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Baron, Shappell lead fledgling representatives

Maddie Hanna | Thursday, April 7, 2005

Student government veterans took fledgling senators under their wings at Wednesday night’s Senate meeting, introducing them to parliamentary procedure and the various committees.

“The entire meeting was a learning experience for them,” student body vice president Lizzi Shappell said.

Student body president Dave Baron agreed, saying the meeting laid the groundwork for the year.

“Things could get going [quicker] this year than last year,” Baron said. Baron noted the new senators’ energetic attitude and willingness to ask questions as reasons why.

Shappell said the meeting served as a “day of introduction,” as old committee chairs described past achievements and new committee chairs proposed future goals, providing information to new senators who then decided what committees they would like to join.

Outgoing senator Vijay Ramanan said the Academic Affairs committee focused on course registration, teacher course evaluations, DARTing and the College Readership Program. Incoming committee chair Chris Harris said while he has 10 to 12 projects in mind, the College Readership Program is the “number one priority.”

Outgoing chair of the Diversity Affairs committee Nick Coleman noted last year’s goal was “to make Notre Dame a more diverse place, not just on paper.” Coleman referenced Diversity Awareness Week, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual (GLBT) Week and the Board of Trustees report focusing on equality as last year’s key committee projects.

New chair Sarah Liu said this year’s committee would be different from last year’s due to the addition of a Minority Affairs committee and mentioned her biggest goal, a diversity retreat to be held next August.

Liu said the retreat would cover race, religion, class and GLBT issues.

Shappell, who previously served as Gender Issues committee chair, discussed last year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week and Eating Disorders Awareness Week and development within the Gender Resource Center.

Incoming chair Ali Wishon said the committee would focus on awareness weeks as well as peer intervention groups, updated health and counseling center websites, resident assistant and rector training and increased male involvement.

Residence Life committee chair Sarah Bates cited the projects involving a 24-hour copy machine in the LaFortune cluster, a “Flex 10” meal proposal and a student discount at the Bookstore as key to last year’s committee.

Student body president Dave Baron stood in for new ResLife chair Mark Seiler and said this year would build off of past projects as well as work to get to-go cups in the dining hall, printers in every dorm, 24-hour spaces with wireless Internet access and a comprehensive report about a new student center.

“We want to be proactive about what we want,” Baron said.

Former University Affairs committee chair Katie Boyle said last year’s group worked on issues that affect students’ everyday lives, such as Fair Trade coffee in the dining halls and LaFortune as well as basketball tickets, among other projects.

Incoming chair Matt Walsh discussed his overall view of the committee, defining its area of concern as University policy that affects students and their lives and saying it would potentially target issues such as the dome scaffolding controversy, AllianceND recognition and the programming endowment.

Liz Kozlow, chief executive assistant and last year’s Oversight committee chair, said last year’s group examined the student government constitution for inconsistencies and tried to change the transition date, among other projects.

Returning senator and new committee chair Sujal Pandya said this year’s Oversight committee would continue last year’s work, making minor changes in the constitution to increase efficiency and setting up a master calendar.

Minority Affairs, chaired by Rhea Boyd, and Community Relations, chaired by Nick Guzman, will be ad hoc committees that will be soon be explained in further detail, Shappell said.

Shappell noted committees will be composed of both senators and non-Senate members, since anyone can apply to join. Some committees have up to 15 to 20 members, Shappell said.

Besides the committee introductions, liaison positions were also introduced. Senators can apply for seats on Judicial Council, Council of Representatives, Financial Management Board and Campus Life Council.

Senators will be assigned to committees and liaison positions by next meeting, Shappell said.

In addition, senators passed three resolutions granting emeritus status to outgoing president Adam Istvan, outgoing vice president Karla Bell and outgoing chief executive assistant Baron.