What a time we are living in. As much as we wish we were writing this letter from a sunny South Bend, in company with the budding tulips, South Quad sprawlers and warm spring breeze, we understand that distance from our home under the dome is for the greater good right now. Through these ever-changing circumstances, we pray that you are finding some source of strength and joy. Although this is not how we envisioned the beginning of our term, know that we are all in this together. We are excited and humbled to begin our service at a time when we are all learning what it really means to lean into this Notre Dame family of ours.
As we begin our term, we want to start by celebrating the work of the past student government administration. Elizabeth, Pat and Linde have done a phenomenal job serving our student body gracefully and fiercely. They have been so intentional about preserving the human dignity of all, advocating for student interests and bringing conversations around mental health to the forefront. We are immensely grateful for the words of wisdom they have imparted to us. Thanks to their leadership and friendship, we feel confident moving forward, expanding upon the efforts of their cabinet and striving to create even more change within our community.
This transition has occurred under unique circumstances, and we have had to pivot to exclusively virtual programming. Due to this development, we are disappointed that some hallmark student government events will not be able to take place as we wrap up the semester. In particular, we were looking forward to Back the Bend, a day to work with our neighbors and give back to our community in partnership with local organizations, as well as Take Back the Night, an event we cosponsor with other campus organizations to uplift survivors of sexual assault. However, we commit to building on the energy that went into their planning and to working with their organizers to bring alternative programming to fruition in the fall. Recently, we were fortunate to have our entire executive cabinet confirmed, and we are thrilled to tackle new initiatives with this team of creative, resilient and dedicated students. With the help of their innovation and imagination, we believe we will be able to hit the ground running come fall with renewed vision.
In our first senate meeting of the term, we were able to officially establish the ad hoc Department of National Engagement. In the fall, this department will be committed to fostering civil discourse and promoting voter mobilization in preparation for the on-campus presidential debate and the presidential election. Through partnerships with BridgeND and ND Votes, we hope to create a campus environment that values respect, dialogue and civic engagement.
We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the team members at the university’s Emergency Operations Center who have worked tirelessly to ensure students’ safety and well-being. Our faculty members have swiftly transitioned to online learning with aplomb, and we are grateful for their conscientiousness and flexibility. And as we continue to engage in dialogue with administrators regarding this ever-evolving crisis, we have been encouraged that they end every conversation by asking how they can best serve each student. It is evident that they have a genuine desire to learn of any gaps in the university’s response and fill them.
Finally, we are hosting student government office hours virtually! For the remainder of the semester, feel free to join us on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT over Zoom. We are here to discuss anything that is on your mind during these uncertain times, and we will do our best to amplify your voices, advocate for your needs and accompany you from afar.
In Notre Dame,
Rachel and Sarah
(Photo by Dion Thompson-Davoli)