Student body president Catherine Soler and vice president Andrew Bell, who took office on April 1, set the tone for the upcoming year’s administration and welcomed the new senators to student government as they led their first meeting of the Student Senate Wednesday.
Soler, Bell and the senators swore to “preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the student body” as they officially assumed their positions.
The initial meeting of the new Senate established committee chairs and introduced new members to their responsibilities.
An executive order from Soler created a new committee to deal with off-campus concerns.
The new committee will compile many of the off-campus projects, such as Transpo, that were handled by various committees during the last administration, Off-Campus Concerns Committee chair Emily LeStrange said.
The agenda for the new committee includes continuing to improve the Transpo service for students, educating off-campus students about improving their relationships with their neighbors in the local community and arranging student discounts at off-campus restaurants.
One of the committee’s goals is to “expand beyond just the bubble of Notre Dame,” LeStrange said.
The senators approved all nominations for committee chair positions. The nominees outlined the mission of their committees and their plans for the upcoming year.
The Community Relations committee, chaired by Claire Sokas, plays an important role in the upcoming Communiversity Day, and Sokas said she hopes to work on similar projects to engage students with the South Bend community.
Gender Issues Committee chairs Mariah McGrogan and Tim Castellini plan to address issues of gender, sexual orientation and the development of gender resources.
“The most important thing about this committee is trying to make [these issues] more accessible to the student body,” Castellini said.
Social Concerns Committee chair Patrick McCormick said his committee would be working on the hunger initiative that was included in Soler and Bell’s election platform.
Other approved committee chairs include Mick Mulhall for Academic Affairs, Casey Cockerham for Campus Technology, Matt High for Residence Life, Chase Riddle for University Affairs, Brigitte Githinji for Multicultural Affairs and Paige Becker for Oversight.
The student senators unanimously passed resolutions bestowing emeritus status on former student body president Grant Schmidt, former vice president Cynthia Weber and former chief of staff Ryan Brellenthin. Veteran members of student government voiced their support for last year’s administration.
“The whole student body was able to feel like they got something from the administration under Grant,” Becker said.
Bridget Bredemann commended Weber on “an above-and-beyond job,” and McCormick described Brellenthin as “a model of the servant leader.”
The new senators will soon be settled into the various committees and liaison positions to other groups around campus.
“As senators, you are the number one source for student government and organizations on campus to keep everyone informed,” Soler said.