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CAMPUS LIFE COUNCIL: Members prove more active, prolific than in past years

Mary Kate Malone | Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Campus Life Council has passed five resolutions during the fall semester – a significant improvement from the zero passed under last year’s Council.

Though division among members has not disappeared, student body president Dave Baron has breathed new life into a body that is student government’s best attempt at merging the voices of faculty, rectors and students.

At the start of the semester Baron said he would not tolerate division among Council members. Historically, rectors and faculty have gathered on one side of the discussion table and students on the other, but Baron encouraged members to disperse themselves evenly.

However, halfway into the school year, there continues to be a stubborn rift – not only physically, but ideologically – at times affecting the quality and effectiveness of its discussions.

“We each represent different constituencies,” Baron said. “It’s a curse and a benefit. This is a great benefit, but it can also hurt discussion when participants are only thinking about their own constituents.”

Most recently, a religious faith resolution was stalled in the Council after rectors and students failed to agree on the best way to provide faith information to non-Catholic students.

The Council has managed to unite on some issues. Members provided solid feedback for Hall Presidents Council co-chair Dan Zenker as he worked to address football pep rally admittance procedures with Joyce Center officials. The Council also smoothly passed the student activities fee increase resolution with a vote of 12-1.

The Council’s greatest strength is in its three task forces, which Baron created at the start of the semester. Each with a clearly defined purpose, the task forces are the fuel of the CLC. Without their initiatives, the Council would lack direction.

The social concerns task force has topped the other three task forces and positioned itself as the backbone of the Council. It has delivered two resolutions to the CLC and consistently demonstrated progress from meeting to meeting.

Chaired by Jacques Nguyen, the task force has focused on its chief goals to address dorm dance themes and improve opportunities for non-Catholic students. It crafted and presented a resolution on Nov. 7 to amend the Dorm Dance Manual to include regulations for appropriate themes and advertising for dances. It passed unanimously and received high praise from Vice President of Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman.

The task force’s second resolution – calling for workshops to help hall staff address non-Catholic student needs – failed to pass in the Council and was sent back to the task force for further revision. The task force swiftly responded to concerns and revised a resolution that the Council passed two weeks later.

The campus grounds and structures task force has shown scant visible progress. Though Baron hails this task force as a testament to the CLC’s ability to unite with different campus organizations, its purpose and progress have been foggy throughout the semester. Still, the task force has been doing much of its work behind the scenes, and if it manages to follow through on its initiatives soon, its work has the potential to fulfill a significant void on campus.

Campus ground and structures has been pursuing three main initiatives: improving outdoor recreational facilities in conjunction with Student Senate, beautifying grounds around dorms and other campus buildings in conjunction with the Rectors and addressing water drainage in the D6 parking lot.

Task force chair James Leito frequently reports to the Council about meetings with campus groups. But 16 weeks into the school year, Leito’s task force needs to start stop discussing and start delivering.

The student voice and input task force has not delivered a resolution but its goal is too long-term to warrant such a measure. The force spent the majority of the semester conducting extensive research on University groups and committees. It has now narrowed that list to a few key committees that are lacking student input. If it manages to create student seats on these committees in the coming months, CLC’s visibility will grow among students – who are vastly unaware of its existence.

The Campus Life Council has benefited greatly from goal-oriented task forces, but Baron must continue to unite the highly varied interests of the CLC’s members in order to facilitate more progressive discussion. The Council has the potential for a productive spring if task forces like Leito’s campus grounds and structures can start to provide visible results for Council members and students alike.