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Leaders outline ‘big four’ iniatives for 2009-2010

Madeline Buckley | Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Student body vice president Grant Schmidt said four initiatives – which he called “the big four” – will be his prime focus as he assumes the position of student body president today.

Taxi reform, cheaper textbook options, an online syllabus database and changes in the class registration system are first on the to-do list, he said.

“We would like to have a way for students to prepay for cab rides,” Schmidt said. “That way, students wouldn’t have to worry about carrying cash all the time or be confused with rates.”

Cynthia Weber, who took the position of student body vice president today, said she and Schmidt have been in contact with several community leaders about making the taxi system more efficient and safe for students. She said they are hoping to create a system in which students pay for rides with coupons instead of cash.

The team will also tackle the issue of high textbook costs, which Schmidt said is a concern that has been brought up many times by students.

“Our goal is to contact professors directly over the summer to get ISBN numbers in an adequate amount of time for students to be able to purchase books,” he said.

Schmidt said the idea is to give students an alternative to buying textbooks from the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, which currently does not disclose ISBN numbers.

“It’s a pretty basic concept,” he said. “This way, if you want to use Dorm Books, eBay or Amazon, you at least have the option.”

Schmidt said changing the course registration process so that there is a “shopping cart” option is also in the works. He said he would like to create a tool so that students can put classes in the shopping cart prior to registration, so when the students register, they can just refer to the cart and choose their classes without going through the class search again.

Finally, Schmidt said the online syllabus database – an initiative that was first undertaken by the previous Bob Reish-Grant Schmidt administration – will remain a priority. This would allow students to view the current syllabus or an old syllabus for a class before registration, he said.

Although Schmidt said he would continue many of the initiatives of the previous administration, there will be a few changes as well.

In order to reach out to the student body, Schmidt said he reinstated the Department of Communications as the prime way to connect with students.

This Department is replacing the Student Outreach Committee, which previously had the task of communicating with students. The Department of Communications will regularly send out a press release, and Schmidt and Weber will possibly broadcast videos with updates about student government’s work.

“We want to advertise to the student body what we are doing,” Schmidt said. “We want to reach out to students and figure out what matters to them.”

Weber said many of the tasks of the Student Outreach Committee, such as administering the student survey and analyzing the results, will continue, just in the form of a communications department rather than a committee.

She said regular communication with the student body is an important goal for the coming term.

“In terms of the broader principles of student government, we want to get students more involved,” she said. “In general, we want to be faithful servants to the student body.”

Schmidt said people often question whether student government can really make a difference, but he said he guarantees a successful year.

“[Student government] is really a cool thing,” he said. “We want this term to be a process of making this year better.”

He said everything is in place for the new term so student government can “hit the ground running” in achieving the goals laid out for next year.

“There’s a general excitement for this year,” Schmidt said. “We will really figure out what students want and get it done right.”