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Student body president delivers state of the student union address in first senate meeting of the year

The Notre Dame student senate received a state of the student union address, amended the 2022-2023 senate bylaws and nominated members to the Campus Life Council and committee on the constitution during its first meeting of the semester Wednesday evening.

Student body vice president Sofie Stitt took over the reins from there, presiding over the meeting alongside senate parliamentarian Jared Schlachet. Stitt explained that as chairperson of the senate, her job is to lead the meetings while Schlachet ensures that the procedure outlined in the constitution is followed.

The senate quickly voted to approve the minutes from the prior meeting before student body president Patrick Lee delivered a state of the student union.

Student body vice president Sofie Stitt speaks during the first senate meeting of the year in the Montgomery Auditorium in LaFortune Student Center. (Photo by Peter Breen/The Observer)

Lee communicated a categorically positive expectation for this academic year in his speech.

“I think we’re in a good spot. We have brilliant people here and plenty of good ideas, and knock on wood, but COVID seems to be in the past,” Lee said.

The chief student government executive encouraged the many branches of the student union to continue to work hard in order to positively impact the Notre Dame community.

“If you think that wages are too low, you can raise them,” Lee said. “If you think that residential life or any group on campus has issues, we in this room can really do a lot to sort it out.”

The president’s speech ended with a call for student unity. 

“I think really what I want to tell you guys today is whether or not we as a student union succeed is not dependent on administrator response. It’s about our own effort to follow through and our ability to work together,” Lee said.

The next time Lee will address the student senate is in six weeks during the assembly before fall break.

Stitt concluded the executive announcements portion of the meeting by urging senators to make themselves visible to first-years and asking the representatives to fill out a survey to help improve dorm gyms.

Next on the agenda was the nomination of senior Meghan Swantkowski as president of The Shirt Project. The senate moved quickly from questioning to debate before confirming Swantkowski as president of the club.

The senate then approved in a block vote three nominations to the committee on the constitution.

“The committee on the constitution is a senate committee that essentially reviews constitutional amendments before they are presented to senate and also evaluates and debates potential changes to the student union,” Schlachet said.

More contested than the three committee on the constitution nominations were the nominations of one male and one female senator to the Campus Life Council . 

“The council is a group of student leaders, rectors, faculty members, and representatives from the office of Fr. Gerry [Olinger] in the Division of Student Affairs,” Lee explained.

After 30-second speeches by the both nominated senators and their supporters, sophomore Connor McCloskey from Keenan Hall and sophomore Trista Brantley from Breen-Phillips Hall were elected to the council in a closed vote.

The senate then considered order SO2223-06 to amend the 2022-2023 student senate bylaws to clarify section five, which outlines the process for approving the student union budget for the new term. The order passed without debate.

Before wrapping up the meeting, the senate listened to a resolution calling for self-scheduling at University Health Services.

Finally, senators heard announcements from their fellow representatives. Of note, first-year class council elections will be held Sept. 15.