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Regular meeting canceled

Andrew Thagard | Tuesday, February 17, 2004

A lack of sufficient voting members prohibited the Council of Representatives from holding an official meeting yesterday afternoon, but the 14 members in attendance informally discussed their concerns about viewpoint letters and columns in The Observer regarding affirmative action.The issue was brought to the forefront at the last CLC meeting and again at Wednesday’s student senate meeting, when representatives from the Diversity Council criticized The Observer for its decision to run a column against affirmative action that was accompanied by an illustration of Martin Luther King, Jr. The group had presented a letter to both student senate and The Observer making specific demands of the student newspaper and proposing the implementation of a required semester-long course on diversity awareness for all undergraduate students.Leah McGee, CLC’s representative from the Diversity Council, briefed members on a Friday meeting that she and other student government representatives had with Andrew Soukup, editor in chief of The Observer.”We ran down some of the issues we [the Diversity Council] presented in Senate … We went back and forth for a while, but no real agreement was reached,” she said.Some members criticized The Observer for refusing to take action for what they perceived to be poor decision-making in its editorial practices.”I think they should take responsibility for their actions and at least write a letter of apology to the Diversity Council,” said Emily Chin, student body vice president and a member of CLC.Other members, including Wyatt Maxwell, suggested that the letters and editorials were more a reflection of the opinions of the Notre Dame community than the attitude of the newspaper. Charlie Ebersol, however, said the columns and letters printed seemed to suggest a conservative bias held by the editorial board.”The Observer this year is radically conservative,” he said.Still, Ebersol recommended that the Diversity Council show caution in the actions it takes on the issue.”They [The Observer] are not a student organization … I don’t agree with what they did [but] beyond this point I don’t think we can expect anything from The Observer,” he said. “Ignoring this is better than letting it get fanned.”McGee thanked CLC for its advice and support and said that the Diversity Council is continuing to explore possible ways of responding, though she declined to give details.In other CLC news:Chin updated the council on the work of the committee studying transportation options for students with temporary disabilities. She said the committee spoke with Scott Howland, program coordinator of the Office for Students with Disabilities, and that the office would assist temporarily disabled students in renting motorized scooters. She also said the University would reimburse students for the expense of the rentals. The new policy should take effect in the fall semester.