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Schmidt presents agenda

Liz O'Donnell | Thursday, April 23, 2009

Student body president Grant Schmidt discussed his agenda for the 2009-2010 term during his first State of the Student Union to the Student Senate Wednesday evening.

Before laying out his agenda, Schmidt took time to address the controversy that has been fueled by President Obama’s invitation to speak at Commencement.

He urged senators to listen to the discussion so they can assess the situation.

“This issue is going to go way beyond May 17th,” Schmidt said. “Therefore, as your student body president, I encourage you to recognize that to many, the present controversy deeply conflicts with what they’ve been taught and what they believe and what they know, but I also encourage you to recognize that for others many see the issue in a different light and are encouraged by the decision.”

Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Bob Reish, Schmidt said he will continue to work to improve relations with the South Bend community.

“I promise that we will do our part to continue in educating the student body of our rights but also of how to best establish a relationship with the city and how to ultimately understand the culture in which we live in,” he said.

In addition to ensuring the safety and promoting the well-being of Notre Dame students off campus, Schmidt also addressed the University’s obligation to the city, saying they must work to fulfill Notre Dame’s role in the community.

Schmidt addressed several other initiatives that student government will work toward during the term.

On campus, he said the Gender Issues Committee will continue to reevaluate the University’s sexual assault policy.

“The efforts up to his point have been tremendous and we will continue to insure the safety of students on and off campus,” Schmidt said of the committee.

Another area of concern Schmidt spoke about was enhancing campus diversity.

“Comfort is a good thing, but we also need to challenge ourselves to learn more than we already have,” he said. “We will work hard to facilitate opportunities for these questions to be asked and answered.”

After touching on other aspects of his campaign platform, such as the Online Syllabus Database, the ISBN Database and the Global Water Initiative, Schmidt turned to words of encouragement.

“Tons of good ideas. It’s so easy to sit here and talk about them,” he said. “Do something about it.”

Turning again to the Obama controversy, Schmidt told members of Senate to use the heated debate to get the student body excited about other issues.

“Prove that this isn’t an apathetic campus,” he said. “We are the University of Notre Dame and you better believe that we care about the issues of the past, the issues of the present, and the issues that will affect us in the future.”

In closing, Schmidt encouraged the Senate members to take advantage of their leadership opportunity.

“Know that you have the opportunity each day until April 1st and beyond to make a tangible impact on this campus,” he said. “Make this place your home.”