O'Donoghue looks back, Norton takes office
By LAURA ROMPF
Associate News Editor
Jonathan Jorrissen sat in the student government office Wednesday night with his legs propped up on the conference table. In three days, he would take the office of chief of staff and while some would be nervous, Jorrissen seemed quite comfortable during his first media interview.
His predecessor, current chief of staff Jay Smith, also had his legs propped on the table — only they pointed in the opposite direction. How appropriate.
Jorrissen faced the center of the student government office where he will soon be part of a new administration, headed by the first female student body president Brooke Norton. Smith faced the door to the outside of the office. On April 1, he and current student body president Brian O'Donoghue will leave office.
For the past month, the two administrations have gone through a transition period. According to Jorrissen, the new administration hopes to build on O'Donoghue's, while also implementing new programs.
Compared to previous administrations, O'Donoghue's staff has completely expanded the role of what student government can accomplish. From implementing the Rector's Endowment Fund, which sets aside thousands of dollars for students in need, to establishing Founder's Day, a carnival that brought several campus organizations together, the current administration has surpassed most expectations.
"I think we've really accomplished a lot people said we couldn't accomplish," O'Donoghue said. "Time and time again we went after a goal and accomplished it."
Smith attributed the success of the administration to the hard working staff, which came in nearly everyday to the office.
"I think the most important thing we did was set a high standard for future administrations," Smith said.
Since Norton's election on Feb. 15, the current administration has been working with Norton newly elected vice president Brian Moscona and Jorrissen. According to both the old and new administrations, the transition has been smooth.
"I think our administration was special because we laid out a vision and went out and tried to do it," Smith said. "I hope and pray this new administration has a vision. We did our best in the past month to try and prepare them for what they will face."
O'Donoghue said he is never satisfied and the administration could've done more, but overall he thinks they did the best they could have with the tools they were given.
"I recognize my time is over," O'Donoghue said. "It's time to get some new blood and new ideas into this office."
Thursday night, Norton began moving boxes from her current office, across the room to the president's office. There were pictures to be hung and computers to be connected. But for Moscona and Jorrissen, the moving process is a bigger task. They will not simply carry boxes across a room, but up the stairs and down the hallway, too. Moscona and Jorrissen will add a new dynamic to the office of the president.
"I bring a totally new perspective to the administration," Jorrissen, the current junior class president, said. "I hope to bring a high level of energy and enthusiasm into the office."
Moscona realizes his role as vice president will often mean doing the jobs Norton and Jorrissen cannot do because of time commitments.
"I think that I am unique in the fact that I am very willing to do the grunt work that comes with any vice presidential role, but I am also very devoted to being an effective leader of the senate," Moscano said.
Although people claim the new administration will not change from the previous one, Moscona and Jorrissen reject that criticism clearing depicting new characteristics they bring to the office.
"Our goal is to build on what the previous administration has done this year," Jorrissen said. "But we want to look at what they did, expand on that and do everything bigger."
Jorrissen said he is confident that the new administration will be ready to take over come April 1.
"Jay has been great through transition. He is obviously well experienced and knowledgeable," Jorrissen said. "He has imparted his veritable cornucopia of knowledge onto me.
Because O'Donogue's administration has been so successful, accomplishing nearly every goal they set, Norton may have a tough act to follow. However, O'Donoghue is quick to point out that Norton was an essential component of the current administration.
"Brooke has been such an integral part of the office," O'Donogue said. "Her administration can take all the lessons we've learned as we did it for the first time and build a better administration."
Norton realizes the high expectations created by O'Donoghue are also coupled with the fact she is the first female student body president. But Norton isn't shying away from the challenge.
"Odie served the students of Notre Dame incredibly well this year," she said. "With a year of experience, I hope that I will be able to hit the ground running even faster than Odie did. And the office occupied by the student body president will finally have a woman's touch."
Norton plans to continue many programs started by the current administration, but wants to work more closely with the student body.
"We intend to increase communication with the student body, and work with other campus groups and organizations in order to take more of an active role in diversity affairs, gender issues, and social concerns on campus," Norton said.
Because O'Donoghue was going out of town for the weekend on Thursday, he knew he had to pass his office key to Norton on Wednesday night. The staff had been gone for hours, the clock read midnight, but both O'Donoghue and Norton remained in the student government office.
They had worked together like this for countless hours, long into the night, over the past year. During most of those late hours both longed to be sleeping in Walsh or Keough. But this night was different.
Norton was in no rush to leave the office during this final night she was able to observe O'Donoghue and recall the lessons he taught her.
"From a distance, one can tell Odie is knowledgeable and committed to his job," Norton said. "But on a personal level he really does what his heart believes and what is best for Notre Dame."
O'Donoghue called Norton into the president's office, swore her in and handed Norton the small key to the office, which she has now placed on a blue key chain.
The calm and collected O'Donoghue seemed a bit emotional to Norton, and while he is normally a man of many words, he offered her only one final piece of advice.
"He told me, `Many people talk about the dignity of the office, and that is part of your job,'" Norton said. "`But more importantly, your job is to love each and every student at Notre Dame no matter what.'"
All News Stories for Friday, March 30, 2001