Student government hosts fair for freshmen
Natalie Weber | Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership (FUEL) branch of student government hosted the Freshman Networking Fair on Monday in the Lafortune Ballroom to help first year students connect with various organizations across campus.
Sophomore Dan Hopkinson, co-director of FUEL, said the fair was started three years ago when FUEL was under the leadership of Louis Bertolotti and it has continued to gather positive feedback throughout the years.
“ … Especially if you’re a freshman, it’s hard to [join organizations] if you’re not already involved in student government,” he said. “It can be overwhelming, so I think just having an event dedicated to specifically Student Union organizations is helpful in raising awareness for those organizations and what they can do.”
Senior Caitlin Hodges, department director for community relations, said freshmen can reach out to her to learn more about jobs and service in the South Bend community. The experience in community relations her department offers can also be a valuable experience for those looking to get involved in local government, she said.
“If they’re looking for good exposure even to municipal government, if it’s someone who’s thinking about getting involved in that after graduation in South Bend or another city — this is a really good department for that,” Hodges said.
Freshman Alison O’Neil, who is involved with community relations, said she has enjoyed her experience, which allows her to venture into the South Bend community.
“This is my first experience with student government,” O’Neil said. “ … It’s a nice chance to get out of the Notre Dame bubble, get involved in the community and really make a difference.”
Liz Feeley, co-chair of Hall President’s Council (HPC), said freshmen can also begin becoming involved with the hall council organizations within their own dorms.
“When they come in their freshmen year [and want to become involved with HPC], it’s probably most helpful if they get involved in hall council first, because HPC is made up of current hall presidents,” Feeley said. “It’s kind of hard to run, unless you have one year under your belt … We would definitely recommend hall council, and even running for a commissioner’s position.”
Christina Fernandez, co-chair of the HPC, said freshmen can shadow their upperclassmen hall presidents to learn more about the responsibilities of the position
“Some halls have junior commissioner positions, so [freshmen] can learn how to be a commissioner under a sophomore and learn the ropes of programming and what we do at events,” Fernandez said. “But aside from that, freshmen can actually run for president at the end of their freshmen year to be hall president during their sophomore year, so we have a few of the halls who have sophomore presidents.”
Freshman Abby Campbell, a member of FUEL, said she learned more about student government through the fair.
“I discovered that the school offers a free New York Times subscription, which I sort of knew but I had no idea how to take advantage of it,” Campbell said. “Also, I didn’t know that student government was the group that worked on the debate this year and also [kept] track of who voted for who in the [mock] election, which is pretty cool.”
Freshman Brittani West said she was particularly interested in the opportunities which Diversity Council offered.
“I checked out Diversity Council, so that was pretty interesting,” West said. “I know that the majority of students here are white, so not being white, I wanted to check that out, for sure. I’m really glad they’re offering opportunities for me to be a part of that council.”
Freshman Taylor Schmidt said he learned about future events that are aimed at fostering community between residence halls.
“There’s going to be a campus-wide event that entails competitions with each dorm … you can go to different dorms for activities; [for example,] you can do dunk tanks at Duncan Hall or make a cupcake at Badin,” Schmidt said.
Hodges said he hoped the fair would help spread overall awareness of the opportunities offered by student government.
“Student Union is the largest organization that is on campus and it can do so much,” Hodges said. “It can be overwhelming so I think just having an event dedicated to specifically Student Union organizations is helpful in raising awareness for those organizations and what they can do.”