Ricketts, Ruelas discuss plans for upcoming term
Madison Jaros | Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Bryan Ricketts and Nidia Ruelas, who take office as president and vice president today, intend to leave their own unique mark on Notre Dame.
Ricketts and Ruelas have waited nearly two months to assume their positions – the pair was elected Feb. 5 on a ticket that focused on student identity and well-being.
The president and vice president hope to address campus sexual assault through programs that will especially emphasize the education of the freshman class, Ruelas said.
The pair will also create an ad hoc department that addresses mental health at Notre Dame, Ricketts said. This new resource, combined with a confrontation of the climate that surrounds students struggling with mental illnesses on campus, aspires to increase the ease with which these students can pursue help.
“We have to say, ok students with mental illness … are we in a climate where they feel comfortable seeking treatment and talking openly about it?” Ricketts said. “And students, when they recognize someone [struggling with mental illness], are they ready to respond? We don’t think we’re there yet. And that’s going to be our goal to make that a reality.”
Ricketts said the team also plans to create an online forum which they hope will allow greater communication between students and campus administrators.
“[The forum will] create a way to bridge the gap between students and administrators, so people know what’s going on and can appreciate the work that administrators are doing for the students, and students have a way to say, ‘These are our concerns,’ and know that they’re being heard,” Ricketts said.
Ruelas said she and her partner are especially looking forward to talking to the students themselves. The team’s office is open “for whoever, whenever, all the time,” she said.
“I think the question [of what will be most exciting] is always so overwhelming, because there are so many things to get excited about,” Ruelas said. “I’m really excited about Senate and chairing Senate – that’s one of my bigger responsibilities. And I’m really excited to get to meet all the representatives from the dorms. But in addition to that, just all the day-to-day things, like interacting with people — that’s really my passion, I think, and why I ran for this position.”
Although the pair’s distinct vision for the next year in office separates them from outgoing student body president Lauren Vidal and vice president Matt Devine, Ricketts and Ruelas hope their term will have a similarly positive effect on campus, Ruelas said.
“I feel that we have a very distinct vision, that’s the one we articulated throughout our campaign, and we firmly stand by that,” she said. “We want to carry that out through the entirety of our term. And in terms of meeting with Matt and Lauren, they’ve been great resources; they’re wonderful leaders. And we just hope that we can fill their shoes and hopefully come with new initiatives to student government and also have the same effect that they had.”