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Program to reach out to freshmen

Joseph McMahon | Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Concerned with the lack of freshman input in student government, student body president Bob Reish unveiled the new Freshman Leadership Experience (FLEX) program at the Council of Representatives (COR) meeting Tuesday.

Freshman Blair Carlin, who will help run the program next year and has conducted research at other schools looking at similar programs, explained the purpose of FLEX to the Council.

“The primary goal is to integrate freshmen into student government at Notre Dame,” Carlin said. “We want to pull in 25 to 30 members for a very diverse group. It should be a privilege to be a part of this.”

Carlin said FLEX will target freshmen who are interested in student government but lost their bid for Freshman Class Council. The idea is similar to a program at Virginia Tech.

“It would give [those not involved with Freshman Class Council] an opportunity to get involved in student government,” Carlin said.

FLEX will also allow freshmen to help in different aspects of student government, such as helping plan community service projects and learning about policy-making in the Student Senate.

“The goal is to educate freshman about student government,” Carlin said.

Several COR members were wary of the new ideas for FLEX, and several expressed concerns over possible overlap with the Freshman Class Council.

“You don’t want to step on the toes of the Class Council,” Student Union Board (SUB) co-director of external affairs Jeff Lakusta said.

Class of 2011 President Cynthia Weber echoed Lakusta’s sentiments, and said FLEX should include several Class Council members because it would allow them to diversify their experience in student government.

“It’s almost a good idea to have people on Freshman Class Council also on FLEX because it is good to have people with both policy and programming experience,” she said.

Some COR members supported the original idea of not allowing Class Council members on FLEX.

“I think a major part of this is pulling in people who weren’t successful in their run for Freshman Class Council,” SUB treasurer Kadeja Gaines said.

COR members were also divided over the prospect of making FLEX something exclusive to the dorms. While some members thought this would allow more people to get involved, others believed it would hurt students in larger dorms.

“I would hate to penalize a student for being in an enthusiastic dorm,” Class of 2008 President Bridget Keating said.

In other COR news:

u COR unanimously approved freshman Nicole O’Connor as the Student Union parliamentarian and junior Dennise Bayona as the SUB co-director of programming.

Bayona’s nomination was originally delayed due to a rule that says no person can hold two different positions in student government. Bayona decided to step down as vice president of Walsh Hall.

“It was a really tough call and I had trouble sleeping that night,” Bayona said. “But ultimately, I decided on which position would best help me strengthen my relationship with people.”