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Student government stays connected with University community

| Friday, April 24, 2020

Despite the distance, Notre Dame’s student government continues to operate remotely and serve the student body with online programming and events.

Although events like Back the Bend — a day of service which allows students to give back to the South Bend community —were canceled due to the transition online, student body president Rachel Ingal and vice president Sarah Galbenski — both juniors — have found ways to continue to connect to the Notre Dame community.

Ingal said the governing team has started hosting virtual office hours as one way to stay connected.

“We just want to be a safe space if anybody wants to talk, just needs a friend, has an idea of how they could support the community or just has any questions or concerns about how we’re transitioning forward and moving into an uncertain landscape,” Ingal said.

According to an email sent to the Notre Dame community Tuesday, office hours will be held Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon EST and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. EST. Ingal and Galbenski hope to further develop this initiative.

“We’re in communication with our communications director about getting a questions/comments/suggestions box on the student government website to make it very easy for students to come to us with any ways they think that the University could improve,” Galbenski said.

Student government also has created its #StayHomeND initiative to connect with students.

“We wanted to give people something productive and engaging to be doing, just [to] offer some options,” Ingal said. ”So we kicked it off with our workout classes this weekend.”

The workout classes included a yoga session hosted by junior Erica Steigauf and a dance cardio class hosted by sophomore Sarah Duarte. Those who missed the workout classes can watch the sessions on student government’s YouTube channel. A cooking class will be also be shared on the channel.

“We’ve had an outpouring of support coming into our inboxes from students who are just eager to help and provide some sort of generosity at this time,” Ingal said. “So we’ve been working with those students to channel how we can best support the community [and] what gaps need to be filled the most.”

To maintain its administrative work, student government continues to meet over Zoom, Galbenski said.

“I have been able to have a virtual coffee chat with almost every senator, to learn about their interests and the upcoming term, what policy areas they’re excited about working on,” Galbenski said.

With two meetings left this semester, senate aims to pass a budget for the next school year and address the Notre Dame student body government constitution.

“There are a lot of things we need to get done before May 1, such as the approval of the Student Union budget, so that will be something major that will be occurring in the senate,” Galbenski said.

Ingal and Galbenski said it is the student body that will continue to hold the Notre Dame community together and that student government serves in order to better achieve that goal.

“We do have a platform,” Ingal said. “So [we] are able to use our platform to take the amazing work that people are doing and amplify that and coordinate it so that it can be best distributed to the entire student body.”

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