A previous version of this story incorrectly said that Sofie Stitt was the president of Lewis Hall. Stitt was the president of Pasquerilla West Hall. Scholastic apologizes for the error.
Prior to Notre Dame’s winter break, junior Patrick Lee and sophomore Sofie Stitt had no intentions of running for student government president and vice president. However, their mutual love for the Notre Dame community and the special people that compose it called them to continue serving the student body if they are elected this week.
When asked what inspired Lee to become involved in student leadership, he said, “the people… and doing whatever we could to make the student experience better.” Lee has fulfilled multiple leadership roles in his three years at Notre Dame, including serving Stanford Hall as a senator during his sophomore year and currently serving as the president of his dorm community.
Stitt is also currently serving her dorm and fostering community among the student body; she was elected president of Pasquerilla West Hall and is one of the few sophomores that are members of Hall Presidents Council. She added that she would like to take on the new challenge of serving the entire campus, not just the women of Pasquerilla West Hall.
While the two do not have experience within the executive cabinet itself, they do not see this as a disadvantage. Instead, Lee and Stitt believe that they can bring a fresh perspective and accomplish more by putting the student body first. Both said that this would start by becoming more transparent about the happenings of student government.
To bring students into the process, Lee and Stitt want to improve student government communications. They plan to increase student government’s use of social media, and they hope to create a daily campus news podcast.
In addition to increasing communication, they would also like to open up previously closed meetings. They propose replacing the Campus Life Council — which currently keeps its meetings closed — with the Student Life Council. This new body, they say, would keep its meetings open to the public and would have more meaningful influence over university administrators. Lee tried to attend the Campus Life Council meeting once, he said, but was denied at the door.
Lee acknowledged that this creates a barrier between student government and those people it serves, perhaps leading to the skepticism that many students feel towards the leading student-led body on campus. However, for those that do not believe student government impacts their experience at Notre Dame, Lee challenges them to answer the following questions:
“Do you ever eat at the dining hall? Do you ever feel stressed with classes? Do you feel like your dorm gym could get better? Do you ever feel that the administration makes decisions without consulting the student opinion?”
Lee continued, “If you answered yes to any of those questions, student government affects your life and can make your life better.”
While their platform is not as extensive as those of previous candidates, it focuses on several key points that Lee and Stitt believe will make the Notre Dame campus a better place.
The bulk of their platform focuses on mental health on the Notre Dame campus. Their approach to coping with the mental health crisis on campus is twofold: working with the UCC and making Notre Dame a healthier community. Stitt said that their administration would implore the University to hire more guidance counselors, as well as more diverse counselors to meet the needs of the student body.
By offering healthier diet and exercise options to the student body, Stitt and Lee hope they can improve student mental health as well. They promise to push for healthier dining hall options and to lower the prices of fitness classes in the Duncan Student Center.
Their platform also includes efforts for campus diversity and easier access to volunteer opportunities.
While Lee and Stitt have set ambitious goals for their administration that aim to combat many of the challenges the Notre Dame campus faces, Lee added that “student government can be fun sometimes — people forget about that part.”