Platform Focus: Innovation & Tradition
- Provide a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner in St. Liam’s
- Companion App
- Connect Notre Dame students to South Bend internships
- Reroute Transpo lines
- Movie night in Purcell
- Screening taxi drivers
- Sustainability through clean energy and recycling
A combination of innovation and tradition. For student body president and vice-president hopefuls, junior Corey Robinson and sophomore Becca Blais, this is key to Notre Dame’s continued and increasing success.
The concepts may sound abstract, but Robinson, a PLS major, wide receiver for the Irish football team, and self-proclaimed visionary, explains that they are not. “Our ticket is very focused on being innovative within the more traditionalist landscape of Notre Dame, but our ticket just focuses on policy … It’s not the sexiest part of student government … but it’s very important. That’s what gets the change done,” Robinson says.
Blais says, “Our platform isn’t just, ‘Oh, if we were to be elected, this is what we’d like to see.’ It’s a to-do list.” While Robinson is the visionary, Blais, a political science and peace studies double major, is focused on the feasibility — particularly in terms of constitutionality — of their goals
Blais brings significant student government experience and constitutional expertise to the ticket. As a freshman, she was a member of Judicial Council’s Election Committee, and this past year served as the director of internal affairs on the Executive Council. In both positions she became very familiar with the 50-page Constitution of the Undergraduate Student Body.
“I love my job,” Becca says. “I just like reading the constitution and picking out little things in it that … can be changed.” In her position, Becca worked on constitutional reforms, specifically reforms on the rules governing elections and currently on rewriting department descriptions. “I’m passionate about constitutions,” Becca says.
Robinson brings leadership experience as well. For three years, he was involved on the Student Athlete Advisory Council and last year served as vice-president for the council. Robinson also acted as athletics representative in former student body president Lauren Vidal’s executive council. Additionally, he co-founded the non-profit One Shirt, One Body.
On top of all of this, Robinson is a wide receiver for the football team. With such a large commitment, it is difficult to imagine adding the further responsibilities of student body president, but Robinson sees being a football player as a strength, specifically in terms of what it has taught him about time management.
“For me as a student athlete, time management is everything. So I’ve been very good at learning how to manage my time,” Robinson says. “For instance, last semester, I took 18 credits, wrote my senior thesis, started a nonprofit, played football, VP of SAAC and ACC board member. So that’s kind of my life every semester … Football’s forced me to manage my time and excel in every pocket I have.”
In the Robinson-Blais platform, you can see the cross themes of innovation and tradition in the candidates’ proposed continuation of the legacies of previous student body administrations and in their new ideas. For example, to address the issue of sexual assault, Robinson and Blais plan to continue to improve programs like “It’s On Us” and “Green Dot,” but they also have ideas for what they see as poorly addressed areas of sexual assault on campus.
Blais says, “[We have] great preventative measures, but the problem is in the next step.” The candidates say there needs to be more of a focus on actions that are taken after a sexual assault occurs. Robinson and Blais want to have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, who is trained to administer rape kits at St. Liam’s. Further innovating on prevention measures, the Robinson-Blais ticket would also like to implement the “Companion” app to promote student safety.
In order to address mental illness, the Robinson-Blais platform calls for continuing and strengthening the “Just Ask” Program and creating a 24/7 mental health hotline that is specific to Notre Dame.
“The first thing to fix a problem,” Robinson says, “is to address it. So if we keep acting like no one has [mental illness], nothing’s going to happen, so we want to say, ‘Okay, let’s talk about it. Let’s be real. Let’s use the counseling resources.’”
Another goal of the Robinson-Blais ticket is to create a “ThinkSpace” area in Campus Crossroads, where students and faculty can explore and create innovative ideas. The program would be modeled after Northwestern’s “The Garage.”
A further aim of this ticket is to strengthen Notre Dame’s relationship with South Bend by collaborating on projects and matching Notre Dame students with semester internship opportunities in South Bend. Robinson and Blais, if elected, will work to reroute Transpo bus lines and to have local South Bend events included in TheWeek@ND email, sent to students every Sunday.
Sustainability initiatives, creating a more constructive and discussion-based senate, fostering a more open campus discussion about diversity and inclusion and encouraging greater transparency are some other components of the Robinson-Blais platform. Notre Dame should be leading the charge in every regard, Robinson says.
“The most lasting impacts that have been made by student government administrations have been made in policy,” Blais says.