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BOG, COR build relationships

Katie Kohler and Sonia Rao | Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In a meeting more symbolic than groundbreaking, two prominent student legislative groups – Notre Dame’s Council of Representatives (COR) and Saint Mary’s Board of Governance (BOG) – met Tuesday at Saint Mary’s in a meeting scheduled by student body presidents Lizzi Shappell and Susan McIlduff a few months ago. Leaders from both schools brought up the Feb. 13 Viewpoint column by Jonathan Klingler that criticized the relationship between Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame but quickly ended the discussion of the topic. Shappell said the Student Senate University Relations committee at Notre Dame is now addressing the issue. Notre Dame senior Aly Baumgartner, the committee’s chair, did not speak on the topic Tuesday.Instead, the groups focused on describing the place of each group on its respective campus and in the larger picture of student government.”COR is a microcosm of the larger Student Union consisting of presidents from all student organizations,” Shappell said.The meeting was informal and was used as a “meet and greet” to get to know how each other’s systems work, McIlduff said.”We are the main policy-making board on campus representing every major area of campus and campus groups,” she said.Saint Mary’s student Alanna Cheifari, the tri-campus commissioner who sits on both COR and BOG on a weekly basis, directed the informal discussion and encouraged attendees to use one another as a resource.”We hope we can bounce ideas off each other about student government and learn from one other,” she said.The meeting was mandatory for BOG members, who had a strong showing with nearly all members present. Due to scheduling conflicts and other commitments, only eight representatives from COR attended the meeting.Holy Cross student Deirdre O’Toole represented the third branch of the tri-campus relationship. She was the only Holy Cross representative present.Saint Mary’s junior Amy Dardinger, Residence Hall Association president, led an icebreaker activity to introduce members from each school. Members from COR and BOG then paired with a counterpart from the other school. They were given the chance to discuss their positions at their school and compare their roles.There were no serious implications of the meeting, but each student body president hopes to continue the tradition in the future.Prior to the joint meeting, BOG met at 5:30 p.m. as part of its weekly schedule. The group discussed the recent approval of the six-semester residency program. The program will begin with the freshman class of 2011 and requires them to live on campus through their junior year.”We market ourselves as a residential college,” Vice President of Student Affairs Karen Johnson said. “Most of our peer schools require eight semesters; we decided to only require six,” There will be certain exceptions for local residents, transfers and abroad students which have not yet been finalized. BOG also invited Laurie Stickelmaier, the College’s vice president of finance and administration, to discuss workers at Saint Mary’s and the living wage – an issue discussed at last week’s meeting.Stickelmaier said Saint Mary’s is working to improve wages for its workers, but it is an ongoing process.”We are paying our workers as much as we can right now as an institution,” she said.Stickelmaier said the College has a three-year plan for college employees, which was already brought before the Board of Trustees and will “hopefully” appear on the budget in April.”We are set to address the shortfall of wages at this time,” she said. “It will take us three years, but to get our workers within … 10 percent [of] median market wages in St. Joseph County, it will take us $1 million.”Stickelmaier is confident that the Trustees will eventually approve this pending issue.”The Board recognizes that this is an important issue and I feel strongly that the Board will approve this first phase of the three-year program.”Saint Mary’s inability to pay its workers the median market wages stems from Notre Dame, Stickelmaier said.”Notre Dame drives the market,” she said. “They have a much larger endowment than we do, so instead of focusing on getting our workers in the 50th percentile of wages, we have to focus on trying to get them in the 40th right now.”

In other BOG news:u Little Sibs Weekend will take place this weekend. Registration will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 Friday in the Student Center.u The Diverse Students Leadership Conference will be held from March 1 to 3. All are welcome to attend. Students can register in the atrium of the Student Center during dinner.u On Mar. 24, the whole-school dance will be held from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. All proceeds will go to Riley Children’s Hospital.u Dance Marathon registration packets are now available in residence halls. The cost is $12 and includes a T-shirt, three meals, snacks and a small donation to Riley Hospital. The marathon will take place on Apr. 20.