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Soler, Bell prepare for end of term

John Cameron | Tuesday, February 22, 2011

As student body president Catherine Soler and vice president Andrew Bell’s administration nears the end of its term, Soler said she plans to continue pursuing their objectives and initiatives.

Soler and Bell are set to leave office on April 1 and will concentrate on finalizing an agreement with local law enforcement, building on the Campus Life Council’s (CLC) recent work with sexual assault prevention and continuing efforts with campus renovations.

Soler said a formal agreement with law enforcement — the product of a year of community relations work through the beND campaign — is expected shortly.

“We definitely want to continue our push for the agreement with the local law enforcement, the University and student government to have regular conversations,” she said. “We have meetings coming up with the Indiana State Excise Police to get them on board, but basically making that a legitimate agreement is definitely something we want to finish.”

Soler said while the work with law enforcement has been slower than the administration had originally hoped, she is pleased with how relations have progressed this year.

“One of the things we were surprised with is the amount of time it takes to create something like our agreement with the police. To us, it seemed like it should be automatic, with everyone being so on board,” she said. “But we’ve seen the process of getting things completed, not for lack of interest, but just the difficulty of navigating through administration and community affairs that students don’t normally get involved in.”

Bell said he thought the beND campaign had made an impact on the larger problem of yearly fluctuations in student arrests.

“We think this is a really important step toward ending a problem that comes up [every few years],” he said. “In the time we’ve been here, there hasn’t been a spike in arrests until this year, but as we’ve done our research and gotten a more historical perspective, we see this is a recurring problem.”

Soler said she hopes, despite the short period left in her term, to make significant headway with CLC’s sexual assault prevention work.

“Our focus on sexual assault [with] CLC is sort of a new project, but definitely something we want to make a lot of progress on in the time we have left, considering CLC goes until the end of the year,” she said.

Also in collaboration with CLC, Soler said she anticipates changes in how the administration serves off-campus students.

“On CLC, we’re pushing for more administrative attention to off-campus students, and that will be coming through a resolution,” she said.

Bell said he also hopes to continue working toward ongoing campus improvements, such as the addition of lights to McGlinn Fields and further renovations to the DeBartolo Lounge.

“Those things obviously won’t be done before April 1, but we really just want to lay the groundwork so that even when we’re out of office those things will happen,” he said.

Soler said she thinks the administration’s efforts have accelerated both projects.

“I think that we were ambitious in our DeBartolo Lounge goals as far as the timeline,” she said. “But we’re pleased where things are in terms of getting that pushed up in the order of renovations at the University, and I’d say the same thing about the lights in McGlinn Fields.”

After turnover, Soler said she hopes the next administration will build off the progress made throughout the year, especially with regards to community outreach and dialogue with law enforcement.

“The beND campaign did a lot to further those initiatives, and I just hope there’s a lot of emphasis and focus from the next administration in continuing and improving those relationships even more,” she said. “We hope that since it’s been such a help this year and we’ve received such a positive response, that it will be a priority.”

Soler said it was important for student government to stay true to the basic services students expect from it.

“We hope that a lot of the programs we started that really served student needs, but may not be as elaborate or grand as some other things, do continue,” she said. “I hope that our work with Transpo, the discount program, giving input on Rent-a-Text, and other things like Whine Week will continue, because they’re important and it’s what students expect of their student government.”

Soler said she sees the last month of her term as an opportunity to complete or advance some of her administration’s objectives while also assisting the next administration’s transition.

“We want to finish our term strong, to continue to work until the last day, doing the best we can to prepare the next administration to continue the work we’ve done while being able to complete the newer goals we’ve set for ourselves,” she said.

Junior Pat McCormick and sophomore Brett Rocheleau assume the roles of student body president and vice president, respectively, April 1.