Incoming student government administration looks to create a more inclusive Notre Dame
Mariah Rush | Tuesday, April 2, 2019
After being elected to serve the student body Feb. 6, junior Elizabeth Boyle and sophomore Patrick McGuire began their term Monday as Notre Dame student body president and vice president, respectively.
The pair consulted soon-to-be former student body president and vice president, seniors Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart for help on making the transition as smooth as possible.
“Generally they’ve just been helpful, not only in giving us tangible steps, like these are the groups that you’re running and this is the work and the timeline of things, but also more big picture of how much of a blessing this is that we get to serve the student body in this way,” Boyle said.
Boyle and McGuire have goals they hope to accomplish before summer break and maintain throughout the coming academic year.
“The first thing we are trying to do is get our cabinet confirmed in the Senate, and we’re also adding two new cabinet positions — the director of sustainability and the director of social concerns positions will now be separate,” Boyle said. “We’re also adding a new department of student empowerment.”
Boyle and McGuire are working on looking at consolidating information for student clubs and funding options online, as well as integrating GreeNDot training into bars off campus through a “Safe Bars” program.
“We’re also working on the ‘Safe Bars’ program right now, with the hopes of doing two GreeNDot trainings in bars off campus by the end of this year, so that bars can become GreeNDot friendly and certified for students to know that there are resources in the community,” Boyle said.
McGuire said they hope to continue work done by the McGavick and Gayheart administration, especially as some events overlap between the two terms.
“We are working with Corey and Gates as well to make sure that their hard work and the work of their cabinet is brought to fruition in our term,” McGuire said.
One of the events that overlap between the two administrations is Take Back the Night on April 25, which is during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The McGavick and Gayheart administration primarily planned the event, while Boyle and McGuire will work with them on executing it.
“We are also sponsoring Sexual Assault Awareness Month,” Boyle said. “I think that’s one big thing we want to stress — we want people helping out with the Take Back the Night event and making sure that students really turn out in support for that as well.”
To kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Gender Relations Center — with the support of student government — is sponsoring the Clothesline Project on Tuesday.
“It’s a really cool innovative idea which strings clothes plus six stories of survivors on the clothesline and calls to mind the misconception — which is kind of perfect in line with the leggings protests going on right now — of how what survivors wear is never an excuse for the violence that they have to endure,” Boyle said.
Boyle and McGuire would like to work more with the South Bend community on ways to involve Notre Dame students with the city around them and vice versa. Boyle said they are working on creating a punch card system with a local restaurant, L Street Kitchen.
“We’ve also already met with a bunch of local vendors in South Bend about ways to kind of involve their business with Notre Dame and how we can help them in their reverse as well,” Boyle said. “L Street Kitchen is really interested in getting more connected with the Notre Dame community, so one thing that we’re helping set up right now is discounted rates for either one or two days during the week for Notre Dame students.”
McGuire said a more immediate project they are working on is decorating the student government office in LaFortune Student Center with student-made art to create a feeling of community within the administration. McGuire said they want to continue the feeling of approachability from the previous administration.
“[McGavick and Gayheart] use the word approachability to describe student government, which is something I think we’ve definitely admired,” McGuire said. “We want to make student government more of a resource for students and not like something detached. I think it’s something we really like and hope to continue from them.”
One of Boyle and McGuire’s long-term goals is to reform the non-discrimination clause in the University’s bylaws to include sexual orientation and gender identity. To do that, they will need to work hand-in-hand with the University’s administration.
“We want to reform and change the non-discrimination clause, which is a legally binding document,” Boyle said. “We would have to work within the University structure in order to change that. That will involve conversations with administration. I also think dorm equity is going to be another big conversation that we’ll have to have with the Office of Housing and administrators.”
Boyle emphasized that working together with the University’s administration will be important in order for both sides to see the other’s perspective.
“It’s just as we don’t serve and sit in the Dome, they don’t sit in the classrooms,” Boyle said. “How can we bring the voices of the students to administrators a bit more?”
Overall, Boyle and McGuire — as well as their chief of staff, junior Linde Hoffman — said they are excited and grateful to be able to lead the student body for the upcoming year.
“By the end of this term, I really want students to feel that we are a resource of students and for students and that it’s not just a small group of people working on policy and programming,” Boyle said. “But rather it’s something that’s created to serve the student body in the best way possible. I want people to come into this office with a feeling of joy, pride in Notre Dame, pride in being a part of Notre Dame and pride in the things that we’re doing to make it a more inclusive Notre Dame.”