Coccia, Joyce assume presidency
Ann Marie Jakubowski | Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Juniors Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce stepped into their roles as student body president and vice president, respectively, Monday. Coccia said the passion that propelled their platform through the February elections will be a defining part of their administration in the year ahead.
Coccia, from Columbus, Ohio, and Siegfried Hall, majors in Africana Studies and Peace Studies, and is a member of Notre Dame’s varsity fencing team. Joyce is an Arabic and Economics double major with a Peace Studies minor.
Running on a platform that prioritized student engagement and interaction, Coccia and Joyce said their first goal will be creating an effective communication strategy to better connect with the student body.
“We’re working on different ideas with Facebook and Twitter to reach students where they are,” Coccia said. “We shouldn’t expect students to go out of their way to take a look at our website, we should come to them.”
Coccia said “internally efficient” communication among executive cabinet members will also help the administration serve the student body.
“We’ve definitely got a great team this year in our cabinet, and they’re bringing a lot of new ideas and passion,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re comfortable using the resources and the connections that the others have with administrators and the background and knowledge that people bring to the table.”
While only one cabinet member, sophomore Max Brown, director of the Department of Academic Affairs, will remain from the outgoing group, Joyce said the administration is working to achieve “a sense of continuity.”
“We are very fortunate that the outgoing administration did a great job of transitioning us, putting together really thorough transition materials to outline their initiatives throughout the year and those that are still ongoing,” Joyce said. “Some of these things will continue, but we’ll leave it up to the new department directors to take it as they see fit, however it works with our mission and our platform.”
Coccia said on-campus immigration reform is a long-term goal for the administration, and they have started conversations already to move it forward.
“We’re already talking with administrators and various groups about [immigration reform] and working to get undocumented students allowed on campus,” Coccia said. “It’s a conversation that has been going on with a lot of Catholic schools, and Notre Dame is one of the few Catholic schools where this is not a reality yet.
“We’re working with people in the theology department, people at the Center for Social Concerns and other student groups to bring this conversation to the forefront and do what we can with it from our positions in student government.”
Joyce said the administration plans to begin a town hall initiative as early as next month to address potential changes to Food Services.
“We’d really like to know what kind of changes students would like to see with the meal plan or Grab ‘n Go, and this would be a good public forum for people to talk about it,” she said.
The pair has already begun to discuss the addition of a coffee cart in DeBartolo Hall, Coccia said, and it has proven to be “a feasible idea.”
“We have had some initial conversations [about the coffee cart], and now we want to follow through with some of those to gauge what the realistic first steps would be with that,” he said. “It’s definitely something on our horizon.”
Joyce said she and Coccia have added to their platform since the elections and have met with Saint Mary’s student body president and vice president to collaborate on plans for an event similar to “Support a Belle, Love a Bell” in the fall. Support a Belle, Love a Belle is a Saint Mary’s Student Government Association-sponsored event that raises awareness of anxiety, depression and suicide on campus.
“I think there are a couple of groups on campus that would be interested in collaborating on something like [Support a Belle, Love a Belle] on Notre Dame’s campus,” Joyce said.
Coccia said they will continue to co-sponsor StaND Against Hate Week with Notre Dame’s Core Council and “fully support” the Call to Action movement on campus.
“In the last few weeks, we’ve definitely become clear on what our role in Call to Action might be,” he said. “We support the celebration of diversity within our office and now we have a clear sense of the direction that’s headed. I’m excited to move forward on this with the other student groups.”
The two have already addressed the incoming class of 2017 at three prospective student events, and Coccia said they hope to do all in their power to help them “hit the ground running” in the fall.
“We want to reach out to the freshmen a bit earlier in the summer, just to invite them into student government and give them our names as a resource for anything that might come up during their freshman year,” he said. “It’s something simple, but we want to work on it.”
Joyce said the energy in the cabinet is the most exciting part of their term so far.
“I know it’s sometimes hard to sustain this kind of energy over a whole year, but we’ve got a really great group, and I’m very happy with the way it’s come together so far,” she said. “I think if we can harness that energy and make sure [the cabinet members] stay empowered and energized, we can do what needs to be done.”
Coccia said he and Joyce “couldn’t be more confident” in the cabinet selections they made, and he said he hopes their passion for service will facilitate more interaction between student government and the student body.
“I’m excited just to have a very busy office upstairs [in LaFortune], with people in and out all the time,” he said. “That’s something we definitely want to stress … because it’s your office as a student, there’s even an area for studying, and people should feel free to be there.”
Joyce echoed the invitation to students and said the easiest way to start will be reaching out to students on Facebook and Twitter.
“The biggest thing is that we are here for the students. there would be no need for that office upstairs if the student body didn’t have concerns that needed to be addressed,” she said. “Come up to the office with ideas or send them to us. We want students to know that there will be action as a result of their ideas.”