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Shappell discusses semester goals

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, January 18, 2007

Student government has accomplished many of its objectives since the Shappell-Andrichik administration took office last April, student body president Lizzi Shappell said Wednesday, but it still has more goals to achieve before turnover occurs in the spring.

Shappell focused on community and student-alumni relations in her second State of the Student Union address, which she delivered before Wednesday night’s Student Senate meeting. She told senators she was confident in the progress they would make together in the coming months.

“We have a lot of work to do to fulfill these goals, but the progress thus far proves that we can and will follow through,” she said.

Student government representatives met with the South Bend Common Council last spring to discuss a controversial amendment to the disorderly house ordinance. Passed in summer of 2005, the amendment allows the city to send residents a notice to abate after just one reported noise violation – a measure that can result in quick evictions.

Shappell, student body vice president Bill Andrichik, Senate Community Relations committee chair Josh Pasquesi, Judicial Council chair Liz Kozlow and Northeast Neighborhood Council student representative Krystal Hardy met again with the council this fall to discuss their opposition to first offense evictions.

“From this meeting we agreed upon the spirit of the ordinance and gained allies in opposing first offense student evictions,” Shappell said.

A later meeting with the manager of Turtle Creek Apartments demonstrated the interpretation of the ordinance has changed, Shappell said. She called this “major progress” in light of the several evictions that occurred in fall of 2005.

“We are now confident that students will not be evicted from their homes after the first violation of the disorderly house ordinance,” Shappell said.

A central goal of the student government over the past two years has been to improve relations between Notre Dame students and the local community, she said.

“We have challenged each other to truly engage in the South Bend and Mishawaka communities, to move beyond the stereotypes of ‘townies’ and to live as good neighbors,” Shappell said. “The concept of community relations is now common language on our campus and it has resulted in incremental improvements.”

One method the student government employed to improve the relationship was a tour of South Bend available for freshmen during their first weekend at Notre Dame, co-sponsored by the South Bend mayor’s office. Shappell said the tours – which attracted approximately 100 freshmen – were “widely regarded as successful.”

“The purpose of this initiative is to assure that students have a positive impression of the community from their first weekend forward,” Shappell said.

But her administration’s job of improving community relations is not over.

“We have a lot of work left to do,” Shappell said.

Shappell is planning a community summit this February with the theme of integrating students into South Bend. Notre Dame will invite local area leaders and representatives from Saint Mary’s, Holy Cross, Indiana University South Bend and Bethel College to discuss ways to enhance interaction between students and community members through community service, internships and other initiatives. Shappell called the summit a “novel event.”

“The community summit will provide an opportunity to both formally talk about these issues and informally get to know our community leaders and fellow area college students,” Shappell said.

With regard to alumni-student relations, Shappell wants to continue to bridge what she called the “perceived disconnect” between students and alumni by making the Go Irish networking group more accessible to students.

“Seniors and graduate students are now able to access the network of over a hundred thousand alumni in every region and professional field,” Shappell said.

The network currently provides contact information and search engines for users, but Shappell said she will work to increase the usability of the site with resume posting, opportunities for alumni to volunteer as mentors for undergraduate students and general information sharing capabilities.

Andrichik is the undergraduate representative who will work on this project with the Alumni Association, Shappell said. He will sit on the career networking committee to incorporate student needs into the Web site and the social networking committee to continue the administration’s work of providing student-alumni receptions on football weekend Fridays.