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Shappell presents progress

Kaitlynn Riely | Friday, February 2, 2007

The Student Affairs committee of the Board of Trustees gave the Shappell-Andrichik administration a positive appraisal Thursday when student body president Lizzi Shappell, vice president Bill Andrichik and chief executive assistant Liz Brown presented their State of the Student Union address to the committee members.

Andrichik said the past year has been a successful one.

“We started the year with about 35 or so platform initiatives and we have either fully completed or, if you include the things that are going to happen, like the Eating Disorders Conference and the Community Summit, then we are in the upper 20s to approaching 30 of those [initiatives],” Andrichik said.

Shappell said this year her administration was able to complete most of the objectives on their initial platform because they haven’t had to deal with any of the sudden issues that arose last year, like the academic freedom debate and the disorderly house ordinance.

“It’s been a far more relaxed year in that sense with not dealing with as controversial events,” Shappell said.

One Board member agreed, joking that Shappell might look back on her administration as the “golden years” of student government.

A board member said the issues the Shappell-Andrichik administration chose to tackle were “substantive” and ones they “could really impact.”

“It’s been a pleasure to work with all of you,” a Trustee said. “You’ve been thoughtful, tenacious, organized … and I think very effective.”

The Observer has a policy of not attributing information or quotes to specific members of the Board.

Thursday’s presentation in McKenna Hall was a more detailed version of the speech Shappell gave Jan. 17 to the Student Senate.

Shappell described the plan for next week’s Eating Disorder’s conference, which she said should take the issue in a “more academic direction.” In light of a recent law passed in Spain banning extremely thin models from participating in runway shows, the eating disorders discussion is a “timely topic,” Shappell said.

Shappell said she hopes by having an academic discussion, the University community can start to decide how to best address the existence of eating disorders on campus.

Shappell updated the Board on their community relations progress – an issue that has been a central concern for student government for the past two years.

Shappell described her administration’s approach to community relations – a year after the passing of the disorderly house ordinance – as “more proactive” than reactive. Shappell cited evidence of the proactive nature of her administration by describing the success of the South Bend bus tour for freshmen that took place in August and her hopes for building relationships with community leaders in the upcoming community summit.

One Board member said, in light of Notre Dame’s recent involvement with the Millennium Village Project in Uganda, that it’s important for Notre Dame to stay involved in its own community as well.

“Oftentimes schools are highly criticized for the fact that they are across the ocean but not even in their local area,” the Board member said.

And the South Bend bus tour and the community summit are good ways to get involved, the Board member said.

One trustee asked Shappell if she had an agenda for the community summit. Shappell said they will come to the meeting with certain discussion topics – like better integrating students into off-campus neighborhoods and promoting internship and service activities – but they won’t have an agenda.

“We are more so looking to network and establish relationships and get conversations started that we hope can continue outside this summit through the appropriate parties,” Shappell said.

Brown updated the Board on the status of the College Readership Program, an initiative that provides three papers – the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and USA Today – to four different locations across campus five times a week.

Brown said the program has been a success, with approximately 90 percent of the papers read each day. The program is under budget, Brown said, so they are considering adding another dispersal location in the Hesburgh Library and installing taller racks in the North Dining Hall location.

Andrichik briefed the Board on the work he has done to improve student-alumni relations. His goal has been to increase communication between the two groups, he said.

One major push he has made has been to grant students access to the GoIrish network so they can utilize alumni contacts in their job search. Discussions with the Career Center, the Alumni Association, the Development Office and other parties involved have resulted in a compromise, Andrichik said.

“Now, students during senior year only and graduate students have access to the full contact network of over 100,000 active e-mail addresses and lists,” he said. “Those students take a 20-30 minute long class before being granted access, which allows them to have their resume checked and to learn the proper way to contact someone professionally.”

Andrichik said he has also been working on ways for students and alumni to interact in a social atmosphere and is working with the Alumni Association to transition the GoIrish Network to a new software program that will allow for a better networking Web site.

This is the second of three meetings the Board of Trustees will hold with members of the student government this year. The topic of the first meeting in October was to brief Board members on the Facebook Web site.