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Willingham dismissal dominates discussion

Maddie Hanna | Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Backlash from former Irish football coach Tyrone Willingham’s Nov. 30 firing dominated discussion at Monday’s Campus Life Council meeting, which also included reports from three task forces and discussion of the stagnant issue of a cancelled Ethiopia service trip. Debate surrounding the possibility of damaged minority relations at the University as a result of Willingham’s removal arose after student body president Adam Istvan mentioned an upcoming Diversity Awareness Week, tentatively planned for February.David Moss, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and co-chair of the CLC’s social concerns committee, said a group of black students met off campus this weekend to discuss the problems they see at Notre Dame.The fact they felt compelled to meet off campus was significant, Moss said. The meeting demonstrated “the sense that Notre Dame is no longer a comfortable place for them,” he said.Moss also responded to Istvan’s desire to protect “the sense of belonging” for all students at Notre Dame. “For many students, that sense of belonging is in jeopardy now,” Moss said.Moss urged the necessity of the Diversity Awareness week or other similar event to occur as soon as possible.Attempting to find another means of tackling the animosity surrounding Willingham’s termination, Cavanaugh senator Jordan Bongiovanni suggested a more open dialogue between students and administration.”Maybe students would be interested in a fireside chat with Kevin White and whoever else was in charge of the decision,” Bongiovanni said.Joyce Randall, Diversity Council representative, seconded this idea.”Everyone says that this University is colorblind, that race doesn’t matter, so maybe it would help actually telling what happened [to Willingham],” Randall said.However, some members urged caution.”I question putting Kevin [White] on the spot,” said Sister Pat Dearbaugh, rector of Cavanaugh.Chief executive assistant Dave Baron said a fireside chat would be unproductive.”In essence, we really need to unite behind the new coach,” he said.Despite the skeptical comments, Istvan supported the idea of contacting White. “There’s no harm in asking,” Istvan said.The security and vending task forces and the social concerns committee also offered updates at the meeting.O’Neill senator Alex French said the security task force talked to Phil Johnson, assistant director of Notre Dame Security/Police, who recommended the creation of a Listserv with security news. French said Johnson also suggested the Listserv be automatically sent to all students. This way, more students would receive the news than if they had to take the initiative to sign up themselves, and they could choose to take their name off the list at any time.The only issue with the security news, French said, is the off-campus area where Notre Dame students live is fragmented, with one part falling under the jurisdiction of the South Bend Police and the other part under St. Joseph County Police. Jimmy Flaherty, manager of Student Union Board and member of the security task force, said maps were currently being made regarding the lighting issue, another problem the task force has explored.Once the maps are complete, “We will sit, look and try to figure out where we want lights,” Flaherty said.However, Flaherty could not give a sense of the timeframe involved in the process of adding lighting.Siegfried senator James Leito said the vending task force had made progress in obtaining information regarding laundry.”We’ve compiled some data from five or six dorms on how often laundry is used,” Leito said.The next step, Leito said, will be to schedule a meeting with representatives from business operations next semester.Bongiovanni, co-chair of the social concerns committee, said the committee was currently compiling information from different universities on how they handle the issue of diversity.In other CLC news:u Following the task force reports, Istvan announced he had received an e-mail from members of the Student International Business Council with questions regarding last summer’s cancelled service trip to Ethiopia still unanswered by General Counsel.According to Istvan, SIBC’s main concerns are the apparent lack of formalized procedure for canceling trips and the sense of imbalance stemming from the fact their trip was cancelled while others were not.”Now that we have this [e-mail], we’ll take that forward,” Istvan said.Istvan said the CLC would investigate the matter and ask General Counsel to formulate a procedure for canceling trips, if one does not already exist.