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Student-rector relations discussed

Sarah Mervosh | Thursday, November 12, 2009

At its weekly meeting Wednesday night, Student Senate discussed how to foster the relationships between students and their dormitory rectors and rectresses.

“Rectors are incredibly important people in the lives of our student body,” student body vice president Cynthia Weber said. “They are in a lot of ways extension of the administration and they are huge parts of the community.”

Student body president Grant Schmidt said most students who come to Notre Dame had an adult mentor in high school, whether it was a parent, teacher or coach.

“At Notre Dame, that person is ideally the rector,” he said. “The rector takes on this motherly or fatherly figure, which is extremely important.”

Pasquerilla East senator Taylor Gagan suggested that rectors meet with each student in his or her dorm at the beginning of the year to set the tone for better relationships.

“We’re one of the dorms that has a new rectress this year. She did something really cool with the freshman. She brought them in one by one and talked to them,” Gagan said. “I don’t think that’s just important freshman year. I think that’s important all four years.”

“We always have this view that the rector is the bad guy,” she continued. “[If you get to know the rector,] then you won’t necessarily have that view and they won’t feel that negative energy towards them.”

Brad McDonald, an O’Neill Hall resident, said it would be unreasonable to expect the rectors to seek out every student in the dorm.

“It’s a two-way street,” he said. “If you want that good relationship, I think we have to focus on the students.”

Gagan said a rector might need to seek out students if some are shy and unwilling to take the initiative to get to know the rector.

“It’s important to see that it’s a two-way street, but there are people that aren’t outgoing like we are,” she said.

Lewis Hall senator Cristi Yanker suggested that rectors create a time set aside to meet with students so that those who wished to get to know their rector could have a less formal opportunity to do so.

“It would be great if the rectors had something like office hours, as sort of an open time to come in because they are interesting people,” she said.

Maria Lynch of Breen-Phillips Hall said some rectors might not be fit for the role of an adult mentor and students may have to look elsewhere.

“I don’t think that a lot of rectors are cut out for that job,” she said.

“I think that maybe it would be better to focus on encouraging a program that helps us find advisors on campus that aren’t necessarily our rectors,” Lynch said. “I think there is a lack of students who have really good connection with one faculty member.”

Duncan Hall senator C.J. Kelly agreed.

“Some of their personalities aren’t even conducive to a fatherly or motherly figure. Even if we wanted them to be that, they might not be able to do it,” he said.

Gagan said rectors could also get more involved in dorm events in order to foster relationships with students in a more relaxed atmosphere.

“Just simple things like ice cream after dorm mass,” she said.