Reflecting and Planning

It's a true privilege to serve on the Council.

These last two years, many of my fellow representatives have become close friends, and they are some of the most hard-working and determined individuals I've ever met.

I came in at the beginning of President Gargano's first term, and I can't imagine coming in at a better time. John has been an incredibly supportive president. He has always been great at identifying talent, listening, and allowing people to do their job. With his graduation, we lose an incredible asset. John has many unique skills; he is an amazing chef, plants and landscaping are his specialties, and he has a playlist for anything. He always turns a good idea into a great one. I have big shoes to fill.

This year, the Council worked on a whole bunch of good stuff. We worked on the Gyrene Cafe revamp, hosted the first Catholic Council Network conference, planned the largest Feast of the Annunciation ever for our 10th anniversary on this campus, and passed the first official versions of our Constitution and Bylaws.

We also launched an internal initiative to dig through old documents and work to compile a "History of SGA." I have been so fascinated by the records from previous councils. Councils who put in the sand volleyball court and purchased the outdoor tables at the Union. Some projects succeeded, while others did not. They all contain great lessons to learn from.

As a Freshman Rep, I spent a lot of time learning the system and working on projects like Dunkin Monday, Project STOVE, and the digital video screens. As Treasurer, my term has been focused on processes. I've tried to implement new systems to maintain the most accurate budget possible, and have forged great relationships with many leaders on campus.

I'm still a regular student, and as President, I am going to keep listening, keep brainstorming, and keep working with you, with the team and with the administration to come up with new solutions to student concerns. It's been an honor to work with our dedicated staff members and administrators, and I look forward to working with them more closely.

I'm excited for our team this year, and I can't wait for what's to come. We are strong. We are Ave. We've got a bright future ahead.

#AMOAMU
- Stephen

What We Learned: Campus Life and Culture

We are so happy that we were able to host the first Catholic Council Network Conference in January, uniting Student Government leaders from Benedictine College, University of Mary, University of Dallas, and Ave Maria University together to share our thoughts and ideas about higher Catholic education.

Here are some of the things we learned in our discussion on Campus Life and Culture.

How is athletics integrated into campus?

  1. University of Dallas has a freshman-athlete integration program, where certain athletes are assigned to freshmen. They believe it's key is to be approachable, welcoming, show genuine care, and know who your student-athletes are.

  2. University of Mary has a program where the football team helps the freshmen move into their dorms during orientation.

 

How will we have helped our communities once we graduate?

  1. Ave Maria students volunteer through the Mother Teresa Project and Champions of Charity - two of the ways students are encouraged give back to their community.
  2. University of Mary has a Day of Service, where students volunteer to help the local area, working with United Way on various projects around town.

What We Learned: Catholic Identity, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and Academics

Student Government leaders from Benedictine College, University of Mary, and University of Dallas joined us for a conference in January and we couldn't be happier with the outcome.

Not only did we build friendships, but we also exchanged ideas that will lead toward the improvement of our institutions and, hopefully, higher Catholic education.

Here are some of the things we learned in our discussion with Dr. Seana Sugrue, Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Ave Maria University. Our discussion focused on three questions, and here we've included the questions and many of our notes.

What challenges do we face as Catholic leaders, as students and beyond, and how can we help to solve them?
  1. We need inspiration rooted in faith. Our inspiration often comes from others, who support and encourage us. Most importantly, it comes from God, and through the sacraments, spiritual direction, coming to terms with our imperfection and dependence, and getting back to the basic realization that Christ is with us, we are able to stay inspired.
  2. We need to be reflective on truth and knowledge. We need to have a connection with the deepest truths of the faith and truth in general - this is a university, after all. Reality is much larger than us. However, looking at different areas of knowledge (such as our majors and programs), we can get a glimpse of the unity of truth.
  3. We need to be faithful and serve others. As Christians, we are called to bring the light of our faith into our vocations, with a humble spirit and joyful attitude.

 

How can we help our respective schools stay true to our Catholic identity?
  1. When we are excellent versions of ourselves, we can help others be the best versions of themselvesWe can use our gifts to serve our schools, even after graduation. As government leaders, we should be open and practical, test each other's ideas, and maintain a spirit of awe for truth.

 

How can we promote academic research and ideas on campus?
  1. Discovery Day.  Benedictine College brought a unique idea to the table. At BC, Student Government helps facilitate "Discovery Day," where students are encouraged to share about their most fascinating discovery from the year.
  2. Books.  At the University of Dallas, the Student Government Executive Board reads different books throughout the year to instigate discussion. We think this is an interesting idea worth exploring.

While the notes on this page give a good overview, unfortunately we can't encapsulate our entire discussion on the web. There's still much more to be said, and as The Network develops, we are optimistic about the future development of these ideas.