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Robinson delivers State of the Student Union address to Senate

| Friday, April 29, 2016

On Wednesday night, student senate met for the final time this academic year to hear the State of the Student Union address from student body president Corey Robinson and to discuss the outgoing administration’s spring report to the Board of Trustees.

Robinson’s State of the Student Union address focused on three main pillars of the Robinson-Blais administration: leadership, partnering with the city of South Bend and service.

“As students we must lead one another in an effort to make our University a national leader that represents the core values and beliefs that we hold,” Robinson said. “The best leadership that I have seen comes from a place of servanthood. Servant leadership allows you to be able to set an example for your fellow Senate members, for your teammates, for your classmates by showing them that you are not afraid to put yourself out there and make a sacrifice for the greater good.”

Robinson said it is important to connect students and administrators with South Bend and its residents.

“The University prides itself on a strong Notre Dame family, and truly the Notre Dame experience is defined by the tenacity and passion of its students and alumni,” he said. “We believe that this feeling of community necessarily extends to our neighbor, South Bend.

“In the past, we have had rather strained relationships with South Bend,” Robinson said. “ … So we are going to strengthen the bond between South Bend and Notre Dame through open communication and mutual participation.”

Robinson referred to the Center of Social Concerns and Riverlights Music Festival as examples of a partnerships created to open South Bend up to students.

“Service is a key component of what it means to belong to the Notre Dame community,” he said. “ … We view our education as preparation for our lives, geared towards serving others.”

Robinson said, ultimately, he hopes student government will be able to effectively use its resources and support from the administration to ignite change.

Next, former student body president Bryan Ricketts, former student body vice president Nidia Ruelas and former chief of staff Sibonay Shewit presented the the report they prepared for the Board of Trustees.

Each semester, the student body president, student body vice president and chief of staff present a report to the Board of Trustees, regarding a prevalent issue on campus. According to Blais, the outgoing administration focused diversity and inclusion in the report.

Ruelas first discussed the campus climate toward diversity and inclusion, citing three trends noticed throughout the development of the Moreau First Year Experience course — lack of community on campus, lack of readiness to have controversial conversations and lack of transparency of institutionalized efforts towards diversity and inclusion.

She said the course was built to help students build relationships to make difficult discussions easier to have.

Shewit addressed the current hiring criteria for faculty, none of which directly address diversity and inclusion.

“With the way they stand, none of these five criteria address diversity, and we all feel this is important … not only to increase diversity in these hirings, or to show the University’s commitment to diversity, but also to ensure that diversity and competency relations are being taken into consideration for these hiring decisions,” she said.

Ricketts addressed the lack of collaboration between student-led and administrative initiatives, which he said impedes the process of achieving the groups’ goals. Ricketts proceeded to discuss five recommendations the report offers.

Ricketts said the first and second recommendations involve adding student members to the President’s Oversight Committee on diversity and inclusion and appointing Diversity Council as a student subcommittee to this group.

The third recommendation is to find a common definition of diversity on campus, according to Shewit.

The fourth recommendation is to re-invigorate the vision of diversity at Notre Dame as described in the University Statement, Ruelas said, while the fifth recommendation deals with the development of a plan to demonstrate diversity as a Notre Dame value.

Afterwards, Senate approved a new vice president of judicial council for elections, sophomore Matthew Ross, and vice president judicial council for peer advocacy, sophomore Phil Pickering.

News Editor Katie Galioto contributed to this report.

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