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Boyle, McGuire begin term with student senate session

| Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Newly elected student senators took office Monday evening, creating new executive departments and approving executive cabinet nominees in their first meeting of the year.

Monday marked the first day of the 2019-2020 session of Notre Dame’s student government, and incoming student body president, junior Elizabeth Boyle and vice president, sophomore Patrick McGuire officially began their term. McGuire presided over Monday’s senate meeting, outlining the administration’s new initiatives and their vision for the year.

Senators approved Boyle and McGuire’s resolution, creating two new standing executive departments: the Department of Sustainability and the Department of Student Empowerment.

Currently, the Department of Social Concerns handles sustainability initiatives in the executive cabinet, but after speaking with former directors of the department, Boyle and McGuire determined sustainability needs its own department.

“We really noticed a need for creative specialization,” McGuire said. “Focusing two departments — one on social concerns and one on sustainability — [will] give greater focus to two really important areas.”

Boyle and McGuire hope the new Department of Student Empowerment will help them better serve student needs, McGuire said.

McGuire explained many student needs don’t fit neatly into a single department, and the Department of Student Empowerment “could act as a resource for students and more effectively address some of those intersectional issues.”

The new Department of Student Empowerment will supplement the work of the Department of Student Life, which handles individual student concerns and requests. Student Empowerment will oversee issues pertaining to study abroad, arts outreach, student clubs and opportunities and international student experiences.

“The goal is not to take from the Department of Student Life manpower but to bolster it,” McGuire said.

Specifically, the Department of Student Empowerment will facilitate communication between students and the Club Coordination Council (CCC), which decides how to allocate funding between student clubs.

“We’d love to reach out to the broader student body instead of just to existing club officers,” senior Samantha Scaglione, outgoing president of the CCC, said. ”In order to do that, we [need] to work with existing branches of the Student Union with access to that big listserve of all of [the undergraduate students] on campus.” 

The senate also approved Boyle and McGuire’s nominees for their new administration. Senators confirmed the 2019-2020 chief of staff, Student Union secretary, executive controller and Judicial Council parliamentarian.

Senators also confirmed the directors of the departments of Academic Affairs, Athletics Representation, Communications, Diversity and Inclusion, Faith and Service, FUEL, Health and Wellbeing, Social Concerns, Student Empowerment, Student Life and Sustainability.

However, Boyle and McGuire left four department director positions unfilled: Campus Technology and Integration, Community Outreach and Engagement, Gender Relations and University Policy.

Boyle and McGuire’s nominees for these unfilled positions are studying abroad this semester. The undergraduate Judicial Council informed Boyle and McGuire on March 5 that a provision in the Student Union constitution prohibits these students, who will return to campus in the fall, from serving as cabinet directors.

This constitutional provision was the subject of a lengthy debate at last week’s senate meeting, the last meeting of the 2018-2019 session. Boyle and McGuire said they will propose an amendment changing this provision in the coming weeks, but they want to give senators time to adjust to their new positions.

“We don’t want to force a very important resolution on a brand new senate,” McGuire said to the group.

Next week, the CCC will be presenting before the student senate. The CCC’s presentation will continue the discussion about club funding, a defining issue of the outgoing McGavick-Gayheart administration.

As the meeting came to a close, McGuire signaled his excitement for the term ahead.

“This is going to be the start to a great year,” McGuire said.

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