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McGavick, Gayheart, Tucker reflect on leadership term

| Friday, May 17, 2019

Editor’s note: A version of this story was published in the print edition of The Observer on April 2. 

After a long election process and year in office, seniors Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart reflected on their term as outgoing student body president and vice president, respectively. McGavick had just one word to describe his feelings on his term in office ending.

“Bittersweet,” he said. “I think it feels like it’s definitely time, you know, we’ve been here for a year, and I think we’re all looking forward to being able to focus on other areas of our life. But as we go through the list of things we did, I think we’re all noticing stuff like, oh man, we could have done that. [We are] looking forward to the next administration doing that. For me, it’s been bittersweet.”

Gayheart expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to represent Notre Dame’s student body and to serve students as vice president.

“It has been an immense learning experience,” Gayheart said. “We have learned a lot not only about the University but our peers, about working in professional environments and working in a large team with dedicated people, and I think that we’re grateful for the opportunity that we had to represent 8,000 of some of the smartest students in the world.”

Photo courtesy of Ben Padanilam
Seniors Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart completed their terms as outgoing student body president and vice president, respectively, on April 1.

In reflecting back on their year in office, McGavick said that one of the administration’s biggest accomplishments was their success in supporting the goals of other student organizations, including the club funding initiative passed by student senate two weeks earlier.

“I think we did a really good job of supporting other student groups, which I think is a really critical part of what student government should be,” McGavick said. “We got more money for clubs, we paid out thousands and thousands of dollars in sponsorships and grants to enable other student groups … As opposed to always driving the conversation, I think we were able to enable other people who are really well equipped to improve this campus in their own right.”

The McGavick-Gayheart ticket ran with a campaign slogan of “Approachability, Collaboration and Transformative [Ideas].” Senior and outgoing chief of staff for the administration Briana Tucker said the team fulfilled their promise of approachability through their interactions and collaborations with University administration.

“I think we were also very approachable in terms of our … approach to administrators,” Tucker said. “We came in with an open mind and came in with a perspective [of], we want to learn, we understand that we have the same goals — we just have a different perspective on how your work can be better received by students. We were able to really work collaboratively with them to help them push their agenda, per se, in terms of getting out some of the more effective programming that they were doing to students and working in that regard.”

As for the team’s collaborative efforts, McGavick added that their partnerships with different groups include, but extend beyond student organizations.

“We have worked with so many incredible student groups over the course of this year, and we are proud to co-sponsor events like Race Relations Week, Black Hair Expo [and] Take Back the Night,” he said. “We gave multiple grants to political groups on campus to encourage political discussion. We worked with campus dining time and time again to try and improve students’ dining experiences on campus both in the dining halls and outside the dining halls. We worked with NDPD on holding the first Student Safety Summit as well as disseminating important safety information across campus … We also worked with residence life to gather important information on issues with dorm maintenance. I think we just went in with the mindset that we never turn down a chance to work with any group on campus, be it a student group or an administrative group.”

McGavick expressed his newfound appreciation for student government’s contributions to the University at large.

“It was unexpected to me how important student government’s role actually is,” he said. “Being very frank, I used to have a pretty dim view of student government when I was a younger student here. But the role that student government can play … in connecting administrators with the student body, no other group has the capacity to do it that we do.”

Tucker said she believes the administration did enact a positive change on campus.

“I think we got to do a lot of stuff, just thinking about all the meetings and things that I was able to sit in, both with the team and on my own, and then just also things that I was helping people with,” Tucker said. “I think we moved the needle just a little bit. I understand that we weren’t able to do everything, and there were so many more things that we wanted to accomplish … but I hope that we have been able to make some sort of substantial impact on campus. I think a lot of the programming that we did has done that, even if it’s in a very small way.”

As for the future, McGavick said he looks forward to the next administration’s contributions to Notre Dame, as well as the opportunity that the University has to participate in the conversation about the crisis in the Catholic Church.

“I’m really excited to see where Elizabeth and Pat take student government,” he said. “I’ve been really impressed with them during this transition. I know that they have a bunch of great ideas that I hope they’ll carry out. I think that Notre Dame has an opportunity right now to play a very, very crucial, forefront role in the crisis in the Church right now. I don’t think that Notre Dame has stepped up to the plate in the ways that it can. I think we began the work of student government being very vocal and very direct about that. I look forward to seeing that continue, and I look forward to seeing students on Notre Dame’s campus push Notre Dame to fulfill its destiny as driving these important conversations.”

Gayheart echoed McGavick’s sentiment, saying the incoming leaders still involved on campus inspire hope through their desire to create positive change at Notre Dame.  

“The young leaders in student government now have given me hope,” Gayheart said. “A lot of the younger senators who will still be continuing their roles elsewhere, some of the hall presidents, some of our cabinet members, class council people. I’ve found my hope for Notre Dame in them and their work and their actions and their commitment to it.”

The administration’s term officially ended Monday.

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About Claire Rafford

Claire is a senior from Tempe, Arizona majoring in English and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy and Business-Economics. She peaked when her team won the Battle of the Books state championship in 2011.

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