McGavick, Gayheart share plans, goals for year ahead
Kelli Smith | Friday, April 6, 2018
Juniors Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart took on their new roles Wednesday as Notre Dame’s student body president and vice president, respectively.
With the center point of the new leadership’s initiatives revolving around communication, McGavick said implementing a student government communication strategy that will effectively disseminate information and engage the student body is one of the first projects he hopes to tackle this semester and maintain throughout next year.
“Communication and connecting with students [is our number one goal],” Gayheart said. “ … And with that, we’re hoping that a better understanding of what [student government] does will come with it because at the end of the day, we have to make sure that people understand and know what we’re capable of doing and also what we are doing.”
Other focuses for the rest of the semester include laying the foundation for a few minor projects, Gayheart and McGavick said, such as working with Campus Dining, confirming the housing waiver system, evaluating dorm maintenance, looking at the allocation of funds across clubs and improving the “blue light” security system.
“We are meeting with our executive cabinet Friday and Sunday, and over the course of those two meetings we are looking at setting a concrete deadlines agenda for the rest of the year,” Gayheart said. “… [But] we also don’t want our agenda to be concretely set because we think that’s going to limit our flexibility. We want to make sure that our students, the student body, is driving the agenda.”
As the new chief-of-staff, junior Bri Tucker said the transition to their roles was made smoother by the array of perspectives they’ve heard from their newly-established team.
“We’ve been so excited to finally get the ball rolling,” Tucker said. “It has been delayed for so long and finally transitioning and coming into the office and settling in, I think is starting to make everything a little bit more tangible. … We’re getting the right people in place, we’re building our team, and I’ve been impressed so far with what people have been able to bring to the table.”
After evaluating nearly 90 applications for different roles in the executive cabinet, McGavick said he, Gayheart and Turner selected their nominees, all of whom were confirmed in Wednesday’s senate meeting, based off getting the best representation of student life possible.
“It definitely took several nights, late nights, to figure out where people fit [and] how to best complement areas where there are co-directors [since] people complement each other with the leadership styles they bring to the table,” McGavick said. “ … I think I can speak for Corey and Bri that we’re incredibly happy with the choices we ended up making.”
Alongside establishing relationships with their executive cabinet and Notre Dame administrators, hearing advice from their predecessors in the outgoing administration — senior Becca Blais, senior Sibonay Shewit and junior Prathm Juneja — was key to their preparation, McGavick said.
“One thing Becca told me that stuck with me is in making final decisions — just getting as many viewpoints from a diverse range of ideologies and backgrounds as possible and that’s something that we tried to reflect in putting together our cabinet,” he said.
Tucker said though the transition into their positions occurred later than anticipated, they have the right people in place to mobilize the student body and start making changes.
“[Juneja told me] it’s not about having a position of power, it’s not about making a list and just checking things off,” Turner said. “It’s really about mobilizing the people that you get in the room and really making a tangible difference in the lives of students and so I thought that was really really helpful.”
Though adjusting to a work-life balance has been challenging, McGavick said the team is looking forward to building relationships with administrators to voice student concerns directly and act as messengers of the student body.
“We just want to generate the best relationships with administrators we have so we can see tangible and incremental progress from the student body and build on what’s been done in past years in terms of relationships between student government and administrators,” McGavick said. “That’s of course a challenge because of how busy Notre Dame’s administration is … [but] it’s been going well so far.”
An additional challenge, Gayheart said, is making sure senate, the executive cabinet, the student union and the student body are all looking to the future and are “forward-focused.”
“We want to be persistently positive,” he said. “Just given the nature of everything up to this point, we want to make sure that we’re a smiling, happy face and that we’re always talking with outside people and outside voices.”
How zeroed-in the administration is, McGavick said, was a silver-lining of the rushed transition.
“We know exactly where we’re headed and really believe in our people,” he said. “For me, it’s just an honor talking to my predecessor throughout the transition [and] getting to sit in that office where campus leaders sat for years. This is a place I love so much, and having the opportunity to serve it I think will always be incredibly special.”