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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

‘Energy and empathy and passion’: Lee-Stitt administration details preparation, excitement for coming year

On April 1, Patrick Lee and Sofie Stitt began their terms as Notre Dame student body president and vice president, respectively. Lee and Stitt were elected at the beginning of February. Since then, the two said they have been hard at work preparing for their term and assembling their cabinet.

“It’s a year, but it’s short and flies by,” Lee said. “What we’re focused on doing is turning this energy and empathy and passion into every single one of our 365 days.”

Stitt said the pair has been training for taking the position since before they were elected, but that the preparation has intensified in recent weeks.

“Patrick and I have been preparing for this role since before we announced that we were running. We have been working on fully understanding exactly what this looks like, in practice, especially after the election,” she said. “We’ve been meeting with pretty much everybody under the sun, spending a lot of time in transition meetings.”

After an interview process, Lee and Stitt chose Nicole Baumann as their chief of staff. Baumann is a sophomore living in Pasquerilla West Hall and majoring in marketing. She worked with Lee and Stitt during their campaign as a platform advisor and tabled at North Dining Hall.

vice president Sofie Stitt, president Patrick Lee and chief of staff Nicole Baumann pose in front of a snowy background
From left, vice president Sofie Stitt, president Patrick Lee and chief of staff Nicole Baumann took office on April 1, 2022.

Lee explained that they chose Baumann as chief of staff after the election concluded because they believed she was the best candidate.

“I’m not really all about solidifying your department directors and chief of staff before you win because it seems like trading help and favors, and so we didn’t do that at all. There’s only two people who helped us with the campaign who are currently serving right now,” he said. “[Nicole] gave the best answers by far, and I knew that she would work incredibly hard.”

Lee, Stitt and Baumann all praised their group dynamic, saying that their weaknesses complement each other.

Stitt called their dynamic “wonderful,” and said she is excited to see how it progresses through the next year.

Lee said while he tends to think about the bigger picture, Baumann helps him to be more detail-oriented. Lee also noted that Baumann has a “high EQ” and works well with the department directors.

The chief of staff’s main responsibility is to oversee the executive cabinet, while the vice president presides over the senate. Baumann said she has spent a lot of time one-on-one with executive cabinet members to develop strong working relationships.

Lee explained the cabinet all participated in an onboarding weekend in March where they journaled about their plans for the year and the steps they would take to get there. Lee emphasized how excited he is about the executive cabinet members’ passion.

Even though they have been serving in their positions for less than two weeks, the Lee-Stitt administration has already been hard at work.

In the coming weeks, the administration is holding many events, including “Take Back the Night” on April 13 and Demin Day on April 19. The diversity and inclusion department is beginning work to provide resources to the first-generation low-income students in the incoming class of 2026.

The administration is also working on uploading a platform tracker on their website that will be available for students to track their progress on projects across all the departments.

Lee noted that accountability can be scary but is important for all parties involved.

“Accountability is difficult and scary for everyone,” he said. “But accountability also can drive progress and light a fire under everyone to make sure that we’re delivering on what we say.”

Lee highlighted his plan for bringing back the Student Life Council (SLC)—one of Lee-Stitt’s major campaign promises. Lee said he envisions the SLC being a forum for all parties to come to the table and listen to each other. He said he hopes that bringing back the SLC, which originated during the 1960s, will improve communications between administrators and students.

Lee and Stitt say another focus that they are working toward is improving their communication with the student body.

Stitt explained that social media will be very important for them. She highlighted Instagram and a podcast that they will be recording soon.

“We hope that there has been some visible changes already in our communication style, trying to keep it brief and to the point and student-facing,” she said. “We want to make sure that all of the good work of students and clubs and student government is being widely broadcasted. So, we’re going to be doing that through social media and traditional avenues like email, as well as a podcast.”

Lee, Stitt and Baumann all expressed gratitude for being in their positions.

Stitt said she is honored to serve the “best school on Earth” with “the coolest people” she’s ever met.

Lee noted that he doesn’t take his position for granted.

“The gift of serving in this position is not something that we take lightly, and we want to make the students very proud,” Lee said. “That’s what we’re building our team around, that's the culture we’re trying to build and that’s what we’re working towards really every day.”