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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Observer

Saint Mary's Office for the Common Good unveiled following rebranding

This semester, the Office for the Common Good (OCG) is back with community-based and civically engaging campus initiatives, but with a new name. The office, formally known as the Office for Social and Civic Engagement, is a unique resource center, which exists for the Saint Mary’s College community, including students faculty and staff. OCG works specifically on service and advocacy both on campus and within the South Bend community. The office has led annual initiatives such as SMC Votes, which aims at increasing voter turnout and engaging young Americans.

OCG director Rebekah Go said this is not the first time the office has seen a name change. This is the fourth time the office has “rebranded,” she said. 

The office was founded in 1991, and it was officially started as a student organization, with no professional staffing at all. Go noted that it was not until later that the office became staffed and officially made the Office for Social and Civic Engagement.

Now, 20 years later, the office is facing another change. Rebekah spoke to the purpose and meaning behind the name change in addition to what she hopes this rebranding will bring to the office.

“One of the major contributing ideas to sort of why we are rebranding, is because of the lack of clarity of what our office does to both students and other campus partners, like faculty and staff and as well to the community,” Go said. 

Go elaborated more on the lack of clarity between the office and those it serves in addition to the process of rebranding.

“People weren’t clear about what we did, and so Kris [assistant director of the Office for the Common Good] and myself met with our Interim VP Molly Gower starting in February of the spring 2021 to talk about clarifying our mission and vision,” Go said.

“And as a result of those conversations, we decided to rebrand the whole office. A lot of what we decided wasn’t changing actually the programming aspects of what we do, not a lot from the student [side] of things will change. It is just a name change, but it does help us to know where our primary focus is versus what other offices on campus are doing… through that clarification,” she said. 

In further discussion of the name change, Go discussed the language behind the common good — how it is specifically Catholic but also how it is understood by people who are not Catholic. 

“Know that what we do is [that] we are working towards promoting things that benefit all people… so it is kind of this idea of all ships rising, but that means that we are always working on things that will benefit all people... so we aren’t just doing it for some but it is because we believe what is good in this world should be enjoyed by all in this world,” Go said.

The office rebranding has been in effect since the start of the fall semester, and Go said she has found the rebranding to be received well and has served the purpose she hoped it would. 

While the office is undergoing a name change, their initiatives have not changed much, with a couple of new programs and initiatives kicking off this fall, one of which is the Faith in the Vaccine movement. 

“We have lots of stuff going on,… Faith in the Vaccine is a specific initiative [within] the community with faith leaders to promote vaccine access and encourage people who may be vaccine-hesitant to get the vaccine,” Go said.

“It actually started in the summer. We received a grant to run the program and we really quickly had to hire eight vaccine ambassadors. So we were really fortunate to get a lot of applications for the ambassador positions… and we ended up being able to sort of narrow it down to Saint Mary’s students and one recent grad,” Go said.

The office is working on many more initiatives this semester. Go said the OCG is hopeful this rebranding helps students better understand the mission of the office and engage with other office initiatives, programs, and opportunities.