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CLC reexamines its purpose, duty

Mary Kate Malone | Tuesday, January 31, 2006

With half of the academic year behind them, members of the Campus Life Council (CLC) examined the purpose and scope of their existence at Monday’s meeting – the first since Christmas break.

Following a procedural roadblock on a recent CLC resolution, student body president Dave Baron asked members to discuss “where our initiatives are being directed.”

The resolution that spurred the discussion was one endorsing a Student Senate initiative calling for the creation of a committee that would address diversity in the Notre Dame curricula.

Because the new committee would be under the office of the Provost, the CLC sent their resolution – which endorsed the Senate’s proposal – to both Vice President of Academic Affairs Father Mark Poorman and University Provost Tom Burish. But Poorman wrote back days later saying he was unable to take action, since the resolution went against CLC by-laws.

“I want to remind you that the CLC by-laws state that ‘recommendations shall be made directly to the vice president for student affairs’ … Because of the procedural difficulty, I am unable to take action …” Poorman wrote in a Dec. 9 letter to the Council.

But Baron said he wasn’t worried about the roadblock, since the CLC’s resolution was mainly an endorsement and could be remedied rather easily. Instead, he wanted to use the confusion to discuss CLC’s role in academic affairs.

Carroll Hall rector Father Jim Lewis said the council should not spend too much energy on issues that go beyond the purview of the CLC, like academic affairs.

“This seems to be a concern that comes up every year … I don’t think we need to address every important issue that comes up on campus,” Meyer said. “We would be serving the University better if we focus on student affairs.”

Welsh Family Hall rector Candace Carson encouraged members of the group to act individually about issues they care about that stretch beyond the scope of the CLC.

“Sometimes the weight of an individual is as strong as the weight of the group. As long as it’s the proper venue … we’re all on different things and we can work that way to achieve the ends we want.”

History professor Gail Bederman questioned and then clarified the purpose of the council.

“It’s specifically set up for all these people to talk to Father Poorman, and that’s what we’re here to do – to be the eyes and ears [on campus] and talk to Father Poorman … It’s a unique position.”

She said she could not think of any other student government groups that are so tightly tied with one University official.

That strict union, though, prohibits the Council from speaking directly with any other administration members. Instead, it must ask Poorman to do so on their behalf.

Lewis said it can be frustrating to put energy into a resolution, only to be told that the issue can’t be taken on, but student affairs representative David Moss reminded members that the CLC has the inside-track into academic affairs and that its role is to give Poorman the “pulse of the campus in all areas.”

“So often in institutions you may have an idea you want to turn up the flagpole, and you get no response,” Moss said. “Whereas with this body, at least we know we have the attention of the vice president of student affairs, and he’s ready to respond to us.”

Baron asked the CLC task force on student voice and input to examine what university committees – if any – addresses academic affairs with the voices of both students and faculty.

The task force on social concerns and the task force on campus grounds and structures had no new news to report.