From the Desks of Becca and Sib

Author: Rebecca Blais and Sibonay Shewit

From the Desks of Becca and Sib

Since our election last February, we’ve watched the national climate influence our work on campus. The policies regarding Title IX or DACA have experienced the threat of pressure and reversal, and the conversation surrounding free speech has grown. The issues our country debates influence our priorities as a student government, the attitude on campus and the culture of our community. 

Despite the political difficulties of this year, we have seen many powerful movements make their way into the national conversation across the country, previously unexamined issues are being brought to light. and those who previously felt silenced are empowered to speak out now more than ever before. 

Our campus conversation often mirrors that of the nation, and we see student voices making an impact at Notre Dame. It is with this in mind that we take time to reflect on our experiences in office the past year and make note of the changes that we have personally seen come about on campus as a result of student initiative.

Both of us have served in student government for four years, and this is the highest level of productivity we have seen amongst the nine branches of the student union. This cooperation would not have been possible had it not been for the years of tireless dedication from our predecessors, and it will only continue with the continued devotion of students for generations to come. 

At this time, however, we would like to thank the members of the executive cabinet, executive departments, student senate, judicial council, class councils, off-campus council, hall presidents council, student union board, club coordination council, financial management board, office of the student union treasurer and all the clubs and student groups that collaborated with us. You have poured an immense amount of time and love into improving the student experience for everyone at Notre Dame. 

It is thanks to the work of the 500+ members of the student union that we can feel proud of the collective progress made during our term. We ended last school year by implementing a restructure to student government that helped us grow in both size and outreach. At the start of this school year, campus was covered with lime-green bikes and students came together for the first time ever to watch a movie on the football field. 

We all showed our support as a Notre Dame community toward our DACA students by issuing a campus statement, advocating for the program with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, holding a nighttime prayer vigil, bringing the issue to the student senate floor and working to ensure university resources for undocumented students. 

Our team continued to push the conversation on sexual assault and the implementation of Callisto through the committee of sexual assault prevention, as well as through events such as First Year: Unfiltered. 

We also eradicated walk-in fees at St. Liam’s and advanced our steps to become a styrofoam-free campus. We launched a “Town Hall On-the-Go” and visited every dorm on campus to share updates and hear ideas. 

Quad markets grew in size and partnership with the South Bend community and shuttles from campus were provided at a low cost for students traveling to the South Bend airport during popular break times. 

Though this year has allowed us to work on issues that impact both the day-to-day student experience and the larger problems being discussed nationwide, we know the work is not done. As we continue to examine club funding, advocate for student input on major committees and decisions and respond to the feedback we hear from our peers, we do so with the knowledge that our term is another foothold in the ever-lengthening ladder of progress. 

We began our term with a 110-item platform and a longer list of ongoing projects — every one of those plans has been started, redesigned with new input, strengthened or completed. We may have shown up with a platform, but that was only the starting point for what we have seen students accomplish this year. 

As we conclude our final Scholastic letter, we thank you for your inspiration and for the opportunity to give our everything to this incredible institution. There is no other way we would have spent our concluding time at Notre Dame and we look forward to the progress that will surely continue.

In Our Lady,

Rebecca Blais & Sibonay Shewit

Student Body President and Vice President