2017 student government department reviews
Department of Health and Wellness
Junior health and wellness commissioner Jade Martinez has been working to restructure the department to work more efficiently. This strategic change has resulted in the addition of commissioner positions, including two mental health commissioners, one physical health commissioner, one McWell commissioner and one sexual health commissioner. The addition of these positions has made the challenging task of organizing events easier, and it has given members the opportunity to be involved with a more specific aspect of health and wellness. The commissioners also act as liaisons to other organizations on campus. This semester, the department led projects such as reorganization of University Health Services, stress relief events and the restructuring of student health insurance.
Department of Student Life
Despite being a new department this year, the Department of Student Life has worked in a wide variety of areas including campus dining, student transport and programming. This fall, Student Life worked with several other departments to lead “Flick on the Field,” where juniors and department co-directors Caitlin Murphy and Tim O’Connell served as emcees. Student Life also received dining hall feedback from students, and the department is planning to relaunch a grab ‘n go system in North Dining Hall. Other dining hall improvements include working with campus dining marketing to make dining hall menus more accessible on social media. The most important upcoming event for the department will be the TEDxUND series this spring, during which 16 speakers will present.
Department of Social Concerns
The Department of Social Concerns, led by senior director Austin Matheny, is currently working to utilize the televisions in North Dining Hall to to publish sustainability messages, especially about how students can take food out of the dining hall in sustainable ways. The department has partnered with the Department of Community Engagement and Outreach to publish bus routes and schedules in the bars in downtown South Bend, giving students a more sustainable option than taxis, ride apps and designated drivers. Social Concerns recently partnered with Deloitte to host an event that delivered care packages to veterans. Additionally, the department, alongside FossilFreeND, has submitted a proposal to implement a committee on ethical investments, the primary purpose being to propose changes to the University’s investment in fossil fuel companies.
Department of Diversity and Inclusion
Under sophomore representative Kaleem Minor’s leadership, the Diversity and Inclusion Council focused on three main initiatives this fall: assessing diversity education for students, promoting allyship amongst students and solving the academic gap in the College of Science. The council was able to shape the cultural competency modules for the Moreau First Year Experience course, adding Show Some Skin and GreeNDot as capstone experiences for the class. To promote allyship among the Notre Dame community, the council once again hosted events and campaigns to support undocumented students and their families, including Stand Against Hate week and Cost of Silence week. Lastly, the Council worked with the College of Science to conduct a study of the academic gap between achievement for students.
Department of Campus Technology
Under the leadership of junior Sean McMahon, the Campus Technology department has transformed from an isolated sector of student government to an integrated component of all of its departments. The department collected data from 2,000 undergrads about their opinions surrounding technology on campus for campus groups to utilize in their decision-making processes. Campus Technology has also regularly attended and presented at various administrative panels to inform University decision-making, including the University Committee on Academic Technologies, Learning Management Guidance Council, ND Mobile Advisory Committee and the Irish1Card Development Team. McMahon also prompted NDSP to update their online Crime Log to become more user-friendly.
Director of Gender Relations
Sophomore Isabel Rooper, director of Gender Relations, decided to separate the goals of the department this year into four sections: consent education, sexual assault prevention and awareness, sexual health education and resources and LGBT awareness and resources. To improve consent education, Gender Relations has partnered with the Gender Relations Center (GRC) to release consent posters and update the BCND videos, which all freshman are required to watch. Rooper, alongside the director of Health and Wellness, also worked to add more sexual health information to the University Health Services website. She also aims to partner with the GRC on ally week programming and to work with Residential Life on Resident Assistant training with regard to LGBT awareness.
First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership
Department directors junior Trever Carter and sophomore Molly Walsh have been working to redesign FUEL to better accomplish its mission of developing effective and dedicated leaders, using hands-on experience and leadership development materials in the hopes of maintaining participation from all members in their sophomore year. The team devised a curriculum of TED Talks, speeches and articles focused on necessary leadership qualities and planned meetings to alternate between discussion of those materials and updates on FUEL members’ departments. FUEL also expedited the process for member selection, completing the process in mid-September rather than mid-October and integrating their 20 members into their respective departments.
Department of Communications
The department has been working to revamp the student government website since April, and those site changes are to be published over Christmas break. The department is redesigning the Transpo route maps in partnership with the Department of Community Engagement, and partnered with the Department of Technology to rebrand Onward, a resource allowing students to voice their opinions and questions to student government more directly. Finally, the department is working to revamp the University’s social media presence, developing a more streamlined process for scheduling social media posts and incorporating video content, and it is currently editing the “Shakedown” series of interviews with University administrators.
Department of Community Engagement
This department has been working to highlight South Bend’s attractions for students, publicizing local events, deals and restaurants on social media and through posters, and adding find.nd.edu — a resource to find such attractions — onto the ND Mobile App. The department is also seeking to increase participation in local internships, meeting with local organizations and companies regarding student opportunities over school breaks and prompting several organizations to add new positions. The department is planning a panel on local business and a networking event in the Duncan Student Center for next semester. The department’s main national engagement effort is a podcast on relevant political issues, which the it is currently working on making a more regular series.
Department of Academic Affairs
One of sophomore department director John Henry Hobgood’s main goals this semester was to continue to improve Majors Night. Partnering with the First Year of Studies, the department changed the date of the event from January to November, allowing students to explore majors and minors before registration for the spring semester so they could take classes in those disciplines. The department is working on several other initiatives, including publicizing the availability of online courses that fulfill most University requirements over the summer; requiring mental health resources on course syllabi, for which they have submitted a resolution to the faculty senate; and increasing transparency regarding acceptance rates, average GPAs and costs of study abroad programs. Finally, the department is relaunching its Last Lecture series, an event where a faculty member gives a lecture as if it were his or her last.