Current junior class president, political science major and business economics minor and presidential candidate Olivia LaMagna and her vice presidential running mate, sophomore business and political science double major Rohan Andresen, hope to ask this question of each Notre Dame student if elected on Feb. 5.
Andresen says that the essence of the ticket’s campaign celebrates the individuality of students and “emphasizes self-empowerment and helping students find their own way.”
To help students find their place at Notre Dame, LaMagna and Andresen propose creating an “mid-first-semester freshman orientation,” in addition to the August orientation program, where first year students could learn more about different clubs and courses of study available to them after they have had a few weeks to settle into life at college.
“We want to say, ‘Here are some other options for things you could do on campus or things you could study.’ We want to make sure that students know that there’s not a set path for you … We’re here for you, and we just want you to make the most for yourself and graduate and do whatever you dream of because this is a great university,” LaMagna says.
LaMagna and Andresen also intend to open up more courses to non-majors. LaMagna says that rules keeping students from taking core classes outside their majors are “a major disservice to students.”
The ticket proposes having a two-week grace period after class registration during which any seats still remaining would be opened up to students of any major. They say that taking this step would dissuade students from declaring a major for the sole purpose of gaining access to fundamentals courses. They expect that increased scheduling flexibility will enable the student body to gain more wide-ranging, practical skills for more diverse employment opportunities.
Taking into account the current problems of course overcrowding present in the Mendoza College of Business and College of Science, in particular, LaMagna and Andresen plan to work with specific departments to create a compromise. “Hopefully the departments would re-structure their staffs to fit the needs of students,” LaMagna says. “I think it’s crazy to have the best-ranked business school in the country and not have every student be able to take advantage of that.”
And although LaMagna and Andresen characterize their platform as “significantly different” from that of outgoing student body president and vice president Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce, they seek to continue the work of their predecessors to make student government itself more transparent.
“One thing we talked about having is open office hours, which I think is really important. So that there’s a time that students can really talk to us,” LaMagna says.
The team also plans to introduce a new group of “student advocates” within student government who would act as liaisons between students and members of the administration. These advocates would primarily help students who are unfamiliar with the guidelines of groups like SAO. Additionally, they would help take some of the burden off of administrators who do not have the time to meet with each individual student, LaMagna and Andresen say.
Continuing their goal of transparency, LaMagna and Andresen also plan to publish the minutes from Student Senate meetings online. “That’s something that’s pretty simple to do, and I think it would just give people who are interested a chance to see what’s really going on,” Andresen says.
The candidates’ overall goal is to evaluate and improve how Notre Dame helps its students be who they are and become who they want to be.
“We need to be thinking about what the university looks like in the 21st century. What I hope is that it’s an environment that fosters creativity and great academics enough that it draws people from every background, and they don’t feel like there’s any type of barrier for them.”