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Baron delivers first State of the Student Union

Maddie Hanna | Thursday, April 21, 2005

Emphasizing “we’re not government; we’re Union,” student body president Dave Baron delivered his first State of the Student Union address Wednesday night, assuming the podium at the beginning of the Senate meeting.

Baron’s entry was what one might expect of a big-time politician – except for the laughter that ensued after director of communications Steve Miller gave an exuberant, almost flamboyant introduction of the new president.

Despite being unable to suppress a few laughs himself, Baron quickly regained composure, apologizing for “all the pomp, circumstance and political theory that I’m about to give – but hey, that’s what you get when you elect a [political science] and [economics] major as student body president.”

He stressed the power of the Student Union while analyzing the common phrase “student government has no power.”

“I’m here tonight to both agree and entirely refute that statement,” Baron said.

He explained he agrees with the statement since student “government” is not a sovereign entity and cannot make laws, but he disagrees because the Student Union has great power.

“Our ability to get anything meaningful done is nothing more than our ability to unite the student body, to get us all going in the same direction, to mobilize 8,000 people,” Baron said. “We’re not government. We’re Union.”

Baron said the Student Union’s power lies in “our perseverance,” “our proactiveness” and “our convictions.”

“Change takes time,” Baron said. “It’s through continual pressure, year after year, Student Senate through Student Senate, that change does happen.”

He said this perseverance was apparent in the progress being made towards publishing Teacher Course Evaluations.

Baron then discussed the importance of “proactiveness.”

“Big questions are made every day at the University, and we need to make sure we get our voice heard. We must be proactive in advancing our interests.”

Demonstrating proactive behavior, Baron said he planned to write a “comprehensive report” regarding a possible new and expanded student center, an idea that surfaced in Notre Dame’s most recent ten-year plan and in the Future of Residence Life and Housing Report.

Baron also said he would stand by his convictions as student body president.

“The Student Union has power in ‘our convictions’ and the strengths of our arguments,” Baron said. “Change will come if we can show that what we believe is right.”

As a personal example, Baron said he fully supports “official recognition of a student group, like United in Diversity, designed to be a network of support for homosexual students as well as a bridge of the homosexual and heterosexual students at Notre Dame.

“Church doctrine is clear in its distinction between the homosexual act and the orientation, and we run a great danger in reducing one to the other,” Baron said. “We need a student group that focuses not on changing doctrine, but support and dialogue.”