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New administration acting early

Mary Kate Malone | Thursday, August 25, 2005

Student body president Dave Baron spent his summer within eyesight of the Golden Dome, slowly chipping away at a lofty list of goals to improve student life on and off campus.

The fruits of his work are already visible. Students returned to Notre Dame to find to-go cups for their beverages in the dining halls and Transpo trolleys circling campus on new routes to help serve students who want to travel off campus.

But Baron and student body vice president Lizzie Shappell say these changes are only the beginning.

The South Bend City Council’s unexpected passage of an ordinance meant to curb student partying has caused Baron and his staff to give greater importance to Notre Dame/South Bend relations – a pillar of his platform from the beginning.

“It is still a major priority for our administration,” Baron said. “But we didn’t know the issue was going to be put on the table this summer. I was involved in that and tried to communicate our position that it was being passed without adequate input from the students.”

Baron said he has been in contact with Ann Pazello, council member of the fourth district of the city of South Bend, and Ann Carol Nash, assistant city attorney.

“We’ll coordinate legal defense if it’s necessary but hopefully it’s not,” Baron said. “We plan to make sure students are treated fairly and that they receive a warning before any actions are taken against them.”

The issue of community relations is the probable topic for student government’s fall Board of Trustees report, Baron said. The twice-yearly presentation is given by student government officials and reports on student life as it currently exists to the University’s chief governing body.

More of Baron’s administration’s handiwork will be seen sooner than that in various facets of student life – from the newly purchased online textbook trading site NDBay to a men’s sexual assault awareness group.

Student government recently spent $5,000 to purchase NDBay, an online book-trading site previously owned and operated by recent Notre Dame graduates Chris Kelly and Aaron Wenger.

“We hope to make it accessible through AFS IDs and to integrate ticket share for football and basketball tickets online,” Baron said.

Like his predecessor, Adam Istvan, Baron also plans to devote a significant amount of student government’s energy to improving minority relations on campus.

“We have a newly created minority affairs committee in place which allows for minorities to have a louder voice on policy issues,” Baron said. “They will look at the diversity double count requirement and work on a proposal that is beneficial but not too onerous to students.”

Plans for reaching more concrete goals are also in the works. Cheaper copies at the new FedEx Kinko’s, further discussion on the College Readership Program, and speakers for the first Catholic Think Tank lecture series are all on Baron and Shappell’s to-do list.

The approaching inauguration of University President Father John Jenkins makes this year an especially exciting one, Baron said.

“I know Father Jenkins, in planning his inauguration, made students a priority, and that’s a sign of what this administration is going to be about and I’m extremely encouraged,” he said.

Shappell is equally optimistic for the upcoming year.

“We’re excited,” she said. “We have a full plate, but we have a great group of committees to get the job done.”