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Vidal delivers State of the Student Union to senate

| Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Student body president Lauren Vidal delivered her State of the Student Union address last night at the final student Senate meeting of the 2014-2015 term.

In the speech, Vidal quoted a 1985 note from Fr. Ted Hesburgh, describing the 10 commandments of student leaders.

“I would like to introduce a note from Fr. Hesburgh to the then-student body president and vice president,” the senior said.

“‘Politics is the art of the possible, so pick out some realistic goals and really go for them,’” she said, quoting Hesburgh.

Vidal also thanked the senators, as well as the cabinet that served under her and student body vice president Matthew Devine before highlighting some of this year’s successes, including the launch of the O’SNAP app and forming contracts with The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal as part of the student readership program. She also mentioned some of the most pressing issues the University still has to contend with, particularly the mental health of its students.

Vidal, Devine and Shannon Montague, Student Union chief of staff, gave the spring Board of Trustees presentation, which focused on addressing issues with the mental health of Notre Dame students. Vidal said they had reviewed an assortment of research of Notre Dame’s peer universities, such as Duke, to better understand the problem at Notre Dame.

“Many of [Duke’s] professors have published articles on the culture of their campus,” Vidal said. “There is an entire article, as well as a survey, about perfectionism at Duke, acknowledging that perfectionism exists and affects the majority of students who make it to these elite universities. Perfectionism is linked to instances of depression and severe anxiety.”

Two resolutions were presented. The first, presented by Vidal and Montague on behalf of Devine, proposed the submission of an open letter from Notre Dame’s student body to the University’s peer institutions regarding the deaths of three Muslim students at the University of North Carolina. Devine, who could not present the resolution because he currently serves as the chair of senate, wrote the letter in conjunction with Diversity Council and the Muslim Student Association (MSA).

Several senators brought up their concerns with the letter, noting that it came off as “too introspective” and did not portray Notre Dame in a positive light, resulting in a discussion of different aspects of the appropriateness of the letter. Vidal said she felt the letter needed more collaboration, and said she agreed that the wording needed to be reconsidered. She officially tabled the resolution until the senate meeting next week, when Devine will be out of office and able to speak on his own behalf with the senators.

The second resolution, presented by Morrissey Hall senator Brian Cimons, was intended to clarify an ambiguity regarding student endorsements of candidates or tickets, specifically to prevent succession planning.

Kathryn Peruski, president of Judicial Council, said the ambiguity needed to be addressed but that this specific resolution was not adequate, partially because student groups, such as the Student Union and the Student Activities Office, did not have rules outlined clearly enough. Peruski also said that the resolution in general needed to be more clear.

“Judicial Council agrees this is a section that needs to be tackled,” Peruski said. “It is ambiguous and causing problems. It needs to be tackled slowly and carefully so the language is the best and that we are protecting the constitution and what is written here, and it doesn’t need to be tackled today.”

The resolution was not passed, and the issue will be addressed next term.

The newly-elected student senators will be sworn in for their first meeting next Wednesday.


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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley was Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. She majored in English and the Program of Liberal Studies and hailed from Flushing, Michigan.

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