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Vidal, Devine take office, offer a vision for upcoming year

| Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Four years ago, Lauren Vidal and Matthew Devine never would have guessed they would be students at Notre Dame, but now the incoming student body president and vice president, both juniors, recognize that many once-insignificant decisions led them to where they are now, Devine said.

“We were just reflecting on how important choices are,” he said. “You make one decision, and we never would be sitting here today.”

Vidal said she had not considered applying to the University until the day before the application deadline. She said other schools recruited her for athletics but she ultimately based her decision on Notre Dame’s strong community.

“I applied the last day [the application] was due,” she said. “I was going a different route. I was being recruited to play sports.

“I was about to go to go elsewhere. I was basically going … I got here for Spring [Visitation, a weekend recruitment program for prospective minority students], and it just changed the game.”

“The community was really, really impressive and I thought, ‘If there’s one place that’s going to bring me a little closer to the person I really want to be, this whole person, it’s going this institution,’” she said.

Devine said he had “no connection” to Notre Dame except one football game until his visit to campus for a scholarship finalist weekend left him with a lasting impression.

“I remember leaving the press box, and it was really late at night, and I ended up wandering over to the grotto,” he said. “So did about 10 of the other people that I was with, and people just kept coming … and, no joke, three in the morning, it’s freezing outside, and all of us are holding candles praying that we’ll just end up when we’re supposed to end up.”

The pair’s vision for the coming year incorporates their experiences with the Notre Dame community, Vidal said. Devine said they want student government to be accessible to every student and to incorporate ideas from across campus.

Vidal said she and Devine see Notre Dame as an institution with a breadth of knowledge and resources that student government can and should use to facilitate dialogue and action on issues that the student body considers important.

“You think of an issue like sexual assault on campus, so you think of it as a very student-led conversation in terms of student leadership trying to solve [it] … but it’s unique when you step back and you think, we are at a premier university,” Vidal said.

Devine said he and Vidal will focus first on “visible initiatives” such as founding the Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol (SNAP), a supplement to the SafeWalk program, and initiating quad markets, which would bring food products and crafts from farmers markets to Notre Dame’s quads.

He said acting as a representative of the student body presents a unique challenge to faithfully serving the campus community.

“The thing I’m most excited about is also the thing I’m most afraid of too: representing the student body’s opinion, especially the atmosphere at the time,” he said.

“[I will be] able to use that voice, express students’ opinions effectively and give a very accurate temperature of the discussion of the time. “

Vidal said she and other members of her administration had met with the administration of former student body president Alex Coccia and former vice president Nancy Joyce, both seniors, to facilitate the transition process.

“They’ve been great,” She said. “Obviously we need to attribute a lot of credit to them. They’ve been good at catching us up to speed and giving us information on issues as opposed to just logistics, so they’ve really involved us in the conversation, and we’re really grateful for that.”

Devine said he and Vidal expect to hit the ground running when they take office April 1.

“April 1 is not the start date; it’s just a continuation,” he said.

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About Lesley Stevenson

Lesley Stevenson is a senior news writer for The Observer after previously serving as News Editor and an Assistant Managing Editor. She is a senior from Memphis, Tennessee, studying Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) and American Studies and living in Breen-Phillips Hall. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lcstevenson, and visit her website at lcstevenson.wordpress.com

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