Ricketts, Ruelas reflect on time in office
Rachel O'Grady | Friday, May 13, 2016
Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared online April 1.
When their time in office ended April 1, outgoing student body president and vice president Bryan Ricketts and Nidia Ruelas said they were proud of the work they did and excited for the work left to do.
“It’s very bittersweet. I’m excited for Corey and Becca to get a start, for the cabinet to take on some issues that affect our students. I’m excited to get some time back to myself, but it’s also, as we’re getting ready and giving them all these transition materials and prepping … it’s bittersweet,” Ricketts said.
Ricketts said the inability to continue working on the many initiatives set forth by their administration is frustrating; however, he said he is excited to see how the next administration steps up.
“We’re putting together these materials on issues that are going on — I keep saying ‘Oh, I could do this,’ but no, I can’t anymore and that’s hard,” he said.
Ruelas said it has been a privilege to serve as vice president for the past academic year.
“I feel very proud of everything we’ve accomplished this year. We’ve had so many successes and failures. I think that in all of those, though, we’ve learned so much — about ourselves, about the people we work with — and I’d like to say that we’ve all grown, as individuals and as a group,” she said.
In a high-pressure and result-driven environment, growth is something that is hard to quantify, Ruelas said.
“It’s something you can’t put a timeline on, you can’t put any kind of measure or value on, but I feel very proud that we’ve come this far and been able to accomplish so much,” she said.
Ricketts said he was happy with the execution of their campaign promise to promote sexual assault awareness.
“With the ‘It’s on Us’ campaign out in the dorms and getting people talking about that and helping funnel them into the Green Dot program, I think we were very successful,” he said. “I’m happy with the work we did on our board report, researching and walking with survivors of sexual violence, in particular with the conduct process and the Title IX process and what we needed to improve with that.”
The University has promised to release the campus climate survey results from last year, which Ricketts said was a major success for his administration.
“I’m pretty happy on the transparency front as well,” he said. “Getting the promise of releasing the survey was huge. I think that was one of, if not our biggest goal. That’s all stuff to be proud of, I think.”
Ruelas said the administration also made progress improving the climate at the University as it pertains to sexual assault.
“From the prayer services, and getting students to attend those, to asking people to think about being active bystanders and understanding that it’s all on us as individuals to really make sure that we identify situations and step in … we’ve created a culture of caring, all the time — even when it’s the hardest thing to do,” she said.
Ricketts said he has learned a lot about himself and grown as a leader during the past year.
“I understand a lot more about who I am and what I want to accomplish, but also how to do all that through relationships — with the administrators, with the cabinet, with the people that aren’t in student government at all. You go back to at the end of the day and ask for help, and all those relationships were key,” Ricketts said.
Ruelas said she also learned about the importance of relationships, particularly hers with the student body.
“I’ve learned about how resilient we are as a student body, and how important that is to accomplishing our goals, and it really is that we hold each other accountable to a higher standard of character,” she said. “I think that that’s been super important, as we’ve had to learn for ourselves, and we’ve had to tap into that desire to always be better and that desire to always be the best people we can be.”
As they leave office and the incoming Robinson-Blais administration takes over, Ricketts said he hopes that they have left a strong foundation, particularly in regards to the relationship between the University and South Bend.
“I know [that relationship] is a major focus of so many people, Corey and Becca included, but also so many people across the community, and we’ve tried to get the word out there about South Bend,” Ricketts said. “… The future of Notre Dame is with the future of South Bend, and that’s become evidently clear. I hope we’ve left a good foundation for that to grow on.”