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Campus Life Council: Members aim high, but miss goals

Kaitlynn Riely | Monday, December 11, 2006

The Campus Life Council (CLC) began this year with the creation of four task forces to tackle ambitious goals, but momentum quickly stalled – this year’s group has passed no resolutions, compared to last year’s five.

At the Council’s first meeting, Dillon rector Father Paul Doyle urged the task forces to “capture the energy” palpable at Notre Dame at the beginning of the year with the start of a promising football season and the inspiration of the Global Health Forum.

But while the task forces have discussed important topics in their individual meetings, the results of their work have yet to be seen.

Chief executive assistant Liz Brown heads the Council’s most ambitious task force as chair of Student Voice and Input, a committee led last year by current student body president Lizzi Shappell. Brown has charged her task force with several goals – creating a student-friendly manual about duLac regulations, streamlining the application process for students to sit on University committees and involving students in Notre Dame’s efforts to plan a “college town.”

Brown has been a valuable participant in this year’s Council and her task force’s steady progress should yield tangible results next semester.

Alumni senator Danny Smith leads the Student Concerns task force. Smith and his committee have discussed the wider usability of Domer Dollars and how to make dorm programming an easier process, but like the other task forces, they need to start producing results.

The Conduct Awareness task force seemed to have great potential in the beginning of the year and could expand upon the discussion created by “Loyal Daughters,” but student body vice president Bill Andrichik has narrowed the committee’s focus to dorm “disorientations.” This was appropriate for the beginning of the year, but Freshman Orientation is over. Andrichik and his task force need to widen their focus.

Student government has targeted student safety issues after several off-campus burglaries and assaults were reported earlier this fall. Hall Presidents’ Council co-chair Katie Cordelli, chair of the ad hoc Student Safety task force, has taken her assignment seriously.

Though she struggled at first in deciding how to best pass safety information onto students, Cordelli came up with an effective plan to insert three to five pages of safety information into Contemporary Topics textbooks for freshmen.

Next semester, Cordelli needs to follow through with this plan and push her task force to consider other methods to keep all students – not just incoming freshmen – informed of how to stay safe on and off campus.

The CLC’s unique mix of rectors, administrators, faculty and students strengthens its perspective on student life. Last year, vigorous Council debates on resolutions and issues propelled action. This year, two resolutions – one to point out problems with and recommend improvements to new cable, wireless and cellular technology in residence halls, and another to provide resources to the Native American student population – were torn apart mostly by the non-student members of the committee.

Shappell eventually struck down the technology resolution, and the CLC voted to defer the Native American resolution to a newly created committee for further discussion and tweaking.

This strict scrutiny is important to pass meaningful resolutions, but the members who block their passage need to contribute productively to the Council as well. Shappell should motivate the CLC to use its bi-weekly meetings to achieve concrete goals. Too many meetings have been less than 20 minutes and consist only of task force reports – failing to discuss any new business.

Shappell needs to use the group’s meetings to brainstorm with committee members about what the CLC can accomplish in addition to the objectives the task forces have already outlined.