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Dear Notre Dame student body

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hello. My name is Jason F.C. Laws and I am not a current member of MAC. I write to you as a minority Notre Dame student leader and in response to past articles about MAC (Minority Affairs Committee) and the Rob Lindley, Jr. article written last Friday, April 10.

I want to clarify my stance regarding the MAC amendment Senate meeting, at which I was in attendance. My disgust remains with the insensitivity expressed by Senate members during the discussion of the amendment to make MAC permanent. Thankfully, concrete examples of slipshod phrases such as “shut it down” or “it can wait” have been appropriately addressed already. Furthermore, Rhea Boyd’s opening statement about the imperative nature of making MAC permanent, somehow and arbitrarily offended former offended members of Student Senate. At that point, I was perplexed and in complete disarray. Strangely, the significance of making MAC permanent was flooded out by political logistics, concerns for further amending the Constitution, unnecessary vouches for individuals’ character and integrity, Lindley’s playful and clever reference to the Constitution as a “punching bag” and a desire to leave the meeting at a considerate time.

My challenge for those former Senators, our new Senators and all who read this article is that you begin to view MAC and the amendment to make the committee permanent as more than a simple document to be proposed, voted on and passed. See the faces of your fellow Domers, who are consistently underrepresented in our student body’s voice. MAC members worked tirelessly this year to give a voice in Student Government to minority Notre Dame students. As Boyd stated at the Senate meeting, “this is the first year minority members of the student body have had an undiluted and uncompromised voice in Student Senate.” Policy implementation such as the Cultural Competency Resolution and a talk by famed rapper Chuck D gave a first real glimpse of hope to minority Domers. We began to feel that Student Government desired to include the interests or affairs of minorities in the Notre Dame Student Government mainstream agenda. However, much of that hope and trust in our student government was shattered as the MAC amendment was objectified and the minority members of the Notre Dame community were again marginalized.

Passing the amendment to make MAC permanent before the end of the Baron/Shappell administration could have sent a concrete message to all minority students and the student body that Student Government is committed to being accountable for and representing the affairs of all students and ensuring each student’s voice is heard. In Lindley’s testimony to the Viewpoint, he assures that “It may take a week, [or] it may take months,” to address giving MAC permanent status. After three years of Student Government experience, I understand the fears of the former administration to be accountable for such an imperative task or to make more changes to the Constitution. I understand, as a former member of the 2003-2004 COR (Council of Representatives), which revised the Student Body Constitution to its current form, that a single amendment “can” wait. However, speaking as a minority student who faces the issues confronting Notre Dame’s minority students everyday, the crucial changes to improve minorities’ Notre Dame experience can wait no longer.

I trust the leadership that Lizzi Shappell and her new administration brings to office. I simply offer the suggestion of increased sensitivity from leaders around the issue of giving all students a voice on this campus. Realize that a deeper look at MAC and the progress it has made symbolizes the cry from minority Notre Dame students to believe and unite wholly in our famed proclamation that “We are ND!”

Jason LawsjuniorFisher HallApril 10