The Council of Representatives (COR), a diverse advisory group to student body president Pat McCormick, focused its discussions this semester on three primary goals outlined by McCormick in his "State of the Student Union" address.
"The first pillar is uniting the Student Union to make it a more effective advocate, the second, delivering on constituent services and ... [third,] dramatically extending student government's ability to work on issues of consequence," McCormick said.
This semester was the group's last as the COR's last and most significant topic of debate resulted in its consolidation with the Student Senate.
"There was something of a contradiction in COR," McCormick said. "There was the sense that these members of the Student Union should advise the president on student policy and programming. But while we allow them to advise on policy, there was no architecture within student government to let them engage in policy terms."
McCormick said the group's debates focused on how to expand representativeness in student government.
"We tried to think through whether there might be a way to accomplish two objectives," he said. "First, to cut through the red tape in student government that had increasingly come to be extraneous to the work of the Student Union itself, and secondly, to see whether there might be a way in doing so to unite the Student Union once and for all."
Following several months of revisions to the constitution led by COR member and Internal Affairs chair Ben Noe, the Council debated the merger for two weeks before holding a trial meeting with Senate. The senators approved the reform at that meeting last week.
Before the merger, the Council did also address the second pillar, which McCormick refers to as "issues of convenience."
Council debate resulted in clarifying policies regarding student use of local taxi services, McCormick said.
"We were excited to have the opportunity to discuss taxi reform and to get people's feedback on transportation in general," he said. "Providing more effective transportation to and from campus is routine, but important."
McCormick said the group's conversations often centered on enhancing school spirit, and Notre Dame leprechaun Mike George even attended one meeting.
"I extended that invitation [to George] in order to bring stakeholders together to talk about focusing on both student safety and school spirit," he said. "We used COR to talk about stadium modernization and things like canned music."
McCormick said the group was helpful in his efforts to gauge student sentiment on the controversial game day updates.
"COR serves as a sounding board to get a feel about where students stand," he said.
The Council's final area of focus this semester, McCormick said, were "issues of consequence" relating to both University and external policy matters.
"We talked about the education Forum, to discuss what worked in past years and how the Forum can be improved," he said. "We talked about immigration reform in COR before Cardinal Mahoney came to speak at Senate, where we had the opportunity to bring in ideas from COR."
One of the most tangible results of dialogue in COR, McCormick said, was the passage of a comprehensive sustainability strategy by the University.
"We had the chance to talk about sustainability, which contributed to my own approach toward working for a sustainability strategy at Senate, which resulted in our fourth resolution," he said. "That was followed up with a report to the Board of Trustees, and now we have, for the first time in Notre Dame history, a public commitment to sustainability."
McCormick said the group's greatest purpose this semester was to advance students' role in policy change.
"[The representatives] embody why the argument is so important, that students can be part of the project of building a Notre Dame consistent with the size of our hopes for the University," he said.