The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Student government leaders turn over roles

Marisa Iati | Monday, April 2, 2012

In April 2011, newly elected student body president Pat McCormick and vice president Brett Rocheleau began enacting an ambitious plan to transform student government. Sunday, McCormick handed the reins to Rocheleau, now student body president, and incoming vice president Katie Rose.

McCormick said his administration sought to unite student government, augment its constituent services capacity and “build a kind of student government capable of building a Notre Dame for the 21st century.”

Through reforming elections and fusing the Council of Representatives and Student Senate, McCormick said his team cut through the red tape that had accumulated in student government.

The Department of Constituent Services addressed issues of convenience through projects such as restoring the price of quarter dogs to 25 cents and hosting Puppy Days and Circus Lunch, McCormick said.

“Our hope for the Department of Constituent Services was that it would serve as the front door to the student government office,” McCormick said. “Through the leadership of [sophomore department director] Heather Eaton and her Constituent Services team, we’ve seen, I think, an enormous increase in the ability of student government to deliver on constituent service needs.”

McCormick said student government advocated for a University sustainability strategy, promoted the Playing for Peace initiative and proposed a peace summit and charity benefit concert, tentatively titled “3.17,” to administrators.  

“We have submitted the proposal [for 3.17] to the University, and the University now is pursuing its own due diligence, as it would for any project of this scope,” he said. “It’s been positively received, and we’re grateful to the administration for considering it.”

McCormick said his and Rocheleau’s 2011 campaign centered on students’ hopes that Notre Dame could serve as a crossroads where ideas could intersect and a lighthouse that could serve as the conscience of higher education.

“From the beginning of when this journey began to where we sit today, I think that my greatest hope for student government was that we might be able to … serve as a means for students to realize their own greatest hopes for Notre Dame,” McCormick said. “If there’s even one student who believes still in that greatest hope that we have for Notre Dame, then the work goes on and the hope lives on.”

The death of sophomore Sean Valero last spring was the most challenging experience of his term, McCormick said.

“Any time that there’s a student death, that is the most challenging part of serving in student government,” he said. “And I think at the same time, it’s consistently those times of tragedy where we most see the Notre Dame family coming together.”

The incoming student government team is uniquely suited to furthering the outgoing administration’s vision, McCormick said.

“I think that one of the greatest gifts of all has been getting to work alongside of such an extraordinarily gifted and talented team,” he said. “To the extent that we have made progress in realizing the vision that brought us all together in the first place, it’s because of their leadership, and I’m beyond excited to see not only where Notre Dame will take them next, but where they will take Notre Dame.”

During his time at the University, McCormick said he has learned Notre Dame is uniquely capable of educating students’ minds and hearts.

“There is no university more capable of being a transformative force for a world deeply in need than the University of Notre Dame,” he said. “That’s our project and that’s our family, and I think that my hope is that the next generation of students at Notre Dame will find it to be the journey of a lifetime.”

McCormick, who will graduate in May, said he will continue a few projects during the remainder of his time at Notre Dame and will participate in a research project in Ireland in the fall. He said he will then pursue a master’s degree in forced migration and refugee studies at Oxford University.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life so far to serve the student body of this extraordinary University,” McCormick said. “Notre Dame will without a doubt be with me for the rest of my life. It has been formative in ways that I could never have imagined, and I couldn’t be more grateful for not only the place itself, but the people who make it.”      



The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Student government leaders turn over roles

Nicole Toczauer | Monday, April 2, 2012

Student body president Brett Rocheleau and vice president Katie Rose, who took office Sunday, said Rocheleau’s experience as vice president last year, combined with their new platform, will help this year’s administration strengthen relationships on and off campus, improve safety and modernize Notre Dame.

Rocheleau said the connections he made as last year’s student body vice president will be important in achieving the goals outlined in the new administration’s platform.

“Pat [McCormick, student body president emeritus] and I began to build relationships with everyone, all the way from [University President] Fr. John Jenkins, the Provost’s Office, Faculty Senate, different student organizations, to the community as we took office,” he said. “Now we have those established, so we’ll just build Katie in.”

Rose said she looked forward to joining the network established during the last administration.

“I’m really excited … that the groundwork is laid for them,” she said. “The people we talk to can help us tremendously.”

Rose said the first goal of the administration is to improve constituent services.

“We want a two-way connection where we keep people updated on things they asked us to work on,” she said.

Rocheleau said he hopes to run a student government that is transparent to the student body.

“Every other week we will update them on the process,” he said. “Students need to feel comfortable working with us. The accountability side is important.”

The Rocheleau-Rose platform also aims to reach beyond campus and deepen Notre Dame’s roots in the South Bend community, he said.

“Five years ago tensions were at a high, but as each administration goes by, it gets better,” Rocheleau said. “Our administration will value keeping these up and working with the community.”

Rocheleau said the pair has already worked to improve campus safety by advocating for the installation of more lights on campus and popular places for students off-campus.

“Putting up simple lights can deter crime and assaults,” he said. “Also, off campus there was a lot of crime first semester this year. It will be a challenge to get lights installed since it’s not land owned by Notre Dame, but we’ll work with the mayor’s office.”

Rose said the team also hopes to modernize the University through improvements in sustainability and the introduction of new campus groups.

“We love Notre Dame and its traditions, but we also want to bring the campus up to a modern standard,” she said.

She said the two would continue striving for the past administrations’ goal to connect Notre Dame to the global community, as well.

“Like Pat and Brett’s administration, we want to make Notre Dame a forum for social concerns, and make it easier for student to access funding to go abroad,” Rose said.

Rocheleau said he and Rose hope to represent the student body in the fullest capacity.

“Our position is to represent the students, even if it goes against what other people say,” he said. “If it’s what the students believe, we want their voices to be heard. That will have made us successful, if we can embody what the students on this campus feel.”