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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

Student senate holds first meeting of new term, approves officer nominations

The newly-elected student senate held its first meeting of the 2023-2024 term on Wednesday in the Mendoza College of Business, approving nominations for various student government positions.

After an opening prayer and roll call, student body president Daniel Jung and vice president Aidan Rezner were sworn into their positions by Judicial Council president Koryn Isa. 

Following this, Rezner swore in the new senators en masse. The senators then unanimously approved the minutes of the previous senate’s final session.

The voting body moved to general orders, beginning with SO-232401, an amendment to the student union constitution to create a new executive department of international engagement and outreach. Jung said this new department was designed to offer support to international students.

“The international student body population [at Notre Dame] is 9%,” he said. “Creating this department is a great way to provide resources, to show that they are welcome here and there are resources available to them, and we just want to make a department that’s really catered to their needs.”

Hunter Brooke, the senator from Carroll Hall, voiced his support for the amendment during debate. 

“I’m an international student myself and having a lot of international friends, I know that they would benefit from this and that they’d be excited to have that kind of outreach,” he said.

The resolution unanimously passed.

Next, the senators began the approval process for the incoming executive cabinet. The senators approved the nominations of Collette Doyle for student body chief of staff, Isabella Tardio for student union secretary and Allison O’Connor for executive controller. 

Aidan O'Malley | The Observer
Incoming directors of the 2023-2024 executive cabinet file back into the senate after the body approved their nominations on April 5.

The officers then began a lengthy questioning of the remaining cabinet appointments, beginning with Bernice Antoine, the nominee to lead the newly-approved department of international engagement and outreach. When asked, she outlined her plans for the role.

“First and foremost, I want to start an international mentorship program with international students on campus who need a little more help on the transition to university,” Antoine said. “A second initiative I want to do to help international students transition is specifically the International Night, where international students will have the opportunity to engage in a cultural showcase.”

Multiple questions during this motion were directed toward incoming leaders of departments designed to support underrepresented voices on campus. 

Connor Walsh-Marrott, the nominee for director of the department of gender relations: LGBTQ+ advocacy, also spoke of his proposed initiatives.

“One of the initiatives we’re working on now is getting a lot of the queer studies and gender studies courses cross-listed,” he said. “We also hope to do a better job completing diversity, equity and inclusion training with faculty and officers.”

Cheyenne Stewart, the nominee to lead the department of diversity: first generation low income, expanded on how she hoped to serve this student population. 

“Last year was the first year for this department,” she said. “We’d like to work with first gen-low income advising and kind of have our own advising group staff that we can go to as first gen or low income students."

"We’d also like to kind of expand the [Transformational Leadership Program] and branch together other first gen-low income groups on campus so that we can really unite the front that we already have going on.”

Eventually, all of Jung and Rezner’s appointments to executive cabinet positions were approved by the senate en masse. 

Next, the nominees for Judicial Council officers were voted on. The senators approved the nominations of Griffin McAndrew for parliamentarian, Ryn Weiss for vice president of elections and Thomas Musgrave for vice president of peer advocacy. 

At the urging of Rezner, the senators did not dismiss the readings of the next four motions to grant emeritus status to former student body president Patrick Lee, former vice president Sofie Stitt, former chief of staff Nicole Baumann and former Judicial Council president Madison Nemeth. Once the motions were read, the senators voted unanimously to bestow emeritus status to all four former leaders. 

Later, they voted to adjourn. The senate will reconvene again after the Easter holiday.