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Students evaluate their leaders

Eileen Duffy | Friday, January 21, 2005

Notre Dame students, as they have shown through allegiance to College Democrats or Republicans, protests and passionate letters to the editor, care about politics. When it comes to their classmates governing this campus, however, students are overwhelmingly uninformed and apathetic.

“I don’t even know what student government does or doesn’t do,” said St. Edward’s Hall

junior Avery Mortimer – along with the vast majority of students called.

Students were randomly chosen from the phone book to gain an accurate perspective of student view of campus government. Many declined to be interviewed due to a lack of knowledge about Student Union Board, the Office of the Student Body President (run by Adam Istvan and Karla Bell) and Student Senate.

Even when presented with a list of student government’s accomplishments – including Student Union Board’s weekly movies, the new DVD rental in the Huddle, and the SafeBus debate – many students remained apathetic.

“I have no opinion,” Mortimer said, as did many others. “I don’t feel affected at all by student government.”

Of the students who responded, most agreed the DVD rental was a good idea theoretically, but some kinks remain to be worked out.

“The new DVD rental is cool,” junior David Ebner of Morrissey Hall said. “Unfortunately, [in order to rent a DVD] you have to register ahead of time, which I didn’t know about-luckily my friend had already registered.”

Sophomore Katie Podkowa of Breen-Phillips Hall seemed disappointed with the DVD rentals.

“Every time I have looked at the movies, they are out of the one I want,” she said. “Also, the one-day rental is kind of short. My friend was charged a bunch of late fees.”

Student government has announced the one-night rental policy will be extended to two nights for the second semester.

Students were more pleased with SUB’s weekly movie showings than the new rental policy.

“I thought SUB put on a lot of cool events [this term], like the movies on the quad and the movies in DeBartolo,” Howard sophomore Julie Hynes said. “‘Old School’ was especially fun to watch on the quad.”

“I like the new SUB movie time [a Saturday matinee at 4:30 p.m.],” Breen-Phillips sophomore Joanna Mangeney said. “I think a lot more people will go to that.”

Ebner commented that every SUB movie he had attended had been less than satisfying.

“Any SUB movie I’ve ever been to, the sound cuts out halfway through,” he said. “It’s pretty unprofessional.”

Ebner did have some kind words for Istvan and Bell.

“SafeBus was a really nice idea,” he said. “The fact that [the idea wasn’t approved by the Board of Trustees] doesn’t bother me too much.”

Senior Katie Seeberg said she wished she could have seen fewer “lofty and unrealistic promises.”

“[Istvan and Bell’s opponents] Craft and Lynch started small … with the everyday things,” she said. “I just don’t see that from Istvan and Bell.”

Sophomore Nickie McCabe of Lyons Hall offered a possible explanation for students’ apathy.

“Sometimes it seems like [student government is] not doing a lot,” she said. “But this is probably more of a problem of them not being able to accurately convey all that they’re doing rather than them not actually accomplishing anything.”

“It’s not likely that student government is going to be able to create monumental changes every year,” McCabe said, “but I think that student government definitely has a lot of potential to make a significant difference on campus.”

“Overall,” Ebner said, “I think they’re doing a decent job.”