Categories
News

Mid-Year Reviews

By Bella Laufenberg
By Liam Price
By Liam Kelly
Categories
News

Lee-Stitt administration rides momentum into final semester in roles

Notre Dame student government leaders Patrick Lee, Sofie Stitt, Nicole Baumann and their directors took office on April 1, 2022. Now, at the end of the second semester in their roles, The Observer spoke to the executive cabinet to get an update on their plans and progress. 

Lee and Stitt, the student body president and vice president, respectively, said one surprising outcome of their work is how close the executive cabinet has become. 

“[One indicator] of great success to me is just the relationships that we have with our directors and between the directors,” Lee said. “We have a very strong sense of group identity now, we’re all very close. That, to me, has been an unexpected blessing this semester.”

Stitt, agreeing, said their cabinet is a “complete joy” to work with. 

Chief of staff Baumann, who works closely with the cabinet, explained that this semester contained more action steps rather than planning. 

“Last year in the spring was a lot of the dreaming phase and planning,” she said. “[This semester,] not only have we been able to see a lot of execution of those plans that we thought about back in March of last year, but we’ve also been able to form really good relationships with people in administration.”

Lee compared the cabinet’s movement toward carrying out long-thought plans as putting “rubber to the road” and is confident they will reach 100% completion of the goals outlined in their progress tracker. Currently, 46% of goals have been met, with around 50% of the group’s term now in the rearview mirror.  

“A lot of the hardest work in student government is the work that’s behind the scenes: the research, the report writing, the initial meetings that are sometimes uncomfortable on some of the biggest initiatives,” Lee said. “Those are out of the way, and we’re ready to reap the rewards of the really hard work that we’ve done this semester.”

Stitt explained that many goals are right on the precipice of being completed, noting that “Walk the Walk Week” will occur in the first week of the spring 2023 semester. This year’s programming will focus on the theme, “Education, Celebration and Participation” and will feature a service project, multiple panels and a dinner celebration. 

The leaders highlighted a few of their cabinet members for exceptional work throughout the semester: Anna Dray, Lane Obringer and Collete Doyle. 

Dray, the director of University Policy, has been developing the ND Safe App with police chief Keri Kei Shibata, leading the transition to mobile identification (ID) cards and organizing efforts to upgrade residence hall exercise facilities. 

In the aftermath of a series of various allegations surrounding Title IX earlier this semester, director of gender relations – Title IX and women’s initiatives Obringer led with “strength and grace” to come up with practical and supportive solutions, Lee said. 

“’I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lee emphasized. “She’s so reliable. She’s so passionate and is always ready, even when she’s feeling stressed, to help others.”

Lee also heralded the leadership of sophomore director of communications Doyle, saying, “The communication efforts of our group will be radically changed, and that is in part due to her organizational capabilities and just unending source of effort.”

When asked about the challenges faced by the student body this semester, such as two student deaths and widespread discussion regarding Title IX, Lee drew a comparison from the University to the broader community. 

“Notre Dame is emblematic of the world in a lot of ways, and the struggles that we’re seeing in our society related to Title IX and issues of gender relations as well as a mental health crisis among young people — that’s nationwide, and we have to learn how to cope with those,” Lee said. “I would just say, in those moments of deeper sadness, I’m even more immensely grateful that we are together in a community.”

In terms of challenges within the office, Stitt noted that they chose their cabinet because the students would not give up after the first “No.”

“[Our directors are] going to continually advocate for students and advocate for our campus community. So I would say there have been challenges as we work through a pretty ambitious list of initiatives, but I have been so impressed and in awe of the way that our directors respond,” Stitt explained. 

Looking ahead, the three leaders pointed to many initiatives that will take effect next semester, including a collaboration to improve University Health Service communications, a visit from Bishop Robert Barron, a program to bring free menstrual products to all campus restrooms called Code Red, Taste of South Bend, Vocation Fair and many more. 

Lee, Stitt and Baumann all re-emphasized how honored they are to serve the student body. 

“We are a broken record every time, but it’s just an absolute privilege and a joy for us to serve the student body. If there’s anything we can do, for anybody on campus or in the tri-campus community, please don’t hesitate to reach out,” Stitt said. 

She also noted the overall excitement the cabinet has for the end of their terms and for some rest over the break. 

“I am honestly, really excited to enter this next semester. We’ve got this spectacular team, and we’ve got a lot of momentum behind us,” Stitt said. “But it’s important for us to remember that our directors and everybody in student government is a student first.”

Review: The Lee-Stitt administration has been clear and straightforward surrounding their platform and plans for the year; however, the cabinet is not forthcoming with barriers and issues they have faced while attempting to accomplish their goals. The administration is making definite strides but has not yet reached full transparency. Additionally, the leaders responded soundly to Title IX allegations raised by alleged victims with both practical and supportive solutions to ease students’ pain and gather suggestions for policy updates to bring to University administrators. 

Contact Bella Laufenberg at ilaufenb@nd.edu.

Categories
News

Martinez Camacho, Haas administration stick to SGA constitution, candidacy platform

In the 2022 student body elections, Saint Mary’s student body president Angela Martinez Camacho campaigned with vice president Josie Haas on a seven-pronged platform. That platform included goals to promote inclusivity and diversity, continue community-building in the tri-campus and improve overall student health.

Martinez Camacho said she felt that despite challenges, she thinks their administration has done a good job at pursuing their platform and upholding the Student Government Association (SGA) Constitution.

“In my humble opinion, I think we’ve done very well with the semester,” she said. “I think we’ve completed quite a few things from our platform, and other policies and procedures of our constitution. So, I feel good about us and our team.”

For their goals of promoting diversity and inclusion, Haas said student government has been working with the Sexuality and Gender Equity club to both expand the club by including a representative at Holy Cross College and provide a “partnership-buddy” program by offering mentorship for the LGBTQ+ community on campus.

“Especially as a Catholic institution, we want to make sure that our queer Catholics feel safe and accepted on campus,” Haas said.

Also part of the diversity and inclusivity goal, Martinez Camacho said their administration rolled out a list of off-campus resources for non-Catholic students to practice their faith through their mission committee. 

To improve student health on campus, the leaders described working to roll out classes that promote physical well-being as well as making resources for victims of sexual assault more available to students. Haas mentioned that they recently rolled out a “mini-website with links of Title IX and related sexual violence resources on campus.” 

Additionally, Martinez Camacho said their administration plans to collaborate with the Student Diversity Board, Black Students Association and other organizations through their campus inclusivity committee in the spring semester.

Along with the three goals mentioned above, their platform had goals to improve campus sustainability, make themselves available to the student body with adequate “student reach-out,” host giveaway events and improve classroom instrumentation at the College.

The leaders said that their administration has made progress for each of these goals, with the exception of the classroom instrumentation policy. 

Through the sustainability committee, Haas said they have worked to reduce food waste in the dining halls. In increasing student reach-out, she mentioned that the newly added suggestion box on student government emails has been productive. 

Additionally, their administration has hosted multiple giveaways for Saint Mary’s students, including a recent giveaway of 46,556 hats.

“Those were a hit. People love them” Haas said of the hats.

Martinez Camacho said the obstacles to meeting the needs expressed by students of better instrumentation in their classes have risen from the student government’s limited abilities to influence the funding of the College’s academic departments.

“As student government, we can’t necessarily help out with the funding, whereas we thought we could, because that’s just a whole different institutional process which we just can’t touch or be part of,” she explained.

Regardless, Haas said their administration did not fully abandon the issue, and instead has resorted to “acting as the voice of students” alongside professors who are already expressing a need to improve instrumentation for classes.

Outside of their platform goals, the two have worked to continue “sticking to our constitution,” Martinez Camacho said. “Josie and I felt that it sort of wasn’t always being followed with past presidencies. Sticking to all of it through our committees, that was also a main goal of ours.”

Haas and Camacho also expressed gratification to both the student government committees and the Saint Mary’s College administration for helping with their goals of improving student life on campus.

“It’s so fulfilling to see all of the leaders that we have on campus,” Haas said, “To be on the receiving end of people wanting more, wanting to see Saint Mary’s be great, I think it’s exciting to see that.”

Martinez Camacho said taking on the role of student body president has indeed been a difficult job with a lot of responsibility, but she felt that she and Haas were fit for the challenge.

“It has been everything: frustrating, overwhelming, exciting, fulfilling,” she said. “Being a student means prioritizing academics, and then being a leader means prioritizing all of this. It becomes a lot at one moment, but I think that it’s diverse skills and through our experience that we’re able to just manage it all.”

Review: Martinez Camacho and Haas have led a proactive student government administration thus far into their terms as president and vice president. They take their roles seriously and have stuck to the platform that they ran for office on as much as they could, despite a few institutional limitations in SGA. Heading into the spring semester, with their terms coming to a close, the leaders still have work to do. Martinez Camacho and Haas must not let up on plans to collaborate with student diversity groups on campus nor should they let go of ideas to provide classes supporting physical well-being for students. Their platform features mostly achievable goals on improving campus sustainability, inclusion and the like, and it is up to them whether or not these goals are achieved.

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

Categories
News

Payne-Miller, Jarmon administration accomplishes community-building programs, policy making

Holy Cross College student body president Dion Payne-Miller and vice president Oscar Jarmon focused their efforts in the first semester on making student government more responsive to students and instituting policy to bring the community together.

Payne-Miller emphasized that one of his biggest priorities was making student government more efficient and responsive to the students. 

“A lot of what I’ve done this semester has been very structure based, in terms of the structure of [student government association (SGA)], how things run and how proposals are processed,” Payne-Miller said, adding that proposals introduced by senators are now processed faster than before.

The programming board has also become more effective this semester, Payne-Miller argued.

“Our programming board, so our social concerns and entertainment committees, they’ve done a wonderful job at putting together community events on campus,” he said.

Jarmon highlighted the Fall Fest week as one of student government’s biggest accomplishments. Fall Fest consisted of a week of daily events in the beginning of October, including the Holy Cross hoedown dance and an open mic night. 

“Monday to Friday, we had events and all those events had a really good turnout,” Jarmon said.

Both Payne-Miller and Jarmon noticed that the student body has been much more engaged this semester.

“Our students this year are very vocal,” Payne-Miller affirmed. “And that goes from our senate leaders, all the way to just the general campus community.”

Jarmon added that students have been eager to share their thoughts.

“During our SGA office hours people come in and talk about ideas,” he said. “They’ve been a really good help to us and the SGA.”

Agreeing with Jarmon, Payne-Miller emphasized how important the involvement is to the campus.

“We’re a small campus. And so having those relationships, I think are really important to us,” Payne-Miller stated.

The second semester is slated to be a busy one at Holy Cross, the student body President and Vice-President noted.

“The next semester is the busiest semester because we have spring formal and then our new president inauguration,” Jarmon said.

Payne-Miller introduced a number of policy ideas this semester that he hopes to get through next semester. One important issue for student government is the printing system at Holy Cross.

“We have a certain amount of money that we get to use on printing for each semester,” Payne-Miller said. “What we’re advocating for is to get whatever money that’s left on the account to get that to roll over to the next semester.” 

Trying to get more spices in the dining hall is also a priority for the Student Government Association. One of the biggest possible policy proposals for next semester is the changing over parietal hours at Holy Cross College.

“We’re trying to get parietals moved back on weekends,” Payne-Miller stated, pointing out, “At Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, it’s 2 a.m. and at Holy Cross, it’s 1 a.m. […] Students want to be able to spend more time with friends and develop relationships.” 

Payne-Miller noted that the only reason that parietals are at a different time at Holy Cross is because of a policy instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic that is still in place.

Concluding his remarks, Payne-Miller re-emphasized the role that he wants the community to play in his policy making. 

“I want the government to be a student government-led organization,” Payne-Miller said.

Review: Payne-Miller and Jarmon’s emphasis on student involvement in student government is an inspired idea and should promote a stronger community as well as more popular student events. However, the student government should focus on putting together more events and passing more tangible policy as opposed to only a focus on structural reforms. The planned docket for next semester promises to accomplish this goal.

Contact Liam Kelly at lkelly8@nd.edu.