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Istvan, Bell set policy agenda

Amanda Michaels | Thursday, August 26, 2004

Adam Istvan and Karla Bell are fighting student apathy the best way they know how – by showing that student government can get visible results.

From the campaign promises and platforms of last spring, the student body president and vice president have crafted an agenda they feel will be true to the Notre Dame community that helped them win one of the closest elections in the University’s recent history.

“Within four months of coming into office, we set up the DVD rental in LaFortune that was one of our main campaigning points,” said Istvan, who spent the summer on campus preparing for the upcoming year. “Hopefully students will see this, realize that student government can make a difference, and want to get involved.”

Now that the long push for the DVD rental is completed, changing all the dining hall and HuddleMart coffee to Fair Trade is next on the list. Istvan said Food Services has been very receptive, and that he expects to see results within the next few weeks.

Istvan’s number one personal priority, however, is to get the ND Safe Bus project in place.

An idea introduced during the spring Board of Trustees meeting, the ND Safe Bus would run to and from popular off-campus spots and residential complexes – a measure that Istvan said is a invaluable when most students are currently forced to walk home through unsafe areas or pay for a cab.

“Walking home after a night out is just not safe,” he said, recalling the tragic disappearance of a freshman in December 2002. “We have to act now to avoid another tragedy like Chad Sharon’s death.”

The proposal was well received by the Trustees, said Istvan, and if liability issues are cleared up, he expects to see the Bus running by the end of the year. He said funding options are being explored.

At the Board of Trustees meeting, former president Jeremy Lao also proposed integrating a $1 million student programming endowment into the University’s 10-year strategic plan. In May, Lao said that he would work with Istvan and Bell to secure the endowment, but Istvan said that Lao has yet to get him a report on the matter.

In its most ambitious endeavor, student government will also go after what Istvan calls the “Holy Grail” of campus policy – convincing the office of student affairs to allow student events back in the dorms.

“I’d love to say that we could have SYRs back the way they used to be, but I think it’s more realistic to say that we could work with rectors and student affairs to find a suitable replacement for them,” he said. “They boosted dorm pride, and we want to restore that.”

Istvan admitted that while the Office of the President has a laundry list of policies to push through, the new Student Union Constitution stripped him of much of his power to do so.

“Senate is now the best way to get things done, and it’ll be up to them to define our new roles,” Istvan said. “They’ve been wonderful to work with so far, and I really foresee a great year coming up, where the government’s going to be much more in the hands of the students.”