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Brown, Braun feel confident in new roles

Emma Driscoll | Monday, April 2, 2007

Sunday was the first day of their term, but student body president Liz Brown and vice president Maris Braun are already working hard and feeling confident.

“It’s pretty surreal even just to be sitting in the office right now,” Brown said. “But we’re definitely excited.”

Braun agreed.

“It’s exciting and overwhelming at the same time,” she said.

Although they just took over, Brown and Braun are already working to implement some of the goals on their platform.

“I think one of the biggest things that we’ve already started tackling is the Guest Meal Exchange program,” Brown said. “We met with [Director of Food Services] Dave Prentkowski. We are working with him to survey the student body.”

Brown said the surveys for the program – which would allow students to use some of their meals for guests visiting campus – will help determine what meals can be converted for guests and how many students plan to use the program.

Since Brown and Braun want the program to be in place by next year, Brown said it is a “top priority” right now.

Braun said the two have planned meetings about making Domer Dollars usable in Notre Dame Stadium.

“[We are] working on things that will benefit students in the fall,” she said.

An administration with experience

Brown and Braun came into office with experience in former student body president Lizzi Shappell and vice president Bill Andrichik’s administration.

Brown was their chief executive assistant, while Braun was the Breen-Phillips senator. Brown said she admired the work Shappell and Andrichik accomplished during their term.

“Since I was part [of their administration], I have a lot of respect for both Lizzi and Bill,” she said. “I think it’s absolutely remarkable that they accomplished 32 out of the 35 things on their platform.”

Braun offered the example of the Student Union endowment initiated by Shappell and Andrichik last week and predicted that in 10 years or so – when students are able to see famous bands on campus – students will think that whoever set up the endowment had foresight.

“We can really thank Lizzi and Bill for that,” she said.

After witnessing the behind-the-scenes work of student government, Brown said she is confident that she and Braun can handle what lies ahead.

“I don’t really have a huge fear,” she said. “I think I’m pretty confident … I think we have the experience and the vision to get things done.”

Their experience will be a valuable asset, they said.

“I think the biggest benefit of having experience is that you’ve already established relationships with administrators on campus,” Brown said.

Braun thinks that their experience will make them more efficient.

“[With] experience alone, you’re more practiced,” she said. “… You waste less time trying to figure out how to do things because you’ve been there before.”

And the fact that they have all of their committee chairs and positions filled for the next year, Brown said, has contributed to their confidence as they start their term.

“We have great chairs,” Brown said. “I think we have the right people behind us.”

‘We have to step up on our game’

Since Brown and Braun were elected by a Senate vote due to the failure of any ticket to receive a 50 percent plus one majority in the run-off student election, concerns have arisen that students lack interest in student government. But Braun said she thought the items on their agenda that directly impact students will counter claims about a lack of interest.

“In the fall, when some of our big student life initiatives get passed, I think students will see the benefit [of student government] more,” she said.

Braun said she is “not worried about not receiving 50 percent plus one [of the vote]” and cited the fact that applications for Student Senate committees doubled this year as evidence that interest in student government is not declining.

For Brown, on the other hand, her ticket’s failure to obtain the majority pushes her to work harder.

“Since it was such a close election, that’s motivating to me,” she said. “We have to step up on our game and prove that the right decision was made in the end.”

‘Confronting each issue with no holds’

While Braun expects challenges, she said she has “no fears” about her and Brown’s ability to serve in office.

“There will be tough times. That’s life,” she said.

But even with any unforeseeable obstacles, Brown and Braun said they have certain objectives they believe they can accomplish over the next year.

“I hope that we can really spark some change that will directly affect the students in a way that they know that student government does things,” Brown said. She believes that students sometimes do not realize student government is behind certain changes, like last year’s updates to Grab and Go.

“It would be great for students to be able to have a little faith that things can be done,” she said.

Braun hopes that their administration will undertake issues that may seem complex or take time to resolve.

“I would rather approach an issue that hasn’t been approached before,” she said. ” … I hope that we’re remembered as confronting each issue with no holds. You know, 100 percent.”