of such an extraordinarily gifted and talented team,” he said. “To the extent that we have made progress in realizing the vision that brought us all together in the first place, it’s because of their leadership, and I’m beyond excited to see not only where Notre Dame will take them next, but where they will take Notre Dame.”
During his time at the University, McCormick said he has learned Notre Dame is uniquely capable of educating students’ minds and hearts.
“There is no university more capable of being a transformative force for a world deeply in need than the University of Notre Dame,” he said. “That’s our project and that’s our family, and I think that my hope is that the next generation of students at Notre Dame will find it to be the journey of a lifetime.”
McCormick, who will graduate in May, said he will continue a few projects during the remainder of his time at Notre Dame and will participate in a research project in Ireland in the fall. He said he will then pursue a master’s degree in forced migration and refugee studies at Oxford University.
“It has been the greatest honor of my life so far to serve the student body of this extraordinary University,” McCormick said. “Notre Dame will without a doubt be with me for the rest of my life. It has been formative in ways that I could never have imagined, and I couldn’t be more grateful for not only the place itself, but the people who make it.”