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Student body president encourages freshman participation

| Thursday, August 21, 2014

During her campaign with senior running mate Matt Devine, student body president Lauren Vidal emphasized her intention to institute an “open door policy” within the student government office—and she intends to follow through.

Vidal said she particularly hopes freshmen will utilize this feature of her administration.

Vidal and Devine, Presidential Debate, Emily McConvilleEmily McConville | The Observer

 “I would more than encourage them to stop by our office,” she said. “Our committees are very active and are always looking for members. I would also tell them to stop by activities night at the [Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center]. I think that there, the freshmen get the best understanding of the sheer magnitude of groups that the University has to offer.”

Underneath the umbrella of student government departments, there are two groups specifically created for freshmen to be in a leadership position and play an active role in Univeristy life.

One is the Freshman Class Council (FCC). FCC is run through the Student Activities Office (SAO), not student government, but is responsible for programs and initiatives within the freshman class.

FCC is composed of 29 representatives, one from each dorm. The Judicial Council will hold elections for these positions in mid-September, and later the representatives will elect their officers from within the class council.

“FCC was a great way promote class unity,” former Pangborn FCC representative and sophomore Mallory Dreyer said. “My favorite program we put on was an organized free skate for freshmen at Compton [Family] Ice Arena. Most freshmen didn’t know that there were regular open skate times, and so the event was a great way to introduce them to it.”

The second group designed for first-year students is FUEL, the First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership. FUEL is run as a department within student government, and serves the purpose of introducing freshmen to different areas and departments in student government, Vidal said. 

This year, FUEL is in the process of adopting what its co-director sophomore Louis Bertolotti described as “a few new approaches.”

“There will be a variety of new opportunities for leadership positions, and we aim to make the body a much slimmer, more efficient body capable of making real positive change on campus,” Bertolotti said.

Vidal said making participation in FUEL a worthwhile and all-inclusive experience for first-year students is a goal of her administration.

“[FUEL is] a wonderful opportunity,” Vidal said. “We’re working this year to make it a microcosm of how student government more broadly works, emphasizing policy changes and how policy can be turned into initiatives.” 

The group will allow freshmen to participate not only in their own department but also in another, to integrate them more fully into student government work, FUEL co-director sophomore Marisa Olsen said in an email.

“Students will be on the FUEL department as well as another department that carries out initiatives that they feel will improve student life at Notre Dame,” Olsen said.  “…Being on FUEL gives them the opportunity to make a huge difference on campus, which is pretty exciting as a freshman.”

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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