Corcoran, Ogden reflect on accomplishments thus far while looking toward next semester
Maria Leontaras | Thursday, December 6, 2018
Seniors Madeleine Corcoran and Kathy Ogden, president and vice president of Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA), said they were prepared for many things during their time as leaders — except former College President Jan Cervelli’s resignation.
Regardless of this occurrence, Corcoran said the transition from Cervelli to Interim College President Nancy Nekvasil was smooth and an opportunity for Corcoran and Ogden to work well with the administration.
“I think overall, this transition was much smoother than anyone probably would have expected. We had such great support, especially from [vice president of student affairs] Karen Johnson, [vice president for mission] Judy Fean, [Interim] President Nekvasil, of course, and [chair of the board of trustees] Mary Burke,” Corcoran said. “ … That’s why we had the All-Student Assembly, so we could have as open and honest of a conversation as possible for students. We’re obviously here to answer any questions, but we know just as much as everyone else, so it was good, I think, for everyone to hear from those people who are the new leaders of the College.”
Nekvasil has been willing to work with the pair in achieving their goals this semester, Corcoran said.
“We love President Nekvasil. She’s been so helpful in working with us, and she’s really here for the students, which I think is something super special and important in a president,” Corcoran said. “She knows Saint Mary’s so well, so we’ve been really fortunate to have that because [Cervelli’s resignation] was definitely unexpected and could have had a lot of hard road blocks along the way, but we’ve been really fortunate.”
Corcoran said she and Ogden have been able to work toward accomplishing many of the points on their platform, specifically getting Blinkie, the student shuttle, running on Sundays and enhancing a few technological aspects on campus.
“We’ve been working very hard to get a couple things done. One is printing from your own device. … That hopefully will be implemented very soon,” she said. “They worked very hard on it over fall break when students were gone. Also, we’re working on a ‘This Week at SMC’ newsletter that will be like a weekly email with all the events instead of so many all-SMC emails.”
Ogden said another initiative from the team’s platform is to enhance Campus Ministry events. To this end, the team began “Lemonade and Le Mans” Mass on Wednesday evenings.
“On Wednesdays at the 9 p.m. Mass in Le Mans, they have popcorn and lemonade,” Ogden said. “I talked to Tara Nelson, who is an [executive] for mission, and she said that normally they had maybe eight girls at Mass, but the attendance has gotten up to 25, 30 girls at Mass. They hang around and they eat popcorn and drink lemonade. [Corcoran] and I have been able to go to quite a few of those Masses, and it worked out well.”
Another major part of the job has been addressing day-to-day issues, Ogden said.
“Things pop up, and you don’t realize you need to work on it, so we did,” she said. “Having graduation — there was an initiative to move it inside of Angela, so we really fought hard for the students, and it’s now officially outside of Le Mans, weather permitting.”
The pair also recognized a need to enhance the collaborative spaces available on campus, Ogden said, such as the SGA office located on the second floor of the Student Center.
“We’re redoing the SGA office. [Corcoran] and I saw that it was a well-used office,” she said. “All the clubs and organizations are welcome to use it, and they each have closets. That’s taken a good amount of time, and hopefully after Christmas break, it’ll be completely finished. It’ll be nice for all the students to use.”
Another way the team hoped to enhance collaboration and communication between the leaders of SGA’s Big Boards — Residence Hall Association, Student Diversity Board, Student Activities Board, Class Council and Student Government Association — was to switch from weekly to biweekly meetings, Ogden said.
“[The meetings] are biweekly, but we’re able to sit down and have a longer meeting where it’s very much discussion-based,” she said. “We’re all more engaged. It’s not just a tap in, quick meeting, so we’re all really engaged in what each Big Board is doing. It’s conversation-based, and I think that’s really helped with collaborating with all the clubs and organizations.”
Though many of the pair’s initiatives focus on the Saint Mary’s community specifically, Corcoran said they are working on a major event to unite the members of the surrounding community.
“There’s already a ‘Back the Bend’ event that Saint Mary’s is already a part of, but Student Government is hoping to promote it more and be a greater part of it this year,” Corcoran said. “That’s in the spring, so our community co-chairs will be working on that more specifically to hopefully build, first of all, community within the tri-campus community, but as well as South Bend in general, our greater community.”
Corcoran and Ogden have been continuing work on past initiatives, Corcoran said, like expanding the uses of Munch Money.
“We talked to Karen Johnson about it very early on this year as well as Ken Acosta. They’re very much supportive of it,” she said. “They said for this year it’d be hard, but they see the need, and they’re working on seeing what options are the best for Saint Mary’s students and the most feasible. I definitely think we’ll work on it more. At first we thought it’d be a two or three-year timeline for the project, but we think even next year it might be a possibility, so that’s great.”
Throughout the semester of work, both Corcoran and Ogden said they could not have achieved what they have without one another and the other board members.
“[Ogden] and I definitely lean on each other at times, too,” Corcoran said. “If one of us has a tough week, I think we’re pretty good about being able to say, ‘Can you go to this meeting this week?’ or ‘Can you send the emails?’ or something like that. I definitely couldn’t do it without [Ogden] and our entire student government board. Everyone is so great at doing their jobs, so we don’t have to be sending reminders constantly or anything like that, which is really important.”
As the two continue working toward the end of their positions, Corcoran said she’s hoping for a smooth transition to the next pair of SGA leaders.
“I think something that’s really important is that transition to whoever’s in our position next year, so that we can really clearly explain exactly what we have done so far and where we’re at, so if anything isn’t finished that they feel that it’s an important enough item to complete,” Corcoran said. “Hopefully that way we can have a smooth transition and strong communication with next year’s president and vice president is definitely something really important to us.”
Corcoran and Ogden are moving forward with many of the key aspects of their platform. Though the pair is working hard on their initiatives, they could benefit from better communication with the student body as a whole. Much of their progress is not known by a majority of the student body, and they would benefit from better publicity.