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Group creates task force to examine hall taxes

Mary Kate Malone | Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Frustration with the use of dorm funds for charity purposes spurred intense debate at the Campus Life Council (CLC) meeting Monday, resulting in the creation of a new task force charged with investigating the issue.

Knott Hall rector Brother Jerome Meyer said he was tired of being asked to donate money from hall taxes to causes that were not directly affiliated with the dorm.

“If someone is going to have an activity, they should get money from the University in some other way instead of using hall taxes,” Meyer said. “We have hall presidents who say they need 80 bucks, then they need 90 bucks, and pretty soon our hall tax is gone and we can’t provide for our students.”

Some members suggested creating a rule requiring that students ask for charity money through Hall Presidents Council instead of going dorm-to-dorm looking for funds.

“But [Hall Presidents Council] doesn’t have all the funds in the world either,” Hall Presidents Council co-chair Dan Zenker said. “We need to try to make sure that it is known that donating money is not mandatory. It’s up to each specific dorm. They have the right to know because it looks good for the hall to get involved as much as they can.”

Meyer did not agree.

“For me, it brings up a moral issue,” Meyer said.

He said when students pay their hall tax, they are not told their payments might be supporting University-wide issues – such as charity events – and this is not morally fair.

Discussion about funding brought to light the yearly process of allocating funds.

“Being on the Financial Management Board last year, I see how unfairly funds are distributed,” Lewis Hall senator Katie McHugh said. “Clubs know they have to request $10,000 even if they only need $2,000. They have to over-budget to get money. It’s ridiculous.”

Diversity Council representative Joyce Randall said student organizations should not be getting away with asking for more money than their budgets demand.

“If that’s happening, where budgets are padded too well, there’s a problem with the Club Coordination Council [which distributes club funds],” Randall said. “CCC needs to scrutinize budgets more effectively then.”

The council decided a task force was needed to examine the Student Union constitution to see if residence halls have any restrictions on where their hall tax is distributed.

In other CLC news:

u Student body president Dave Baron asked for updates on CLC’s task forces.

Social Concerns Committee chair Jacques Nguyen told members of his task force’s plan to reach out to non-Catholic students at Notre Dame.

“Our task force has discussed changing booklets in chapels and updating the phone directory. Campus Ministry Web site needs to add more links to different religious services in the area.”

Campus Grounds and Structures chair James Leito said his task force has found an ally in a Senate committee also charged with pursuing campus beautification and vandalism.

“I’m meeting with the person spearheading the committee to see if she wants her group to meet with ours,” Leito said.

Leito sent a survey to rectors to gather feedback about campus grounds.

“The rectors’ areas of concern seemed to be lawn mowing before 9 a.m. around residence halls,” Leito said.

He said the rectors also wanted to develop a procedure for mail workers delivering packages so they can get in and out of residence halls with less difficulty.

u Baron also said he investigated the status of a resolution created last spring that called for an off-campus crime newsletter to be distributed to students.

Though Baron expressed concern that the newsletter could further detach Notre Dame students from the South Bend community, he promised members he would schedule a meeting with Phil Johnson, Assistant Director of Notre Dame Security/Police, to determine how the newsletter might be implemented.

u Zenker updated members on student attendance at football pep rallies. He said he will be meeting with Joyce Center officials later this week to discuss the issue. At the last CLC meeting, several members expressed dissatisfaction with the procedure for letting students into pep rallies.

Meyer said he does not think the issue was only due to poor communication between pep rally organizers and dorm presidents.

“To get 3,000 students through two doors in 15 minutes is an impossibility,” Meyer said. “The University can figure out that you can open more doors. It doesn’t take much to do it.”