The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Shappell, Andrichik end term

Kaitlynn Riely | Friday, March 30, 2007

Student body president Lizzi Shappell and vice president Bill Andrichik are willing to contest anyone who claims student government doesn’t do anything.

But their accomplishments, they said, speak for themselves.

“Over the past four years I’ve heard – I can’t even count how many times – that student government doesn’t do anything,” Andrichik said. “After this year, I would challenge someone to look at what we’ve done and still be able to say that.”

Sitting in Shappell’s office beside a box of Observer clippings on their activities, the two described how they have pushed for tangible results this year for the student body – results that they said disprove the stereotype of a do-nothing government.

Shappell and Andrichik told The Observer in August they felt they came into the school year with a momentum that helped them start achieving goals immediately, including initiatives like adding more choices to Grab and Go and starting the College Readership Program to give students access to three major newspapers.

And Shappell said that momentum – jumpstarted by their combined experience in student government – continued throughout the school year. Of the 35 items on their platform, their administration achieved 32, Shappell said.

“We’ve joked about it being a checklist,” she said. “For us, that’s really what it was.”

Their most important accomplishment, they said, was the Student Union endowment they helped to create, which Shappell announced to the Senate Wednesday. The endowment – a fund composed of money from The Shirt project royalty fund and from student government’s carry-forward account – will provide funding for future student bodies, Shappell said. She estimated more than $600,000 would be returned to the overall Student Union budget every year through the endowment fund.

“We think this is the most fiscally responsible thing to do with the money,” Shappell said.

Previous administrations have discussed creating this fund, and Shappell said she is proud her administration was able to carry it through.

Current students may not benefit from the effects of this endowment, Andrichik said, but in 10 years students will see the benefit when the campus can host larger concerts and clubs can receive extra funding.

“I think that might not look like our largest accomplishment now, but that’s one of the things that I can almost assure will still be around and still have a great impact when this year’s freshmen are long gone from campus,” Andrichik said.

Their administration has made other changes that current students can notice, including an Eating Disorders Conference, a Community Summit and more chances for student interaction with alumni.

A ‘determined’ administration

Reflecting on the past year, Shappell said she would use the word “determined” to describe her administration.

“I think members of this administration were dedicated to serving the student body in every way and the first of that is achieving everything we wanted to achieve,” she said. “The corresponding part of that is by continuing to listen to students and trying to serve their interests and represent them.”

Andrichik said he felt a “sense of accomplishment” from the initiatives they started, including his work with the Career Center, the Development Office and the Alumni Association to give seniors access to a wider alumni contact network.

The first-ever Community Summit, held in early March, was another source of pride for the outgoing president and vice president.

“It was the first time that all the area schools and all the area officials and agencies just sat down and talked,” Andrichik said. “That’s huge for opening up future conversation.”

South Bend’s amended disorderly house ordinance sparked debate in fall 2005 and raised questions of evictions. Shappell said that fallout, which she tackled as vice president with last year’s president Dave Baron, put student government in a reactive position. The Community Summit and the first freshman tour of South Bend last August have let student government take a more proactive stance, she said.

That difference led a Trustee to joke that Shappell and Andrichik could consider their administration the “golden year” of student government, a remark made at the Board’s Student Affairs committee meeting in February.

Last year, the Baron-Shappell platform sometimes had to “take a backseat” to emerging problems like the controversial ordinance amendment and the academic freedom-Catholic character debate. This year, Shappell said, she and Andrichik were fortunate that they could devote most of their time to achieving their platform’s goals.

But Shappell and Andrichik don’t attribute their successes just to the lack of controversy. Everyone in the administration worked hard, Shappell said.

For Shappell and Andrichik, that workload will be greatly diminished once president-elect Liz Brown and vice president-elect Maris Braun take over on Sunday.

Forging strong relationships

Shappell said the experience of leading the Student Union has been both “challenging and rewarding.”

“It’s a very demanding position and it can be very challenging at times … but at the same time, I think you realize that’s what you’re signing up for and I wouldn’t trade it,” she said.

One part of the job both leaders said they have enjoyed is the relationships they have forged with administrators like University President Father John Jenkins and Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman.

“It’s really welcoming that it’s more of a collegial relationship rather than students and administrators and sort of an assumed tension,” Andrichik said. “I don’t think there is an assumed tension in a lot of our interactions.”

Shappell and Andrichik, former co-rec football teammates, said their relationship has grown during their tenure. Andrichik said his friendship with Shappell is the strongest bond he has made with someone during his four years in student government. Shappell had similar sentiments.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Bill and a lot of fun,” Shappell said. “We’ve worked very hard, but it’s been a great time.”

Shappell’s and Andrichik’s leadership duties won’t end completely on Sunday. They will help Brown and Braun with transition and continue to lead the Campus Life Council until the end of the academic year, as well as present their spring report to the Board of Trustees.

They won’t be in the student government offices in LaFortune nearly as much, however.

“The concept of free time, with no formal position, has been something alien to me in the last two or three years,” Shappell said. “It’s going to be nice to just relax and enjoy my few weeks before graduation.”

After graduation, Shappell is undecided about whether she will do service in Africa or take a job in Washington, D.C. Andrichik is confident his next step is law school and is still choosing where to go, with his top three choices being Michigan, Duke or Notre Dame.