Twenty-three students were arrested for minor consumption of alcohol at an off-campus party Friday night. South Bend police received a call of a noise complaint at the 1300 Block of North St. Joseph St., the police report said. When police arrived, those attending the party began to flee the premises. “As officers were pulling up, a bunch of people went tearing out of the house, out the back door,” Sgt. Anne Schellinger said. Police entered the house and allowed those who could prove they were at least 21 years old to leave the party. Those who were underage were asked to take a portable breathalyzer test. The Indiana State Excise Police were not involved. The suspects were 18 to 20 years old and were taken to St. Joseph County Jail. A list of blood alcohol contents was not available. This incident raises the number of students arrested for minor consuming since returning to school to 26. Three students were arrested for minor consuming last weekend. Police also busted a party in July at 1017 East Washington St. and took 43 people to jail for various alcohol charges. Those arrested included eight football players, one basketball player and nine hockey players.
The unemployment rate in the United States is 7.8 percent. The country is more than $16 trillion in debt. The banks received a bailout from the federal government. So did the auto industry. At the end of the year, Bush-era tax cuts are scheduled to expire. Last year’s temporary payroll tax cuts are also scheduled to expire, resulting in at least a two percent tax increase for workers, when the Budget Control Act of 2011 takes effect. When the nation reaches this so-called “fiscal cliff,” the United States would also see the end of certain tax cuts for businesses, the beginning of health care taxes related to the Affordable Care Act and spending cuts to a number of government programs, including Medicare and the Department of Defense. No wonder polls by Rasmussen Reports, Gallup, Bloomberg National Poll and numerous news organizations rank the economy as the top issue for many voters on Nov. 6. Notre Dame economics professor Timothy Fuerst said all agree the country’s budgetary policy cannot last as it is, but the presidential candidates differ on their strategies to bring about change. “I think the broader issue is how to deal with the enormous federal budget deficits, on the order of $1 trillion a year,” Fuerst said. “This is simply not sustainable. Even after the economy recovers, there will be substantial deficits because of the rapid growth in spending, primarily entitlement spending such as Medicare and Social Security.” Democrat President Barack Obama and Republican former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney have both failed to explain what cuts they would make or how they would change entitlement spending, Fuerst said. “President Obama claims that his health care law will lower spending on health care and thus reduce Medicare costs,” Fuerst said. “Gov. Romney disagrees, but instead suggests other reforms such as higher retirement ages and insurance vouchers that would allow retirees to shop the private marketplace for insurance.” The candidates are opposed on tax policy as well, he said. Obama has proposed gaining revenue by taxing those with incomes about $1 million, while Romney wants to expand the tax base by eliminating deductions and loopholes that he has not identified in full. Notre Dame economics professor Robert Flood said the candidates, no matter their different philosophies, would both have to take the same basic steps toward a stronger economy. “Both need to move the budget toward balance,” he said. “Both will have to raise more revenue and spend less.” Economist Austan Goolsbee is a professor at The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under Obama. Obama has focused on cutting taxes for the middle class and letting high income rates rise, Goolsbee said, whereas Romney has called for “across-the-board” tax cuts that tend to benefit those with higher incomes, abolishing the estate tax and cutting capital income taxes. “I think it’s a pretty fundamental issue of the election,” Goolsbee said. “Do you think economic growth comes from a small group of people at the top or from broad-based relief with investments in training, infrastructure and innovation?” Goolsbee called Romney “factually incorrect” in his statement that the unemployment rate has been dropping because people have stopped looking for work and left the job force. “Suggesting that nothing has improved since January 2009 is absurd,” he said. “”We were in the middle of an epic downturn that almost careered into a depression. … The route problem is that growth has been modest – around 2 percent – and that’s not enough to really juice the hiring side.” Fuerst agreed with Romney’s claim, saying the economic rebound after the recession has been tough on job hunters. “The labor market recovery has been very, very, very weak,” Fuerst said. “In my view, the best measure of [the job situation] is the percent of the population employed. This was just about 63 percent before the recession. During the recession, it fell to about 58.5 percent and has remained remarkably flat since then.” Shortly after Election Day, the nation could hit the approaching fiscal cliff, which Fuerst said will take consideration from more than just the president. “My guess is that no matter who wins the election, that the Congress will push most of these issues down the road about six months so that the administration will have time to come up with a complete policy proposal,” he said. A mid-October poll from Rasmussen Reports found 50 percent of voters trusted Romney over Obama on the economy, while 43 percent favored the incumbent president. The race has only tightened as Election Day approaches, but one fact remains clear for the winner – after Nov. 6, one of these two men will have to put the money where his mouth is.
After a decades-long push by members of the Notre Dame community for official recognition of a gay-straight alliance (GSA), the University has announced plans for a student organization tasked with providing services and support to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) students and their allies. Though this is a historic decision in Notre Dame’s efforts to better serve a diverse student body, University President Fr. John Jenkins said the plan for the unnamed student organization is a natural progression of previous initiatives. “In the 1990s, as I said, we created the Standing Committee [on Gay and Lesbian Student Needs]. In 2006, that was changed to the Core Council [for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning Students], and various initiatives were undertaken in conjunction with those efforts,” he said. “I see this as the next step to be more effective.” The decision comes at the conclusion of a five-month review process commissioned by Jenkins and conducted by the office of Erin Hoffmann Harding, vice president for Student Affairs. “[Harding] and her staff have had countless hours [working] extremely hard and have submitted this plan, which I enthusiastically support and accept,” Jenkins said. “It grows out of our mission as a Catholic university, it’s directed by that fundamental mission in a profound way, I think, so I’m enthusiastic about it.” The plan, titled “Beloved Friends and Allies: A Pastoral Plan for the Support and Holistic Development of GLBTQ and Heterosexual Students at the University of Notre Dame,” details the establishment of a “new support and service student organization for GLBTQ students and their allies,” as well as a new advisory committee and the establishment of a full-time student development staff position focused on GLBTQ issues, according to a Dec. 5 University press release. Harding said members of the Notre Dame community should consider more than the establishment of the student organization when evaluating the plan. “The comprehensiveness of this not only being about the organization is a very important element to the entire thing because of the education, because of the awareness, because of the support and interaction with other University offices, we think this is a plan that we believe and hope will be much more than about one organization,” she said. Harding explained the significance of the planned group’s intended status as a student organization rather than a club, a distinction she said is meant to ensure the continuity of the organization over time. “Here at Notre Dame, a club is actually in a sense a temporary structure,” Harding said. “It continues and does programming at the interest of the club itself. So our organizations have more permanence and more stature.” Harding said the status of the planned group as a student organization positions it closer in structure to student government and similar groups than typical student clubs. “The first [distinction] is that it’s part of someone’s full-time job to advise that group, and that provides some of the sustainability and the consistency over time,” she said. This new position will fulfill a number of responsibilities ranging from administrative to advisory. “Underneath all of [these goals], is the support of an individual who we will hire to have this full-time responsibility to work with these structures and with our students on our climate and the Spirit of Inclusion that we all hope to [live by],” Harding said. “That person will play several roles associated with a student organization: to serve as advisor; that person will participate on a new advisory committee that will work with and give input to my office; and lastly, will be responsible for the consistency of the training and the awareness that we build over time.” While the University has greater oversight of organizations than clubs, Harding said organizations have a high level of autonomy. “An organization, like a club, still develops its own constitution and puts in place its own practices, it elects its own leaders,” she said. “But it does have additional input in terms of the approval of that constitution by the University.” Members of the student organization will be free to meet independently, but official matters must be dealt with in the presence of the advisor. “Students will and do meet and discuss organization issues beyond official meetings. Because of the constitutional distinction I mentioned, official business is conducted with the advisor present, who we describe in the [Dec. 5 press] release,” Harding said. “This is consistent with the practices and procedures of our other student organizations on campus.” The timeline for the establishment of this organization will hinge upon the filling of the new position, which Harding estimates will occur early next summer. “Our anticipation is that it is likely the person will not be here full time at the University until July 1, and the reason for that is the cycle of recruiting in the student affairs profession tends to occur in the spring,” she said. As these plans take shape, the new advisory committee will replace the Core Council and take up many of its functions, while incorporating a structure more conducive to performing its intended advisory role. “What’s interesting is the Core Council was started as an advisory committee, and its size reflected that, rather than letting it grow to a programming body,” Harding said. “So its size and composition … I think has limited its ability to grow with the growing needs of campus.” Citing the limits of the Core Council, a group of eight undergraduate students and a number of representatives from her office, Harding said the new advisory council will likely include graduate student representation, as well as staff, faculty and additional administrators. Harding praised the achievements of the Core Council, and said the new advisory committee will maintain and build upon these programs. “There’s been a lot of programs started and launched by the Core Council that have added great value to the University, particularly, I think, when we welcome students to campus for the first time – our first-year students – and training of our hall staff,” she said. “These are programs that can, and should and must be continued.” The road to a decision Harding said the process to develop her office’s proposal to the Office of the President included months of consultation with the various constituencies involved. “The parameter for this solution needed to serve our students well and be grounded fundamentally in our Catholic mission as a University,” she said. “So we’ve spent time with theologians and members, in particular, of our own faculty, who have given us advice on this matter and on Church teaching.” Jenkins said the organization’s roots in Church teaching had a broad practical impact, but these roots are not meant to serve as a basis for limitations the University could theoretically impose on the group. “It’s a rich teaching about the role of sexuality, about intimacy, about human relations, about responsibilities to the community, about relationships to the Church,” Jenkins said. “To put this in a ‘Well you can do this, you can’t do that,’ is to distort the issue.” Once the theological guidelines were defined, Harding said her office tapped the opinion of the constituency most heavily tied to the issue, the student body. “[There were] several groups of students we consulted along the way: first and foremost, students on the Core Council, since it is our structure in place; students who applied for club status; we also spoke with students who were uninvolved particularly with either effort,” she said. “We did two focus groups, one with undergraduate students, one with graduate students, to get their perspective and input on this issue. We consulted with student government, we consulted with a few students who just wrote me along the way.” Harding said her calendar held more than 40 such meetings by the end of the review. Looking outside the community, Harding’s team compared Notre Dame’s existing structures with those of other institutions. “[We] just refreshed some external benchmarking, particularly looking at other Catholic institutions to see the breadths of structures they had in place to serve students who identify as gay or lesbian,” she said. Throughout her office’s review, Harding came to see a commonality amongst many of these sources. “I’ve been struck throughout this process, how whether I’ve been talking to a student, an administrator, a faculty member or leaders in our Church, that we all share a common goal that really speaks back to the Spirit of Inclusion the University adopted many years ago, which is to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment,” she said. With the vast amount of consultation and research conducted by Harding’s office, the final decision came down to Jenkins. “We inform all parties who kind of have a stake in this, of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Just as Erin did with the students and graduate students, so I did with members of the Board [of Trustees], but ultimately it was a decision by the President to do this review,” Jenkins said. “[Harding] made a proposal that I accepted on my authority.” Sending a message Despite the challenges of tackling the controversial topic at Notre Dame, Jenkins said he is confident in the plan, which he expects will garner both positive and negative responses. “This is a contested area in society-at-large … whenever an issue like that is present at Notre Dame, it will get attention. I expect some criticism from both people who say – who are on the left and the right – that we’re too far or not far enough,” he said. “Controversy is not necessarily a bad thing. If you avoid controversy, you don’t do anything.” Jenkins said he believes the soundness of the plan will withstand the scrutiny it is bound to receive from concerned parties. “I think if people look carefully at what we’re doing and really, in a thoughtful way, evaluate it, I think thoughtful people will see that this makes sense,” he said. “It makes sense for a Catholic university like Notre Dame to provide such structures to serve their students effectively.” Regardless of potential controversy, Harding said she stands by the plan’s compliance with the University’s mission as well as its ability to better meet students’ needs. “For me to sleep at night, I think about two things. I think first and foremost about the unique mission of this place, and my obligation and my role to serve students,” she said. “I sleep well thinking this is the next step in our evolution as a community. Jenkins said prospective students who truly believe in the University’s mission will likely find value in the plan. “If you look at how graduates of Notre Dame reflect on their experience, one of the things that comes out very strongly is that there is a deep sense of community at Notre Dame, and I think when you read this document, people will see what’s really front and center,” he said. “If people want to be part of that, then this is the place for them.” While Jenkins said expanding the diversity at Notre Dame is part of the administration’s duties, he said the responsibility does not end at the steps of the Main Building. “Diversity isn’t just about having a bunch of different people all in the same place. It really is about building a community,” he said. “As Erin said, we’re not there, we should never feel like we’ve got this down. … It’s my responsibility and Erin’s responsibility to work on this, but it’s everyone’s responsibility.”
As the school year begins, new rectors are getting acclimated to their roles as community leaders and mentors in Cavanaugh Hall, Farley Hall, Keough Hall, Lewis Hall, O’Neill Hall and Ryan Hall. All of the new rectors have studied at Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s College in the past and have returned to give back to a residential system that allowed them to grow. O’Neill Hall rector Chris Tarnacki, who lived in the dorm as an undergraduate, said he felt called to be a rector because of the unique nature of Notre Dame’s residence life. “I wanted to become a rector because I believe deeply in Notre Dame’s residential mission. It really is as simple as that,” Tarnacki said. “There isn’t another career choice I could make that would give me the fulfillment of working with the young men and women that come here.” Keough Hall rector Pat Reidy, a seminarian who lived in Sorin College as an undergraduate, said Notre Dame’s Holy Cross heritage is his inspiration for becoming a rector. “The University’s founder, Fr. Edward Sorin, had a dream that Notre Dame would become a powerful means for good, that its graduates would be good people who cared deeply about the world and one another,” Reidy said. “That lofty dream is shaped in the day-to-day, in classrooms and dorm rooms. Rectors strive to build community in the dorms through the work of family, an ideal strongly resonant with my own upbringing and my discernment of religious life in Holy Cross.” Reidy, who will be ordained a priest next year, said his only long-term plan is to preside over Mass in the dorm. “I’m most looking forward to] celebrating Mass in Keough’s Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a newly-ordained priest next Easter, surrounded by the men with whom I’ve been privilege to journey this year,” Reidy said. Farley Hall rector Elaine DeBassige said she will model her actions as rector on those of her former rector in Lewis Hall. “One of my rectors (both are still on campus!) was in Lewis when my dad died. It was during finals of my junior year. I was devastated and she was amazing, along with my AR,” De Bassige said. “They made things happen and got me home so that I could be with my family. That kind of support is unheard of. Friends who went to other schools are always shocked when I tell this story.” DeBassige said she has big plans to open a cafÃ© within Farley Hall. “My first big project is to create CafÃ© Far Far in the basement in a part of Farley that is rarely used,” she said. “I want to maximize the use of the space that we have for study groups and be a place where everyone wants to be.” Cavanaugh Hall rector Jeannine DiCarlantonio said she intends to emphasize a sense of community in her hall. “Community truly can have an incredible impact on our life and experiences, and the residence hall system at Notre Dame reflects the importance of community in helping us lead lives full of faith, hope, and love,” DiCarlantonio said. Ryan Hall rector Allison Greene said she was overjoyed at how welcoming the residents of her dorm have been toward her. “They impressed me from the beginning by introducing themselves to me and offering sincere welcomes; they were also quick to show me what bright, fun, spiritual, and fully engaged students they are,” Greene said. “I am looking forward to supporting them, being present for their athletic and club events, celebrating liturgy together in our beautiful chapel, and living a year of campus life at Notre Dame together.” Lewis Hall rector Katy Patterson said she is looking forward to building relationships with her residents as they continue on their life’s journey. “I am excited to journey with the women of Lewis Hall through their years of undergraduate education and formation,” Patterson said in a press release. “I feel honored and blessed to be the rector of this community as these women discern who they are called to be and what they are called to offer for the good of the world.”
At Wednesday night’s student Senate meeting, junior Deirdre Harrington, chair of the Student Campus Orientation Committee (SCOC), led a discussion on upcoming changes to the first-year orientation program, or “Frosh-O.” Harrington said Frosh-O weekend begins the Friday that freshmen move into their dorms and continues through Sunday evening. SCOC and dorm Frosh-O committees and commissioners, as well as the University administration, plan activities and information sessions within allocated times throughout the weekend, “In SCOC, we train all the staff for Frosh-O and go over programming and work on inclusion and having a fair and welcoming Frosh-O experience for everyone,” Harrington said.Harrington said this year, SCOC hopes to “change the culture that surrounds Frosh-O to make it a more welcoming and inclusive experience. … A lot of people don’t have positive experiences with Frosh-O weekend, and that’s not a good welcome to Notre Dame.”Part of making Frosh-O a positive experience involves training dorm commissioners, Harrington said. “We’re training them to identify micro and macro aggressions,” she said. “The idea is that these commissioners become active bystanders within their Frosh-O committees and … make sure every person feels welcome.”Harrington said several changes to the Class of 2018’s Frosh-O weekend are not actually new developments, but rather technicalities that have been largely ignored in recent years. For example, serenading dorms with songs and dances will not be allowed before Sunday. “We’re also looking into changing the name of ‘serenades’ to something that doesn’t have such a romantic connotation,” Harrinton said. “We want to change it so it isn’t heteronormative and doesn’t make people feel uncomfortable. The point of serenades is not to seduce people; it’s dorm spirit.”Additionally, dorms will walk to Domerfest on their own instead of being paired with another dorm. “We want to ensure there’s no [forced] dates … it’s not conducive to forming friendships, and it’s awkward,” Harrington said.“It’s also a logistical problem,” student government chief of staff and sophomore Shannon Montague said. “There’s going to be a lot of construction by Stepan [Center], and we’re really not sure what it’s going to look like and how easy it will be to get people through.”Another initiative SCOC will put forth this August is to encourage more programming between same-sex halls “because it’s important to have friends of your gender from outside your dorm,” Harrington said.Several senators expressed concern that this change would alter the dynamic of Frosh-O. Alumni Hall senator and freshman Scott Moore said opposite-gender dorm programming encourages freshmen to make friends with people of the opposite gender — an important experience within the University’s single-sex residence hall system. Montague said the ultimate goal for Frosh-O is to promote a balance of events.“I know it’s a huge part of Frosh-O, but we’ve heard a lot of comments on the other side, where people feel like they only have same-sex friends that live in their dorm,” Montague said. “This year, we’re trying to split the time. We just want to make sure all those complaints are addressed.”Tags: First Year Orientation, Frosh-O, SCOC, Senate
Last updated Saturday at 7:08 p.m.The Election Committee of Judicial Council announced Thursday in a press release that it is issuing sanctions in response to campaign misconduct by the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket.According to the release, the committee determined that juniors Alex Kruszewski and Julia Dunbar were “in violation of Section 17.1(f)(6)” of the Student Union Constitution, which states, “Candidates may not communicate an endorsement such that it can be construed to represent that of a Residence Hall, Student Union Organization, University department, office or official.”The release said the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket is required to rewrite the part of its platform and campaign website that promises a decrease in tuition “to clarify any statements construed as endorsements from University departments, offices or officials.”“As Alex has been working with administrators on drafting a plan to reduce tuition, we wanted to indicate on our website that decreasing tuition is actually not impossible, but rather it is something that administrators have supported during his work this past year,” the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket said in a statement emailed to The Observer on Thursday night. “ … We never meant to portray that we were endorsed by the administration of Notre Dame, just that a unique benefit of our team is that we have experience working with administrators and therefore can achieve bold goals. We will change the wording of the platform in order to make this clearer, and tuition reduction will remain a staple item as it is something that we know we can make progress on in the coming year if elected.”According to the press release, the Judicial Council needs to review and approve the revised platform of the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket before its publication.The student senate called an emergency meeting Friday to hear an appeal of the Election Committee’s decision, but it did not reach a quorum and could not hear the appeal. As a result, per section 3.6(f) of the student union constitution, “the decision of the Election Committee shall stand.”The Kruszewski-Dunbar campaign changed its platform to reflect that “administrators listed … throughout the [campaign’s] website are not to be construed as endorsing Alex [and] Julia as per student union constitution 17.1(f)(6).”Tags: Election Committee, Judicial Council, sanctions
George Mason University professor Ahsan Butt presented “Why did the U.S. invade Iraq in 2003?” to students and faculty Tuesday afternoon in Jenkins and Nanovic Halls. The presentation, named after Butt’s research paper of the same title, was presented by the Notre Dame International Security Center.Butt focused on one of the most commonly acknowledged reasons for the Iraq war: Saddam Hussein’s possession or mobilization of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). In addition to noting that the Bush administration was “sincerely wrong about this intelligence,” he went on to further squash this WMD argument.“Many believe that uncertainty of intelligence led to the decision for war, but I would argue that the decision for war led to uncertainty of intelligence,” Butt said.He continued by saying WMDs certainly can lead to war, but there was no evidence for that in this example.Instead, Butt said the U.S. invasion of Iraq can be attributed to performative war thesis, an argument dependent on status and hierarchy. He said anxiety regarding the United States’ status led to a need to demonstrate hegemony and establish order. The United States’ motivations fell into three factors: the need for a “new beginning,” repairing reputation and avoiding peaceful bargain.“The ’90s were a time of great peace and prosperity for the U.S., and all of that ended on 9/11 and America became vulnerable for the first time,” Butt said. “It led to a desire to show that we are in fact the hegemon and are not vulnerable.”Thus, this new beginning was about fixing the United States’ global status, Butt said.“The Bush administration wanted to remake the world’s political map,” he said. “These aren’t small goals and they didn’t have to do with WMDs.”Another important point made by Butt was that Afghanistan, a vulnerable country itself, wasn’t enough, so why invade Iraq? The fact that Hussein was still reigning and powerful following the Gulf War presented a threat to which the U.S. could prove its hegemony, Butt said.Lastly, Butt argued that there was never an opportunity for a peaceful bargain, for example, working through the United Nations following 9/11. The invasion of Iraq, Butt said, was not a question of if, but when.“If there even was a decision, when was it taken?” Butt said. “Most likely on 9/11 and no later than October or November of that fall.”Butt concluded his work on the performative war thesis by saying a bargaining model isn’t everything, and the case of the U.S. in Iraq was “rooted in assertive nationalism and American exceptionalism.”Tags: 9/11, Afghanistan, Ahsan Butt, iraq, Iraq war
Saint Mary’s senior Grace Erving traveled to Kolkata, India, this summer to participate in a missionary program with the Missionaries of Charity. The social work major made the trek to India with only a travel backpack, spending one month serving the dying and destitute at Prem Dan, one of the Missionaries of Charity’s six facilities in Kolkata. Prem Dan, meaning ‘Gift of Love,’ specifically caters to the needs of the elderly and dying in the poorer areas of the city. “These women come to Prem Dan because they have been abandoned by their families and have nowhere else to go. Most people come to Prem Dan in a really bad state, and it’s incredible to see how they progress to become so happy,” Erving said in an email. The daily routine allowed Erving to connect with both her fellow volunteers, as well as the wider community. “Every day we would go to Mass with the sisters. Mass felt homey and reverent since they always took their shoes off before entering the sacred space,” she said. “After, all the volunteers would eat together and head to our assignments. Every day I walked through the slums. People on the streets recognized who we were and where we were going, so they would greet us every morning and try to speak English to us.” It was in the tiny acts of service, she said, that allowed her to connect with the women at Prem Dan.“Every morning we would go make beds and wipe everything down. Since some people can’t get out of bed, we would go back and make sure we fed them,” Erving said. “I think this was the most rewarding thing we did. It’s an incredibly humbling experience to feed them and just sit and be with them.” For Erving, being able to help provide both material and emotional support for these women was one of the greatest lessons. “It’s one thing to feed someone’s material needs and give them a bed, food and water. But people thirst for that intimacy and proximity to people,” she said. “As Christians, we are called to see Christ in everyone, and by sitting and feeding people you don’t even know, you start to see Christ in them.”While the trip wasn’t without its challenges, Evring said it ended up being one of the most transformative experiences. “While there was a language barrier at first since I didn’t speak Bengali, I ended up learning to communicate in ways I didn’t think I could before,” she said. “The women there were awesome. It was such a gift to just be able to go and spend time with them.”Erving said the greatest lesson she learned was how much your heart can open up to a new experience. “After doing something like this, your heart grows in its capacity to love,” she said. “The world is not scary at all. People are people. There are good people wherever you go. You will find so many people along the way when you just open yourself up to the possibility of going and seeing how it goes.” Tags: India, Prem Dan, Saint Mary’s College, summer abroad
Assessing other potential changesThe proposed changes loosen a few requirements for how schools investigate sexual misconduct including: allowing colleges to determine what standard of evidence they will use; greater flexibility in deciding what off-campus conduct they will address; and getting rid of the requirement that cases be resolved within 60 days.Though the University appreciates the “latitude” granted to colleges in addressing off-campus conduct, Notre Dame does not plan to change its practices in these areas or its other policies, administrators said.“The University has long included the flexibility for us to take off-campus incidents into account,” Hoffmann Harding said. “We don’t anticipate changing that, even if the federal rules provide more flexibility.”Hanna said while they might disagree with the proposed rules’ stance on off-campus misconduct, they understand why universities could support this change.“I definitely think that from our perspective, being able to investigate, or at least look into more conduct than less is helpful, and I know that that’s not always the perspective of universities because it’s really time-consuming and costly,” Hanna said.Hanna added it was “heartening nonetheless” that Notre Dame plans to continue to investigate off-campus incidents. The new rules would also allow universities to choose whether they use “preponderance of the evidence” standard or “clear and convincing standard” in evaluating alleged misconduct. Under the Obama administration, schools were required to use the former standard, which means the misconduct occurred “more likely than not,” according to the New York Times. The “clear and convincing standard” means the alleged misconduct was “highly probable” and requires a higher standard of evidence.Hoffmann Harding said the University plans to continue to use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard.“I think the new proposed rules would perhaps allow for more flexibility, but you need to be consistent across all of your cases,” she said. “And for all of the cases at the University, right now, we do use that preponderance of the evidence standard.”Additionally, Notre Dame currently plans to stick to its 60-day timeline for investigating cases, Oliver said.“It’s still our goal,” she said. “ … We have University holidays and breaks and there’s a lot of reasons why that can be impacted, but in du Lac, you’ll read it’s still a 60-day expectation that we place on ourselves.”Once the new rules are announced, Hoffmann Harding said she would likely approach the Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention (CSAP) for student feedback if the University was considering changing its policies. Notre Dame may also be open to collecting broader student feedback depending on the rules, she said.“I think we’ll have to respond and see what the content of the changes are — should we have more intentional student conversations with a broader set of groups beyond CSAP?” Hoffmann Harding said. “We’re really open to that.”Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Hanna’s title. Hanna is the policy director for End Rape on Campus. The Observer regrets this error.Have you been through the Title IX process at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s or Holy Cross? The Observer wants to hear from you. Fill out our form here to get in touch.Tags: Betsy DeVos, division of student affairs, End Rape on Campus, Office of Institutional Equity, Title IX University concerns about proposed Title IX rulesAccording to the New York Times, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded Obama-era guidelines for Title IX cases in 2017, most notably reversing the policy that required colleges to use “preponderance of the evidence” — the lowest standard of evidence — in determining whether to discipline students for alleged sexual misconduct.Last November, DeVos proposed new rules to replace the former guidelines, and members of the public were welcomed to submit comments on the regulations over a period spanning about two months. Following a review of these comments, the new rules will be announced.In its public comment, the University praised the new rules’ support for alternative resolution and the flexibility it grants in investigating off-campus misconduct, as universities would only have to investigate incidents within campus-sanctioned programming under the proposed policies. Notre Dame also approved of the requirements to provide both parties involved in the investigation with “detailed written notices of investigation,” the right to review evidence and an appeals process should one exist at the school.However, the University also expressed concerns about how outside parties would be involved in the process under the new regulations. The proposed rules would allow students on either side of the case to bring in an advisor or attorney to cross-examine the other party, a practice the University said could discourage students from reporting.“We were concerned both about the environment — that it would not necessarily encourage students to come forward in all cases — but we were also really concerned about inequitable resources that might be available to students there,” Hoffmann Harding said. “So we’ll see what comes out in the final rules.”Hoffmann Harding said the University currently allows students to have advisors during the Title IX process, but they serve in “non-speaking roles.”“Students can have advisors available, but those are non-speaking roles so it doesn’t turn into the equivalent of sort of a litigation process,” she said. “But it does allow us to gather information, I think, quite fairly and ask questions of both parties that again, try to serve students well and the community.” B. Ever Hanna, policy director for advocacy group End Rape on Campus, appreciated that Notre Dame took the time to submit a comment. Hanna echoed the University’s concerns about cross-examination, saying the practice could be traumatic for students and promote inequality for those with fewer financial resources.“In general, there’s a lot of great language [in the comment] about what fairness actually is,” Hanna said. “Does fairness require due process protections like direct cross-examination, or can fairness look like something else? So the fact that the comment links fairness and not having cross-examination is really great.” Diane Park | The Observer The University moved its Title IX office to the Office of Institutional Equity this summer and has been preparing for national changes to Title IX rules by submitting a public comment on new proposed regulations.University administrators said the Student Title IX Service’s move will have little impact on how Notre Dame handles cases of sexual misconduct. Notre Dame also does not anticipate major changes to its process in areas where universities may be granted more flexibility under the new regulations. Why the office was movedStudent Title IX Services, which formerly operated “as a support service within the Division of Student Affairs,” moved to the Office of Institutional Equity due to the departure of Bill Stackman, former associate vice president for student services.Vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding said when looking for someone to take on Stackman’s Title IX responsibilities, she turned to Erin Oliver, an assistant vice president who oversees the Office of Institutional Equity.“She brings to Notre Dame, through her leadership here, deep experience from her past institutions with student Title IX services,” Hoffmann Harding said. “So truly, it was just a happy marrying of hiring the right leader for institutional equity, knowing … that [it] had become a more common practice nationally to have faculty, staff and students’ cases handled in one place.”While reports of faculty, staff and student misconduct will now be handled through one office, the Title IX process at Notre Dame has remained nearly unchanged, Oliver said.“As far as the life of a complaint or report that comes into our office, through resolution, it’s primarily the same team doing the same good work,” she said.Students who report sexual misconduct can choose to pursue an administrative resolution — which can result in a disciplinary outcome — or in some cases, an alternative resolution, which consists of mediation.
In a Zoom meeting, the Notre Dame student body senate discussed the possibility of reorganizing the entire student body government, a topic which has been extensively discussed in the past as well. To begin, junior student body president Rachel Ingal delivered her state of the union address, in which she recognized the hard work and sense of community practiced not only by the student government but also the general student body. “We have begun this term in what is truly unprecedented times in all of our lives, and we are grateful for your adaptability and spirit through it all,” Ingal said. “If anything, this time has reinforced what I already knew, that Notre Dame is filled with good people.” Although hallmark student government programming events — such as Back the Bend, an initiative to volunteer in South Bend, and Take Back the Night, an initiative to support sexual assault survivors — can no longer occur in person, the executive cabinet is eager to create new programming as well as find solutions to ensure such programming is implemented in the fall. “We were excited to launch our #stayhomend initiative this weekend, starting with our student taught yoga and dance athletics class over Zoom,” Ingal said. She said the executive board looks forward to expanding this virtual programming in the coming weeks with online cooking classes, additional mental health resources and more. Wednesday’s meeting saw the swearing in of many student executives as Henry Jackson was sworn in as senator of Keenan Hall and seven individuals were approved serve as 2020-2021 Student Union Board (SUB) executives. The board approved is as follows: junior Cameron Lucas, Co-Director of Programming; sophomore Matthew Luneburg, Co-Director of Programming; sophomore Katherine McLaughlin, Co-Director of Programming; junior Megan Baumbach, Director of Finance; freshman Nicole Campbell, Director of Art; junior Jesse Bordallo, Director of Publicity; and junior Elizabeth Soller, Director of Operations.Sophomore Matthew Bisner, newly appointed Judicial Council president for the 2020-2021 term, then presented a case to the senate suggesting a thorough reordering of the Notre Dame student body government. An argument which stemmed from research conducted on peer institutions, years of identical requests from Bisner’s predecessors and a particular concern about the efficiency of the student body government. “Just looking at what our peers do, we are ages behind,” he said. “Our constitution is filled with minutiae that are more detail oriented than the purpose that we were put here to do, which is to serve the student body.” Bisner’s research analyzed the student government systems of peer institutions such as Washington University, Baylor University, the University of Mississippi and Duke University. Of all these institutions, Notre Dame is the only one to have a unicameral system chaired by the student body Vice President and has the longest constitution, which is 34 pages longer than the United States federal constitution. Additionally, Bisner also noted the ND Judicial Council has no published or constitutional rights which allow students in hearings, which is unprecedented in his research. Bisner had several suggestions on how to reorder the ND student body government including: integrating the ten branches of government into three, simplifying the constitution through the publication and expansion of bylaws, considering the position of a separate chair of the senate and creating a bicameral system with one chamber responsible for financial affairs, which is precedented at other universities. “This is coming out of a term in which we spent seven to 10 entire senate meetings dedicated to just club funding, and yes that is an important issue to talk about, but it bogged down the senate to an extreme extent. If we can empower a financial body to handle those debates then the senate can get back to looking at student needs in a more policy driven way.” Bisner said he is not the first Judicial Council president to make these recommendations. “I think we are at a turning point,” he said. “This is not the first time that these recommendations have been brought up in the Notre Dame Student Union.” Bisner offered three routes the senate could undertake to address the problem of governmental efficiency. The first would be a formal, legalized route involving a full constitutional overhaul led by a constitutional convention. The second would be a less formal route involving moving parts of the constitution to bylaws through a gradual process. The third option he said is to do nothing, “I call this the Groundhog Day approach,” Bisner said. “Because for the past decade, everyone holding my position has made these recommendations.” The new Chief of Staff, junior Aaron Benavides, put forward that an overhaul of governmental structure could be difficult to achieve in the time of the pandemic, “I do think this process might not be as favorable right now,” he said. Benavides expressed the concern other policy efforts could fall behind in such procedures. Additionally, a number of senators expressed concern over the ability to successfully be engaged in conversation with students since the senate is not on campus and many expressed concern about not returning for the fall semester. Bisner recommended that the senate brainstorm and conclude on a path forward either through committee, resolution or convention before the end of the academic term. Tags: Senate, student body government, Student Union Board