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CLC passes resolutions

Katie Kohler | Tuesday, December 6, 2005

The Campus Life Council passed two key resolutions Monday – one targeting non-Catholic student initiatives and the other addressing the role of diversity in Notre Dame’s classrooms.

Chair of the Student Senate minority affairs committee Rhea Boyd presented a resolution calling for the creation of a committee under the Office of the Provost that would investigate how best to incorporate “cultural competencies” into the Notre Dame curricula. She clarified the scope and purpose of the resolution before members weighed in on its importance.

The committee’s members will be drawn from various groups on campus and will include students, faculty and administrative representatives.

“We want to form a committee to investigate how to [incorporate cultural competencies into the classroom],” Boyd said. “One issue that has come up is the need for a diversity requirement, but this does not suggest a diversity requirement as the best way to do this, it just asks, what is best way to incorporate [diversity]? It could take a number of different forms.”

The same resolution passed in the Student Senate Wednesday, Nov. 30. Senate members had asked for clarification on the meaning of “cultural competencies,” and CLC members expressed the same concerns – knowing that if the resolution passed, it would be sent to the Faculty Senate. Dillon Hall rector Father Paul Doyle predicted those faculty members would probably not be satisfied with such a vague term.

“I’m willing to vote for this, but people will want a tighter definition of cultural competencies somewhere along the way,” Doyle said. “Professors want to define your terms, that might slow things down, but the spirit is something we can embrace.”

Boyd clarified the meaning of cultural competencies – calling them “a specific range of skill, knowledge and ability”.

“This was not a random choice of words,” Boyd said. “[The word] ‘cultural’ is meant to be a bit vague. This committee can define cultural – whether it refers to marginalized groups, the arts or [Film, Television and Theater] courses,” Boyd said. “We know it needs to be something that surrounds culture in general.”

Satisfied with Boyd’s answer, the members passed the resolution with one abstention. It will be discussed and voted on in the Faculty Senate tonight.

Members of the social concerns task force still faced criticism when they presented a revised version of a resolution that called for more specific training for hall staff involving non-Catholic ministries.

The resolution stems out of a perceived lack of attention paid to non-Catholic student faith options during this year’s hall staff training. The resolution was met with opposition when it faced the Council on November 21. Welsh Family Hall rector Candace Carson, who is also a campus ministry commissioner, had insisted that the issue was already addressed in a variety of mediums, including pamphlets inside hall chapels. She promised to bring up the resolution at the next campus ministry committee meeting.

“We had a meeting on the Monday Nov. 28 and … the concerns from the Council were presented, and they said that they put the information out through campus ministry e-mail. But each hall responds differently,” Carson said. “It was done as quickly as I could do it. I will continue to work through [campus ministry commissioners]. They are a source on campus that should be used.”

The newly revised resolution asks that Student Affairs and Campus Ministry incorporate a presentation on resources for non-Catholic students during their spring rector gatherings – instead of a separate workshop the original resolution called for. It also called for Campus Ministry to pay greater attention to the issue during its presentation to hall staff in the fall.

The resolution still faced doubt from several members.

“It is seemingly ironic that we’re talking about having entities that have offered information in this regard, like Campus Ministry, and asking them to do more when they seem to be the entities that have done the most,” Carroll Hall rector Father Jim Lewis said. “I don’t see any student initiative in this regard.”

Diversity council representative and social concerns task force member Joyce Randall claimed that Campus Ministry was targeted because “obviously there is a breakdown in getting the information [on non-Catholic initiatives] out there.”

Members also expressed further doubt about word choice and vagueness in the resolution – resulting in a back and forth debate on how best to express its intent and meaning.

Though Badin Hall rector Ann Napoli claimed that the resolution was calling for 15 or 20 minutes to be spent on non-Catholic resources as part of Campus Ministry’s hall staff presentation, some members believed that the wording implied the need for a separate and distinct presentation.

“We do want some intentional ambiguity,” Pasquerilla West Hall Senator Christina Lee said. “We don’t want it to be like ‘do this in this format.’ We want them to figure out what they deem is the best way. It’s more of a suggestion.”

The Council then voted to amend the resolution in order to clarify the type of presentation as one that would be incorporated into the overall campus ministry presentation during hall staff training.

The Council passed the amended resolution with two members opposed.